NBL committed to saving 'insolvent' Illawarra Hawks

Hawks players look on during the national anthem prior to the Round 19 NBL match between Melbourne United and the Illawarra Hawks. Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

The NBL has once again reiterated its desire to save the insolvent Illawarra Hawks franchise, as speculation about the team's future grows.

"The NBL is committed to the Hawks remaining in the league," the NBL told ESPN on Monday. "We are continuing talk to a number of interested parties to find the next owners of the club."

Earlier this week, creditors of the Hawks voted to liquidate the team's remaining assets, after it was placed into administration. However, the NBL confirmed the decision will not influence whether or not the Hawks continue in the league.

"The administrator's decision to liquidate the company that previously held the licence to operate the Illawarra Hawks does not affect the future of the Illawarra Hawks' participation in the NBL," NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said. "Nor does it affect the current process being conducted by the NBL to grant the licence to operate the club to new owners."

In April, Illawarra Hawks Proprietary Limited was placed into administration following several years of underwhelming revenue and compounding losses. The club has outstanding debts to players and staff totaling AU$770,000.

"The Hungry Jack's NBL is committed to meeting the outstanding player payments at the Illawarra Hawks after the club was placed in voluntary administration," a statement from the NBL read. "A total of eight players started receiving the first instalments of their remaining salary and superannuation entitlements last month and all payments will be met in full.

"Three players who had contracts with the Hawks for next season -- Sunday Dech, Sam Froling and Angus Glover -- have been offered the opportunity to fulfill these contracts with the club and discussions with them are ongoing.

"The NBL is continuing discussions with a number of interested parties as it looks to finalise the new ownership structure of the Hawks."

An administrator had been appointed to manage the finances of the struggling NBL franchise and preliminary findings have deemed the club insolvent and a recommendation to cease operations appears imminent following the accumulation of debt.

"The company has a shortfall of assets over liabilities and therefore cannot meet its obligations to creditors," said the report, obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation [ABC]. "The company is therefore insolvent and requires a formal insolvency appointment to deal with their financial position."

The Hawks had predicted a dramatic rise in revenue and profit for the 2019/20 season, following the arrival of American star LaMelo Ball. However, the club still lost in the region of AU$100,000.

Former owner of the Hawks, Simon Stratford, identified the increase in staff salaries and COVID-19 as key factors in the debts accumulated by the club. Poor gate takings and a lack of recent success is also believed to have played a role in the team's inability to turn a profit.

Ball announced his intention to buy the Hawks in early April, but the NBL last week told ESPN the sale process was still unfolding.