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Nov 2, 2009

A-League warned to avoid NBL's pitfalls

Basketball great Andrew Gaze has urged A-League clubs to take heed of the tough lessons learned by the NBL to ensure the football competition's survival.

The NBL's seven-time MVP and all-time record points scorer, Gaze sees many similarities between the two competitions, which both enjoyed a surge in popularity before being beset by financial difficulties and dwindling attendances for some clubs.

And although none of the A-League's clubs have yet gone out of business, Gaze said the demise of NBL outfits such as the Sydney Kings, Brisbane Bullets and Canberra Cannons should serve as a warning.

"What is happening to the A-League is almost like a replica of what basketball went through after our halcyon days in the 1990s and I don't think it is unfair to say there is not too much difference between the two," Gaze told AAP.

"I just hope soccer can look at some of the issues that basketball had to address and try and avoid some of the problems that we faced.

"We have seen what is happening in Adelaide and many of the other A-League clubs where they are facing some significant financial difficulties.

"The basketball experience has shown just because you have some very significant and influential and wealthy people involved doesn't mean you can rely on their benevolence for the survival of the clubs."

On Monday, Gold Coast United became the latest club to require assistance from Football Federation Australia after owner Clive Palmer backtracked on his decision to cap the club's crowd at 5,000 to save on hiring fees for Skilled Park.

Despite the club not being helped financially by the FFA, the sport's governing body is providing developmental support and taking over United's matchday operations in a bid to assist their growth.

This move followed the decision to step in and financially prop up Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United earlier this year.

And although Palmer, Queensland's richest man, is unlikely to suffer the financial woes that beset former Kings owner Tim Johnston and Bullets benefactor Eddy Groves, Gaze said the A-League cannot rely on the likes of Palmer and FFA handouts to keep clubs afloat.

"With the loss of the Brisbane Bullets and Sydney Kings, basketball has taken the hit and there is a perception that basketball is the cause of that," he said.

"But the Bullets' demise was more to do with Eddy's personal circumstances and not a flaw with the team.

"A lot of the time when you are dealing with the entrepreneurial types it may not be a product of the club, (it's) more the individuals.

"My view of it is that teams cannot live beyond their means no matter how wealthy an individual is.

"They haven't got to where they are by being benevolent.

"But the NBL is slowly getting its house back in order and we are making good progress. Soccer will probably have to experience peaks and valleys like basketball did, but I think it will work itself out."

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