THE future of the Griffith Demons is balanced on a knife’s edge, with a decision to be made by the end of the month on whether the franchise will return to the State League in 2014.
Officially “on hiatus” for this year, the Demons were expected to build towards a comeback next season but State League director Rocco Rombola has conceded it could still be a little while away.
“All I can say at the moment is we haven’t had a great deal of time to devote to it,” he said.
“The intention was to always look to next year and now that the new (local) competition is underway, we’ll look to get together and see what we can do.
“But nothing is set in concrete.”
Griffith made the decision to step back from the State League in 2013 to allow a full 12 months to rebuild from the controversy surrounding former captain-coach Andrew Cullen’s six-month suspension for an on-court fight.
Cullen led a mass mid-season walkout of players and staff in protest of the unprecedented ban, citing a lack of communication from the state governing body, Basketball NSW.
A young and inexperienced side was cobbled together to complete the final weeks of the season in their absence.
Prior to the incident, the Demons were one of the most loved sporting teams in Griffith and captured the imagination of the city like no other.
Rombola said there are still three key issues that must be resolved before the Demons could commit to returning next year.
“It’s dependent on the three big things – player availability, committee availability and money,” he said.
“They’ve always been the main issues.
“2014 is the aim but given those three issues, we will probably look to made a decision one way or another by the end of this month.
“What we do have is a very good junior base, so if we can find the right people to fit around them for next season, it’s a possibility.”
Cullen said the organisers faced a major challenge if they intended to get everything up and running in time for 2014.
“Cost is the big thing,” he said.
“You pay $3500 to Basketball NSW before you start, plus registrations, uniforms, and stadium hire ... and we were working off a budget off $1000 per road trip, at a minimum.
“I can’t speak for any of the other players but I doubt they would be involved.
“All the best to them. If there’s new guys around, maybe (they could do it). But they’d need a Yank.”
Rombola said if the Demons commit to next season, the MIA League – which runs across the final months of the year – would be a perfect lead-in competition for the State League.
“It would be a very good breeding ground for us,” he said.
“It’s not State League level but it’s open to potential State League players.”