Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Doubt over the validity of Magic's title

Waikato-Bay of Plenty franchise owes league fees but is endeavouring to pay old debt off, says its CEO

Magic CEO Tim Hamilton. Photo / Peter White
Magic CEO Tim Hamilton. Photo / Peter White

Doubt has been cast over the validity of the Magic's 2012 ANZ Championship title.

The Weekend Herald can reveal the Waikato-Bay of Plenty franchise failed to pay participation fees in 2011 and 2012 - the year they broke their transtasman netball league duck.

Every franchise is required to pay Transtasman Netball Ltd - the organisation which administers the league - an annual fee of around $90,000 as a condition of entry into the competition.

The Melbourne Vixens, who lost the grand final to the Magic that year, were aware of their non-compliance, but were unwilling to comment on whether they thought their opponents should be stripped of their title.

"We do not want to delve into that now," a spokesperson said.

Magic chief executive Tim Hamilton, who took over the management of the franchise in late 2012 following an overhaul of the national structure by Netball New Zealand, was asked if the news would sully their win.

"It is a historical matter, I wasn't there back then.

"The reality is they won on the court, the fact they were incurring debt off the court is a matter for the administrators of the time," he said.

Hamilton stressed the Magic had paid their participation fees for 2013 and are working on a payment plan to reconcile their historical debt to TTNL.

But the revelation will go down poorly with other New Zealand franchises who have worked hard to meet their financial obligations while watching the Magic field star-studded line-ups year after year.

Questions have been asked for some time now over the financial management of the Magic, with Netball NZ underwriting a $200,000 loan for the franchise in early years of the competition.

But the true extent of their problems came to light only following the move to a new zone structure, when the national body was forced to write off nearly half a million dollars of debt.

It appears despite the write-off, the new zone management have still been lumped with a significant amount of debt, but Hamilton was unwilling to discuss Netball Waikato-Bay of Plenty's current financial position.

"The new structure has accepted the fact it has debt on its books and we're endeavouring to pay that off as soon as possible," he said.

ANZ Championship general manager Andy Crook said while the league had the ability to impose sanctions if teams do not pay their participation fees, they take the view it is better to support franchises that are experiencing financial hardship.

"Two or three years in [the Magic] asked TTNL if they could delay their payment of their participation fees.

"I think within the context of a brand new sporting league and the financial challenges everyone faces in that scenario, TTNL believed it was the right thing to do for the ANZ Championship," said Crook.

"The reality is we want 10 teams competing in this league.

"There is no point in hammering the teams to the point that they can't compete, and all teams are in agreement that that should be the case."

Crook said the fact they worked through a resolution with the Magic should satisfy the nine other franchises that the 2012 title is valid.

- NZ Herald

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