Since we started this website, it has always been our aim to keep our content 100% positive. However, when people that we consider friends are done wrong, we feel their side of the story needs to be heard. Plenty of “spin” has been put on the Gold Coast Blaze situation, including articles that we have published based on information from sources we thought to be trust worthy and interviews we have done. I spoke to a former Blaze employee Thursday night who decided it was time for things to be heard. For obvious reasons, the employee requested they remain unnamed.
We’ve all heard every angle of what has been happening with the Gold Coast Blaze.
Rumours have run rife that the Blaze entered into voluntary because they didn’t want to pay former coach Brendan Joyce.
We’ve heard the stories about the potential investors that are just about over the line but we’ve only heard that one angle.
However, one former Blaze employee has had enough and wanted their story heard.
“We can only put a smiling face on for so long.”
“I’m out $10,000.”
“I busted my arse for (years). We didn’t take leave. We couldn’t take leave, and for us to have lost money out of that is just beyond me.”
There has been all sorts of questions arise from the mess that has evolved on the Gold Coast the past, however what hasn’t been spoken about before is how things have played out behind the scenes. The employee said that employees have been going extended periods without pay and essentially that affected the teams performance last season,
“Some players were dragged onto the court in certain games.”
“If you go back and look at the tape, in the first half certain players that didn’t want to be there because we hadn’t been paid.”
By the time that former coach Brendan Joyce won his case against the Blaze for wrongful dismissal, the Blaze employees hadn’t been paid for four weeks.
“There would be whispers out of our accounts department that we’re not going to get paid.”
But while the former employee does point the blame in one direction, it certainly isn’t at the clubs owners, the Tomlinson family, nor was the voluntary administration a mere ploy to avoid paying Joyce rather the club simply did not have the funds available.
“It wasn’t to flee debt, it wasn’t to avoid paying (Joyce). It was genuinely that the $500,000 pushed it out of reach and knowing that as of the next morning Joyce had the right to liquidate the company (they had to enter voluntary administration). I believe they could have come up with the money from within the family, but with the liquidation hanging over their head they had to take the action they did.”
“They tried to appeal the process. They needed $85,000 to appeal but they didn’t have that handy so they had to cop it on the chin. Joyce gave an extension at 4:55pm on May 9, the day before we were let go but that didn’t get to us in time.”
“As nice as they are, they’re not business people, they’ve just got the money. They’ve been walked over.”
The employee said communication was always an issue, however staff knew that the team had long been searching for an investor and had been told at one point that a deal had been done. So when they were called into a meeting with a “guy in a suit” one day they assumed it was the new investor,
“We were brought into the office with this guy who we thought was an investor. He sat down and said “we’ve been appointed the administrators, we don’t have the money to keep you guys on, we’re going to terminate you effective 5pm the day before.”
As the most drama has played out since the club announced it had entered voluntary administration, plenty of people have speculated that the suggestion that a deal is imminent is false. However, the former employee said there is in fact two investors that have been involved in negotiations but doesn’t hold much hope for a positive outcome.
“One has already said he’s going to run for the hills if the administrator closes the doors, and so that’s done. They’re not even going back to talk to him because they can’t. The other one, they don’t know how that’s going to effect him but effectively, if they can’t get pen to paper at that meeting then we’re done.”
However at the end of the day, the Blaze shut up shop today. No employees remain at the club and the Tomlinson’s have handed in their keys to the team’s office in Broadbeach. The four players that were contracted to the club for next season have had their contracts terminated. They, along with coach Joey Wright are now free agents as at 4:00pm today.
The former employee hinted that the players have been prepared for this day even to the point that they may have quietly been looking elsewhere for work should the situation not improve.
But with D-Day for the club effectively coming this Monday, the employee wouldn’t be surprised if at least one player found a new home quickly.
“I believe Wortho will be gone. He tried to get out of his contract last year. But I think Bubbles (Chris Goulding) and Peach (Anthony Petrie) will wait it out. I don’t think anything will happen over the weekend, but Wortho wouldn’t surprise me.”
The NBL community has had it’s own issue with what has happened with the club, especially with the revelation that the club did not pay the $1 million surety required by the NBL before joining the competition. However, the employee said that money was available,
“I can safely say that there was $1 million in our bank account and the next day it was back where it needed to be. There is nothing being held for that.”
At the end of the day, the former employees greatest frustration is the effect that all of this has had on the greater communities perception of the club. When asked what would happen if Monday’s meeting ended positively and staff we offered their positions back, the employee was cautious.
“They’ve always said that we’re a part of their plans, each one of us. There’s only one staff member who has already said he’s not coming back regardless of the situation.”
“Everyday that goes past it’s more and more impossible to get this show on the road, pre season starts in 4 weeks. Whether that’s actually possible (if) we go back to work tomorrow, I don’t know. But that’s their plan.”
“(As far as coming back) I’d have to really evaluate it. I’ve got to take into account how much money (I’ve) actually lost, how much the salary would be in going back. Obviously there would definitely need to be some pay increases.”
“If they said to me tomorrow “do you want to come back for the same pay?”, no.”
“All I cay say is Tom Garlepp, (Jason) Cadee and (James) Harvey…they’re laughing all over the place right now, they’re loving it.”