Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan has quit Mersey Tigers on the eve of the troubled club’s first game of the new domestic campaign.
The London-born forward, who led the Liverpool outfit to the league title in April, claims that he has run out of patience after waiting for several thousand pounds outstanding in salary to be paid by the team’s new owner, Southport-based Steve Brookfield.
It is understood that an arbitration process involving the British Basketball League, which had aimed to resolve the stand-off, remains in progress but that the crippling debts inherited from Mersey’s previous ownership are largely intact.
And Sullivan, who rejected a request to take a pay cut prior to his departure, says he is no longer prepared to bide his time.
“I understand what’s gone on with the team and that they need to cut back on their outgoings,” he declared. “But many things have been handled what I consider less than professionally.
“The owner spoke to me regularly over the summer on a regular basis, bouncing ideas back and forth to help them fix the problems. But all of a sudden, I’ve not heard anything for weeks.”
Mersey, who were forced to cancel their scheduled opening tie last weekend due to “operational issues”, are due to host Sheffield Sharks on Friday evening. But they will be without their most influential figure for this season with 30-year-old Sullivan now expected to attract offers from home and abroad.
“This is not the way I had envisaged the relationship between me and the Tigers coming to an end,” he said. “But that’s the way it is.”
Both the BBL and Mersey Tigers declined a request to comment. However Brookfield – with a personal six-figure debt tied up in the club – will now come under increased pressure from within the league to provide reassurances that there will be no repeat of the off-court distractions which plagued the Tigers last term.
MVP can reveal that a threat of a player strike ahead of a televised game was headed off at the eleventh hour, with Mersey’s personnel opting to carry on in the face of missed wage runs.
And Sullivan believes that loyalty should now be repaid.
“We could have gone ‘screw this’ but we stuck together because we liked being together and that got us through the season,” he stated.
“It seems that the people who are running the club now don’t seem to realise that we were the victims and that we did nothing wrong.”
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