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Larry Kestelman Leaps Into WNBL: Female Athletes ‘Deserve Better’

Female athletes “deserve better,” says Kestelman, “and we believe we can, with time, deliver something to be proud of.”

Larry Kestelman, the businessman who orchestrated the extraordinary revival of the NBL, is setting his sights on the WNBL.

Following weeks of speculation, confirmation today that the Wollemi Capital Group Syndicate (WCGS) and the National Basketball League (NBL) have formed a consortium to acquire a majority interest in the WNBL.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Wollemi Capital, founded by Tesla chair Robyn Denholm, a part-owner of the Sydney Kings and Sydney Flames, will acquire 49 per cent of the WNBL. The NBL will nab a 29 per cent stake.

“Women’s Basketball in Australia has a phenomenal history and an even brighter future; we are excited to be a major part of the syndicate that will guide the future direction as well as provide the right level of support and investment needed in the sport for decades to come,” comments Denholm.

“There is much work to be done to transform the League into a platform that our amazing female players, clubs, fans and all involved richly deserve,” adds Denholm.

The arrangement will take effect following the completion of the 2024/25 season, with Basketball Australia, the current owner, maintaining a minority interest in the competition.

Also, both parties point out that a term sheet has been signed which provides up to 60 days to finalise the proposed transaction and allows any conditions to be met.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

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With Kestelman buying into the women’s professional league, ballers in Australia will feel confident that the game in a safe pair of hands.

Dodo founder Kestelman plugged millions into the NBL in 2015, when the product had lost its shine and star-power, and seemed unable to compete for eyeballs and the attention with the NBA and the myriad codes across Australia.

Today, the NBL is boasting bumper crowds, broadcast TV deals, and is widely regarded as the world’s second-best professional league behind the Association. The league has also emerged as an incubator for future NBA talent, and a suitable homecoming for Australia’s elite U.S.-based talent.

The WNBL is, too, recognised as one of the world’s elite competitions, producing a long line of Opals and WNBA stars.

Larry Kestelman

“We are proud to be part of a group that will now have an opportunity to rethink what the best version of the WNBL can look like, and set the direction for the future as we did for the NBL. We believe this is a truly exciting proposition for us, the players, the fans, and everyone involved,” comments Kestelman.

The joint statement issued Thursday declares an “historic new era” for the league.

“The female athletes in the sport, as well as younger girls aspiring for greatness, deserve better and we believe we can, with time, deliver something to be proud of, but do not underestimate the work and challenges ahead,” adds Kestelman.

Under the new ownership structure, the consortium will take control of the league, with the NBL to operate the WNBL, from April 2, 2025.