Auckland Tuatara facing ABL expulsion

Shayne Hope
·2-min read

Auckland Tuatara could be kicked out of the Australian Baseball League for alleged breaches of their licence agreement after withdrawing from the upcoming 2020-21 season just weeks from its planned start.

The expansion team threw Baseball Australia a major curveball on Thursday, formally pulling out of what would have been its third ABL season.

It leaves the ABL with just six active teams following Geelong-Korea's forced withdrawal this week because of logistical issues surrounding their quarantine requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a strongly-worded statement on Thursday, BA said all eight ABL teams had committed to the 2020-21 season on four separate occasions, including as recently as November 2.

BA chief executive Cam Vale said Auckland's late decision to withdraw was "extremely disappointing".

"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," Vale said.

"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."

Geelong-Korea, who were admitted to the ABL along with Auckland in 2018, remain committed to the league long-term.

That is despite BA making the call to cancel the team's involvement for the 2020-21 season.

"It's an unfortunate outcome but a short-term one only, and Geelong-Korea will be back in the Australian Baseball League next season," Vale said.

"There have been plenty of obstacles ahead of this season but getting 40-plus players and staff from Korea into Australia was always going to be a challenge."

The ABL had contingency plans in place for a seven-team season in case Geelong-Korea were forced to withdraw and now have to re-work the schedule again.

The league plans to release a revised six-team schedule early next week.

It is optimistic about being able to play the season's opening day on December 18 as planned, with interstate border restrictions around Australia easing.