Collingwood’s Super Netball players have unleashed an extraordinary spray at Netball Australia, accusing them of “untenable dysfunction and disharmony”.
In a scathing statement in reaction to the Magpies decision to pull the pin on its Super Netball program at the end of the year, the players said while the club had been “transparent with the commercial realities that led to this decision”, apparent inaction from the sport’s governing body left them feeling like “collateral damage in a much larger issue”.
They said the thought of playing the season out knowing they could well be out of a job come the final whistle “seems inconceivable”.
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“There is untenable dysfunction and disharmony between administration and the playing group. There is also no confidence in the strategic direction of Netball Australia,” the statement read.
“As a playing group we care deeply about sport at every level. From grassroots to the elite level, we want to see as many people playing, watching and being connected to netball as possible.
“We want to leave the sport in a better position than we found it. We want the best netball and opportunities within netball for generations to come.
“We call on greater governance, transparency, and leadership from Netball Australia.”
In the same statement, they said Thursday’s announcement had been “overwhelming”.
“The impact on each athlete has been significant and the prospect of playing out the remaining games, right now, seems inconceivable.
“We acknowledge the club has been transparent with the commercial realities that led to this decision. We acknowledge the club has also accepted the program could have been better. We appreciate and respect their candidness.”
Collingwood have endured a largely unsuccessful tenure since entering the competition for the 2017 season. They have made just two finals appearances, and currently languish on the bottom of the Super Netball ladder.
Magpies chief Craig Kelly said on Thursday while the club was “a better place for having had a netball team”, the decision not to renew the contract was “incredibly difficult”.
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He partly attributed the decision to “the challenges Netball Australia has experienced and continues to experience in terms of profitability”, as well as the ongoing discussion about new players and teams’ participation agreements, with the existing agreements expiring at the end of September.
Kelly told The Age that the club conceded it mishandled the netball program, but issues with the governance of the sport were the main motivation for pulling the pin.
“I’m not throwing all the blame at Netball Australia,” he said.
“But we haven’t got clarity on what it looks like long-term, in relation to the financial wellbeing of the code because they are predicting multiple years of losses for the next coming years.
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“The Players’ Association Australia still are nowhere near reaching agreement, and the players want more money, which I understand them wanting more money. The reality is that competition can’t afford it and yet that’s where they’re heading.”
Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan dismissed those suggestions, and said the call was down to the club prioritising footy.
“I don’t really understand when there’s nothing materially changing in either of those agreements, how that changes the direction midway through a cycle,” she said.
“It is clear that they have wanted to prioritise their footballing program, so I’m not sure what other support we could potentially provide at this time.”
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