Netball Australia has reportedly make the shock decision to sell the Super Netball Grand Final hosting rights to the highest bidder.
Netball Australia has been slammed by fans after it reportedly made the decision that this season’s Super Netball Grand Final will be hosted by the highest bidder.
CODE Sports reported Western Australia has outbid two rival state governments for this season’s hosting rights, meaning Perth will host the Grand Final regardless of how the finals series pans outs.
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According to CODE, Netball Australia first told players and coaches of the agreement this week, 12 rounds into a 14-round regular season.
Netball Australia’s reported proposal would see Perth’s RAC Arena, the home court of the West Coast Fever, host the sixth Super Netball Grand Final.
CODE reports the move would see Netball Australia pocket $300,000 in cash in a deal valued at an estimated $650,000.
Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan neither confirmed or denied the report on Wednesday.
Netball’s governing body has been under significant financial strain in recent years because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With two rounds to go in the season, the Melbourne Vixens are currently two games clear on top of the ladder, with the West Coast Fever in second place.
The Vixens and the Fever have been the two best teams this season but as it stands, the Fever would get to host the Grand Final despite finishing lower than the Vixens on the ladder. The advantage of winning the minor premiership would go up in smoke.
A worst-case scenario for Netball Australia would be for Fever to miss out on the Grand Final and for two interstate teams to contest the decider in front of a half-empty stadium in Perth.
Such a decision would compromise the integrity of the Super Netball competition and raise eyebrows given the Fever were found to have breached the salary cap last season and were docked competition points.
The two most recent Super Netball winners — Melbourne Vixens in 2020 and NSW Swifts in 2021 — have raised the premiership trophy on neutral territory because Covid forced the Grand Final to be held away from their home court.
The lack of transparency around the Grand Final has angered fans and players, who were similarly frustrated at Netball Australia’s lack of consultation around the introduction of the two-point Super Shot in 2020.
It’s safe to say the news has not gone down well with netball players, fans and pundits.
Melbourne Vixens defender Jo Weston, in her capacity as president of the Australian Netball Players’ Assocation, issued a brief statement on social media on Wednesday.
“ANPA is aware of information circulating about the hosting arrangements for the Grand Final,” she wrote.
“We expect to be in the position to make a full statement shortly.”
Netball journalist Erin Delahunty tweeted: “This appears to be an opaque clustef*** of epic proportions, even by NA’s historically low standards.”