The Wollongong Hawks will fold next month unless they can come up with some new sponsors to keep the cash-strapped NBL club afloat.
The club placed themselves into voluntary administration on Monday after experiencing a tough season on and off the court.
The foundation club collected only their second wooden spoon in their 36-year history this season with a 6-22 win-loss record.
Then they lost major sponsor Wollongong Coal, who have also experienced well-documented financial troubles.
The company withdrew their sponsorship 18 months into a five-year deal, leaving the club facing a $1.8m deficit over the next three years.
Hawks owner James Spenceley remains committed to the club and intends paying all staff, players and coaches during the month-long period of administration out of his own pocket.
Spenceley, who took over as owner last July, said he hoped the shock announcement would prompt local Wollongong businesses to invest in the team.
“We’ve approached every big business that we have a contact for but unfortunately no one has wanted to step up,” Spenceley told AAP.
“There are a lot of businesses that make money in Wollongong but they don’t seem to be keen on supporting the local team.
“We’d like to get a few in to split it.”
The Hawks were almost forced to withdraw from the competition in the middle of the 2007-08 season but a group called the “Friends of the Hawks” helped out.
The following season then Hawks captain Mat Campbell started the “Save the Hawks” campaign which kept the club in the NBL.
Spenceley said he didn’t think it was fair that the fans and community had to keep putting in.
“It really comes down to the businesses that make money, they should be the ones who also put up,” he said.
“It’s really in the hands of the business community in Wollongong now.”
The telecommunications entrepreneur said since he took over, sponsorship dollars dropped because businesses thought they no longer needed to contribute.
He is hopeful of additional investors becoming part-owners as an avenue to raise additional funds.
Spenceley said the lack of a lucrative television deal made it tough for all NBL clubs.
“It’s very difficult to survive as a regional team.
“We really need, like AFL, part of the TV deal and TV money.
“That what keeps sporting clubs alive.”
Hawks players such as captain Oscar Forman as well as coach Gordie McLeod are free to negotiate with other NBL clubs given the uncertainty at the Wollongong club.