Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman embraces AFL interest in NBL franchises


Could we one day see a Melbourne United Navy Blues playing in the NBL?

Could the AFL or NRL one day have teams entered into the NBL?

That union doesn’t seem likely right now but Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman would welcome the AFL or other major Australian clubs entering franchises into the NBL.

NBL boss Larry Kestelman told The West Australian last week there was some AFL interest in possibly entering the NBL and extending their sports businesses into summer.

AFL and NRL clubs are already doing this in Super Netball, sharing the talents of their administrative staff with their netball divisions.

Vickerman was asked about the possibility on Tuesday and he backed the idea, citing his own love of Carlton and his experiences visiting FC Barcelona, which boast not only a world-renowned football team but also a EuroLeague basketball side and handball team.

The Blues have not been connected with any NBL interest although they have expanded their club with an AFLW side.

“I had the opportunity to visit FC Barcelona and I didn’t understand what that meant until you go there and see the basketball team, the football team, the handball team – just the whole group,” Vickerman said.

“AFL leads the world in all those areas and basketball could gain from that.

“I’m a Carlton supporter so to have a club like Carlton have a football team you could support, then in the off-season you go and support the basketball team – I think there could be an amazing opportunity for that.”

Vickerman is confident Melbourne could have a second NBL side, especially if it had AFL backing.

“Our player base here [is strong] and there has always been a great rivalry when there are two teams in Melbourne,” Vickerman said.

“Those games were always unbelievably attended so I think there is.”

While Carlton attempted to become a multi-sport club with their now-defunct Carlton SC entry in the old National Soccer League, Vickerman would love to see his Blues try their hand at basketball.

“It’s my team and if there is going to be an AFL club come in I would love it to be Carlton but any team that got involved would be fantastic for the sport.”

Melbourne United expect to take a full side into their showdown with Perth Wildcats at Hisense Arena on Sunday at 3pm and Vickerman has put the hard word on his side to take on the visitors’ renowned pressure defence.

“They are a physical defensive team,” Vickerman said.

“But if we stay aggressive, stay in attack mode for the majority of the game and not just handle pressure but attack pressure, then we can still play the way we want to play.”

The game is looking likely to be a sellout so the club has encouraged supporters pre-book tickets and avoid disappointment.