Netball’s future up in the air

Published: 20 April 2017

Netball Strike

Players’ association threatens strike action ahead of Netball Australia’s AGM

Could Super Netball soon be a thing of the past?

Image © 2017 AAP Image/Paul Miller

The weekend's Super Netball fixtures are under a cloud as players contemplate strike action over a feud with Netball Australia.

The Australian Netball Players' Association has called for experienced administrator Kathryn Harby-Williams' re-election to the governing body's board, with her position to be decided at Friday's annual general meeting.

The association is also threatening to boycott Australian Diamonds matches and form a breakaway domestic competition.

It's reported Harby-Williams' position is under threat as two state associations, Queensland and NSW, seek to oust her to install their own candidates in response to a slipping grasp on power.

It's understood member organisations are reluctant to embrace new Super Netball teams not aligned to state associations, rather football clubs, particularly due to player recruitment issues.

"There just seems to be this real bitterness around the member organisations not having a say on the teams coming into their homeland, now that they have to share sponsorship and they have to fight for members, fight for players," the ANPA's Bianca Chatfield told Fairfax Media.

A letter by the association sent to Netball Australia chair Paolina Hunt, said the non-election of Harby-Williams for "well-meaning individuals who contribute little" would demonstrate a failure to be willing to take the game forward.

"No player will be available to represent the Australian Diamonds for the remainder of the year, until the Australian Sports Commission expresses their confidence and satisfaction that the board is truly independent and capable of acting in the best interests of the sport and not representative groups that have both a real and perceived conflict of interest," the letter, published by Fairfax, reads.

Netball Australia said in a statement the threat of industrial action was "unfortunate".

"The sport is in total agreement around the need to move forward collectively, with a focus on the most critical issues impacting netball, including fully leveraging the recent commercial and broadcast inroads that have been made with the inception of Suncorp Super Netball," the statement said.