Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan defended the organization’s plan to sell the rights to hosting the grand final of Super Netball to the highest bidder.
However, Super Netball players called on the organization to “change the culture” and said the decision to move the game so late in the season was “worrying” and “appalling”.
The controversial deal, first announced yesterday, will host this year’s grand final in Perth – regardless of the results – after Western Australia allegedly beat competing bids from two other states.
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The decision will allow for cash prizes – $ 100,000 for the winner and $ 25,000 for the winner of the second place – and the game will be moved to Sunday, July 3 at 19:00 AEST (17:00 local time).
The winner of the main semifinals between the teams in first and second place after the basic part has almost always been granted hosting rights since the competition was established in 1997. The only exceptions were during the pandemic.
In the main semifinal, it is almost certain that the Melbourne Vixens will host the West Coast Fever, given that the Vixens have two games clearly on top, there are two rounds left, with the Fever having two games ahead of the third.
But now the leaders could beat Fever for the third time this season after two base wins and still have to play them in front of their home fans in the Grand Final.
Alternatively, Fever, who have lost two of their last three matches, could miss the Grand Final altogether, which would mean that two teams outside of WA would have to play there, raising questions about how many fans would participate.
Over the last two seasons, Covid-19 has forced the Referees to play at a biologically secure center in Queensland – and the impact of the pandemic on Australia’s final Netball result has led them to stand up for the competition.
“The fact is that Netball Australia is in a really difficult financial situation,” Ryan explained at Fox Sports Center Circle.
“Netball Australia had a loss of about $ 4.4 million in the 2021 season and now unfortunately has bank loans of just under $ 4 million.”
She added: “We are making this decision in the best interests of the sport.”
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Fans erupted in fury over the deal, while players and coaches were informed of the decision only this week – 12 weeks in the 14-lap basic section.
Jo Weston, president of the Australian Football Association, issued a statement on Thursday night.
“Professional Netball players at Suncorp Super Netball have called for a change in Netball Australia’s culture as a result of a one-sided, hurried, late seasonal and fundamental change in competition and the way players are. treated before and after the decision, “it said.
“Players are devastated – both by the decision and by the way it was handled. It was extremely disappointing to find out about such a serious decision after that, and yet I was not consulted during the process. But it was even more worrying to be deliberately stated. a mistake from Netball Australia regarding the status of decisions and the nature of their engagement with us.
“Moving the goals after the 12th round, when each team ‘recharged’, to be able to hold the Grand Finals in front of family, friends, members and fans after two years of compromise Covid, without even one asking what they thought, is appalling . It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why we are playing and what we have sacrificed.
“Players with heart and soul are committed to our sport and its promotion and development – commercial and community. Netball Australia tells us that we are “the most important asset of the game” and a priority “partner”. And yet they take us as the lowest priority.
“Either behavior has to change or people have to change. We want to work with Australian Netball, who understands that if they want to develop the game and want players to become valuable partners in this business, they must change the way they work with us.
“What Netball Australia doesn’t seem to understand is that one of the best things about playing football is that the sport attracts and develops strong, smart and independent-minded women. We want Netball Australia to recognize the great talent – on and off the field – that we have in our gaming group and to treat it with respect and confidence. “
Former Diamonds star and Fox Netball commentator Nat Medhurst told Fox Sports News on Wednesday that the leak was a complete surprise: “It’s a shock that it was announced today.”
“It was a lot of information, a big shock. We are only two weeks away from the finals and its timing is a bit disturbing… The mind shakes. ”
Medhurst compared the decision to the most controversial Super Netball challenge – the introduction of Super Shot with a small contribution from a player, fan or club – adding: “Not taking this decision before the start of the season simply means nothing. meaning and obviously caused a huge amount of resistance, “she added.
In a statement to the league, Ryan said: “Western Australia has a fantastic history of major sporting events and we are delighted to be able to bring the Grand Final 2022 to Perth.
“Having a fixed venue each year will bring a better overall event experience by maximizing grandstand attendance at the Grand Final and increasing match ratings through Foxtel and Kayo Freebies for fans across the country.
“For the first time in the history of the Suncorp Super Netball League, prize money will provide significant financial support to both Grand Final teams. This will allow teams to invest in growth and involvement activities across the wider community.
“Netball Australia would like to thank the WA government for supporting the Grand Final in 2022 and for their commitment to developing the sport in their country.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that our sport remains strong for every level of the community throughout the country.
“We understand that the football community is disappointed with the timing of this announcement. We had to act quickly to secure this financial investment for our sport. “
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