BSL to review Bendigo Spirit operations

Bendigo Spirit coach Simon Pritchard.
Bendigo Spirit coach Simon Pritchard.

The fallout from the Bendigo Spirit’s poor WNBL season has begun.

Bendigo Stadium Limited, which now operates the Spirit, announced on Thursday it had begun a strategic review of all aspects of the club.

The Spirit finished on the bottom of the WNBL ladder this season and the club is battling to stay financially competitive with its rivals.

The basketball department, including coach Simon Pritchard, will be put under the microscope.

“We are going to have a full review with no stone left unturned,” BSL chief executive officer Nathan O’Neill said in a statement.

“After 11 seasons in the WNBL, we have missed the finals on four occasions. Three of those four have been in the past three seasons.

“We want to identify and focus on what is required to return the Spirit to once again being a dominant WNBL club on and off the court.

“We will benchmark ourselves against the leading WNBL clubs, with the aim of rising to their level.

“We need to identify what success means, set a deadline to achieve it, and work out what needs to be done between then and now to make it happen.

“The club’s operations are transitioning to BSL, which provides an opportunity for improved structure and sustainability.”

Pritchard is under contract for one more season, while club MVP Nadeen Payne is the only player contracted for next season.

Star forward Kelsey Griffin continues to recover from season-ending hip surgery, but her future is uncertain because of lucrative contracts she already has and will be offered from overseas clubs and rival WNBL teams.

O’Neill said the Spirit needed increased community support to ensure its long-term viability.

“For the past few years, the club has been treading water financially, dealing with legacy issues that have forced it to do whatever it can to get through season by season,” he said.

“The Spirit is now better positioned to rectify what’s required to be a force once again, and is the city’s only national sporting team, one of only a few in regional Australia.

“The Spirit allows Bendigo to showcase our community commitment to women in sport, and provides our junior athletes the chance to compete at the pinnacle without leaving home.

“It has never been more important for the Bendigo community to show why it loves, and why it needs, the Bendigo Spirit.”

Spirit coach Simon Pritchard was unavailable for comment.