The ailing National Basketball League has suffered another major blow with the Gold Coast Blaze entering voluntary administration.
The shock move has the NBL in grave danger of dropping to an eight-team competition in the 2012-13 season and could leave it without a club across the east coast from Townsville to Sydney.
Founded in 2007, the Blaze recently made this season's play-offs under coach Joey Wright but the club's owners, the Tomlinson family, appointed a voluntary administrator on Wednesday to control its affairs.
It comes after the surprise resignation of Basketball Australia (BA) chief executive Larry Sengstock.
Accountancy firm Aggs Robson has been been put in control of the franchise.
The Blaze finished third on the ladder last season but fell in three games in the first round of the play-offs to the Perth Wildcats, who went on to lose to New Zealand in the grand final series.
Retired Canadian businessman Owen Tomlinson and his son had been at the helm since the Blaze's inception in 2007 when the NBL returned to the south-east Queensland tourist strip for the first time since the Gold Coast Rollers folded in 1996.
Tomlinson said in a statement earlier on Thursday that the club has a financial backer lined up to take over but legal hurdles are in the way.
"We are in discussions with an investor who wants to proceed," he said.
"However our former coach, who has obtained a Supreme Court judgment against [the Blaze], had refused to delay enforcement proceedings before the required deadline, to enable us to finalise negotiations with this investor.
"So we have appointed a voluntary administrator to control the affairs of the club pending the completion of these negotiations and thereby secure the long term future of the club."
Basketball Australia interim chief executive Scott Derwin said the sport's governing body supported the way the club has handled the situation, and hoped a solution can be found to keep Gold Coast represented in the NBL.
"The league understands that the Blaze took this difficult decision in order to act in a responsible, legal and ethical manner to try and find an appropriate way past their present financial difficulties," he said in a statement.
"Basketball Australia's priority is to find an appropriate solution quickly to the club's current situation that allows the Blaze to continue to play in the NBL and we will explore all reasonable options in our power to assist them in this process.
"The NBL is now seeking to meet with the Administrator as a matter of urgency in order to gather more information so we can formulate an appropriate position on the matter."
The loss of the Blaze would be a double blow to the sport in south-east Queensland after the failure of secret talks with an unnamed consortium to resurrect foundation club, the Brisbane Bullets, for next season.
ABC/AAPTags: nbl, basketball, sport, broadbeach-4218, qld, australia First posted May 10, 2012 17:07:26