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Former Moncton Motion staff claim players, sponsors weren’t paid

By Tara Clow Jul 5, 2023 | 2:50 PM

A lot of anger and unanswered questions remain after the abrupt end to the season for the Moncton Motion.

The first game of the Eastern Canadian Basketball League (ECBL) was played in April, but the league suddenly wrapped up its season on May 21.

The league announced it was ending the season early in an effort to restructure and come back even stronger in 2024.

This affected seven teams in the league: Moncton Motion, Saint John Union, Summerside Slam, Truro Tide, Bathurst Bears, Valley Vipers and Charlottetown Power.

Dave Tingley, former manager of business operations for the Moncton Motion, says the league needs to own up to exactly why it failed.

“It’s the players that really got victimized here, the sponsors, and the fans. That’s our issue right now. When they ended this, the last four weeks, they showed concern for the league and for themselves, not for the players and the sponsors and the fans,” Tingley said in an interview.

“When they shuttered the league they blamed the lack of fans and lack of support from the sponsors. That is infuriating to us because they had a business model that ensured this would never succeed. It is not the fault of Moncton basketball fans. It is not the fault of the sponsors. It is not the fault of the volunteers that worked hard and lost money on this. Their position was to blame other people.”

Both Tingley and former Moncton Motion head coach Todd McKillop say there were concerns right from the start.

McKillop says for him, it was when none of their players were paid during the first pay period.

“I’ve seen pro leagues where guys don’t get their last pay, but I’ve never seen it where people don’t get their first pay,” says McKillop.

“I started asking about funding because I was led to believe coming into the league that there were plenty of investors, U.S. investors that came along with the owner that would make this work.

Tingley claims he had a conversation with the league owner around the time of the second pay period and was told that his pay would be contingent on ticket and merchandise sales increasing.

“At that point, I really became concerned that this was much worse than we all thought. We immediately started looking deeper into the owner of the management of the league, which we hadn’t really before,” he says.

Tingley adds that he never would have come on board with a business plan that was based on ticket sales and merchandise.

During a news conference in Moncton, when the Motion was first introduced as a team being added to the ECBL, one of the questions raised was why owner Ravi Verma would choose to establish a pro-basketball league in Eastern Canada.

Tingley says that is something they asked themselves in the beginning as well.

“We were told it was always his dream to own a basketball league, that he had connections with people he knew, and he had a connection to some players and some people in the Maritimes. There was an opening here with the departure of the National Basketball League Canada,” he says.

Listen to the full interview with Tingley and McKillop below.

McKillop and Tingley say the players were great during the five-week season and, despite all of the concerns, continued to play because they just wanted to play basketball professionally and they were doing what they loved.

“They were here to play basketball and they were supposed to be paid and they weren’t. But our main goal was to do what was best for the players,” McKillop adds.

Tingley also had concerns over the lack of healthcare programs provided to the American players. He claims when they got injured, it took the league weeks to ensure they got the treatment they needed.

Tingley adds basketball is a growing sport in the City of Moncton and he feels professional basketball can be successful here. He stresses that the community did nothing wrong in this situation.

“We want professional basketball back in Moncton. We’d love to see it. This is a viable area for professional basketball. Basketball is booming here,” he says.

“There are so many young kids playing basketball. There are successful college programs, there are successful high school programs.”

Tingley adds that the Moncton Magic proved it with their success prior to the pandemic.

In a statement to our newsroom, league vice-president Dwayne Tingley says he is taking some time away from the league but expects to have more information next week.

“I will say the league NEVER blamed fans or sponsors. In fact, the league took the blame for underestimating costs and overestimating revenues,” says the vice-president.

“The league has a substantial debt and creditors are being paid — not as quickly as we would like, but debt is coming down.”


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