Auckland has today informed Baseball Australia it is withdrawing from the 2020/21 Australian Baseball League (ABL) season.
The Tuatara formally notified the league of their decision to not take part in the upcoming season at 10:40am AEDT this morning.
Baseball Australia was first told of Auckland’s intention to withdraw on Monday, 9th November.
They were strongly advised to reconsider their position and they have chosen not to reverse this decision.
Auckland agreed to the International Conference model in August, and no significant circumstances have changed to create their withdrawal, if anything there was improvement in their position to play this season with NZ Government support.
Whilst COVID is proving extremely challenging, all ABL teams committed to this season on four separate occasions, as recently as Monday, November 2nd.
Teams have been given multiple opportunities to change their position, of which Auckland haven’t wavered from this model up until this week.
Therefore, issues cited by Auckland such as quarantine and flight costs, whilst challenging, should have been managed and addressed weeks if not months ago.
Alternatives were presented to Auckland to mitigate these costs they chose not to do.
The decision by Auckland is extremely disappointing on a number of other fronts:
- They had no reason to withdraw at this time as the position of their conference was a cost hub reduced ‘hub’ model of which the principles to this model have not change since August 2020.
- They undone an enormous amount of work by the ABL, Brisbane Bandits and Adelaide Giants on a hub model of seven-inning baseball broadcast internationally.
- The decision has cost the International Conference a valuable broadcast partnership with Sky Sports and a key accommodation partner.
- The four teams in the Australian Conference need to make adjustments to accommodate a one conference model.
- Auckland were offered some form of government support.
The reason for this withdraw is best summed up as being due to mismanagement by Auckland.
Whilst the ABL and the other teams see the strategic importance of a New Zealand based team in the league, the ability for Auckland to compete in future seasons is now in serious doubt.
The current ownership is in breach of their ABL licence agreement.
They will be given 28 days to address this.
Decisions on their future involvement will be made by the league and other teams in due course through the Board of Directors of the ABL.
Right now we have a six-team league to finalise so we can move ahead and play ball.
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