Open email from Bob Turner – managing director – Basketball Enterprises Pte Ltd
You might have seen the article in the Straits times on Wednesday. Please find attached a press release we issued yesterday to refute any suggestion we will not be around in years to come. Please feel free to distribute the information to as many as possible. Our Chairman, Tony Fernandes, has also said he will talk to all media this week to set the record straight.
We intend to use this entire off season to build a team and a record following this coming year. Thank you for your support and keep spreading the word.
Slingers in for the long haul, says Chairman Tony Fernandes
Singapore Slingers refute recent report that the franchise is set to be axed in a revamp of the NBL
(March 2008) SINGAPORE – Tony Fernandes, the new chairman of the Singapore Slingers today issued a statement to refute suggestions that the two-year-old franchise is set to become a casualty of a planned revamp of the Australian National Basketball League (NBL).
Contrary to the report in the local newspaper (“Slingers to be axed in revamp?”) on Wednesday, Mar 12, which suggested that NBL chief executive Chuck Harmison had said the Slingers’ place in the 13-team NBL could be in doubt following what was described as two seasons “dogged by poor attendance and financial woes”, the Slingers are in a stronger than ever position according to Mr Fernandes, who is also AirAsia Group’s chief executive officer.
“I became Chairman of the Singapore Slingers because I see the fantastic potential of the franchise,” said Mr Fernandes. “The recent article questioning our position in the NBL competition was completely taken out of context from what I have seen of the speech the CEO of the League delivered at a sports editors conference in Sydney last week.”
Mr Fernandes was referring to Mr Harmison’s dialogue session with some of Australia’s leading sports editors before the first game of the NBL Grand Finals series between the Melbourne Tigers and Sydney Kings, in which he announced plans for a revamp of the 30-year-old NBL.
In his speech, Mr Harmison mentioned that the NBL has commissioned an independent report and is awaiting recommendations about the structure of the league – including the timing of the season, the optimal number of clubs and their geographic locations, and even the name of the competition.
But he also stressed that “there is no expectation that these recommendations will be implemented in time for next season, but more likely they will be put into place for season 2009/10”.
In it, he said that, “whether it continues to include teams in New Zealand and Singapore, and how many of our existing clubs continue as participants, remains to be seen. Ultimately it is fair to expect that there will be at least some casualties amongst our current teams, and that only those that can meet the new higher standards set out in our franchise agreements will make the transition…. Ultimately, it will mean that only the strong will survive, but that’s what is necessary to ensure the long-term welfare of the competition.”
Added Mr Fernandes: “For the Slingers nothing has changed. In fact the future has never been brighter for the organisation, and the recent announcements of the winning Sports Hub bid and the award of the inaugural Youth Olympics to Singapore, coupled with our title sponsor CLSA’s decision to extend their support for the Slingers as our number one sponsor, only add to the excitement we share for sport in Singapore.
“It is full steam ahead for a solid off-season and I can assure you we are all committed to making the Singapore Slingers a success, and one of the best sporting properties for Singapore and the region”.
Mr Harmison backed up Mr Fernandes’ words when he added: “Any sort of media reports that the Singapore Slingers future is in doubt is merely speculation and in no way mirrors the reality of the situation. The Slingers actually made significant in-roads in establishing their brand in the Singapore market place this year, as reflected by the 33% growth they saw in attendance over their inaugural season average. That growth was the largest in the league and reflects well on the Slingers organisation, and those such as Bob Turner who are running the club.
“We are undertaking a major restructuring process at the moment that will impact the HUMMER Championship NBL, but at this stage it is simply impossible to say what sort of effect that will have on individual teams. The Slingers are in exactly the same position as all of our other 12 clubs, but Singapore’s recent growth augurs well for the future of their team.
“Ultimately, if they continue to grow and build on the solid foundations already put in place, then there is no reason to expect that the Slingers won’t continue to be part of the HUMMER Championship in the future.”
Widely regarded as Asian aviation’s poster boy and the man credited with revolutionizing air travel in the region, Mr Fernandes took over the hot seat from former Slingers chairman Mr Wee Siew Kim, who is also the President of the Basketball Association of Singapore (BAS), back in January.
Together with new deputy chairman Chow Yen-Lu and managing director Bob Turner, the new Slingers management are already working on strengthening the roster that had a rather up and down 2007/08 season, in which they failed to replicate the success of their debut season when they made the play-offs, finishing 12th with a 6-24 win-loss record.
But Turner was quick to point out that there were many positives despite the team’s less-than-impressive record on the court, especially the fact that attendance and sponsorship figures were both up over their debut season in 2006-07, with the former by an impressive 40 per cent.
“We have already re-written the Business Plan and Marketing Plan for the coming season,” said Turner. “We have also finalised all the corporate packages now that the schedule of games for the new season has been confirmed. We are also active in the player market and have made offers to some players we believe can help to elevate the Slingers for the coming season.”
– End –
About the Australian National Basketball League (NBL)
The HUMMER NBL Championship was formed in 1979 and is currently entering its 30th season of competition. Although originally just based in Australia, it now includes teams in New Zealand (the New Zealand Breakers) and Asia (the Singapore Slingers). It is recognized worldwide as one of the premier elite men’s professional basketball competitions and has helped Australia’s rise as a global basketball power (currently ranked second overall by FIBA). The NBL has produced such household names as Andrew Gaze, Shane ‘The Hammer’ Heal and ‘Slammin” Sam Mackinnon. The competition features 13 teams, including such iconic Australian sporting brands as the Melbourne Tigers, Sydney Kings, Adelaide 36ers, Perth Wildcats and Brisbane Bullets. Games are shown live each week on Fox Sports in Australia and Maori TV in New Zealand as well as on the Nine Network, WIN TV and Sky Sports.