Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: End of ANZ Championship confirmed, new competition revealed

The ANZ Championship has run its course.

After months of uncertainty, Netball New Zealand and its Australian counterparts today confirmed the transtasman league will be axed at the end of this season, with both countries to move to back to standalone domestic competitions.

The announcement brings to an end a nine-year transtasman partnership.

Netball NZ revealed the new competition will feature six teams, including the five existing franchises and a new start-up club, based in "the greater Auckland area".

In the new triple round format teams will each play 15 round robin games, including Super Sundays featuring all six teams in action at the same venue, before it culminates in a two-game finals series with the top three.

Games will be played on Sunday afternoons at a family-friendly time, which has proved successful in 2016 from an attendance and viewership perspective. Monday night netball will return, as well as a brand new timeslot on Wednesday nights.

The national body also confirmed it is working on a new international component, the details of which will be announced in due course. The Herald understands this will be a "Champions League" style play-offs series, featuring the top franchises from New Zealand, Australia, and potentially further afield.

This will be a Netball NZ-run event, rather than a joint initiative with Netball Australia.
Along details of the new league, Netball NZ has announced Sky has recommitted for a further five years.

Netball New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole said it is the most significant NZ broadcast deal in the sport's history.

"Today's announcement is a defining moment for netball and women's sport in New Zealand," Poole said.

"This is the first time in NNZ's history we have been in the position to secure a five-year broadcast deal, which is testament to the growth and popularity of the sport in New Zealand and commitment of our leading sports broadcaster Sky."

Read more:

New Zealand Netball Players Association executive manager, Stephanie Bond said her organisation have been working closely with NNZ in the formation of the new competition.

"The players are genuinely excited about the new-look competition and believe it is the best step forward for Netball in New Zealand. It will continue to provide opportunities for NZ players to play at an elite level and against international opponents," Bond said.

Australia is set to move to an eight-team domestic league, featuring three new franchises backed by private investors.

Netball Australia today announced the three preferred bidders for new teams are Collingwood Football Club, Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club (based at Storm's Sunshine Coast facilities and in conjunction with the University of the Sunshine Coast) and Netball NSW (in a strategic alliance with GWS Giants).

The mixed ownership model of state and private enterprise is already creating tension in Australia, with the state-run franchises concerned they will be unable to compete with the resources of the likes of the Storm and Collingwood.

To fund its new league, Netball Australia has finally landed its Holy Grail - a paid broadcast deal.

The five-year deal with Nine Network and Telstra ensures live free-to-air television for two games a week and delayed television for all games from the 2017 season. It is understood the live games will be on a Saturday night, pitting netball up against the NRL and AFL.

Netball Australia chief executive said it is the most significant broadcasting rights agreement in the history of Australian women's sport.

"It is truly transformative," she said. "It lays the foundation for the full professionalisation of elite netball and the cementing of Australia's reputation as having the prime netball competition in the world."

Today's news has long been sign-posted, after Netball Australia announced in December it was seeking to expand the league and taking expressions of interest for new franchise licences. The structure of the new competition was to be worked through once Netball Australia had assessed bids for new franchises, and gauged interest from broadcasters.

As the Herald revealed at the time, a split in the competition was one of the options being discussed.

By March it became clear this was the most likely outcome, with Netball NZ chief executive Hilary Poole admitting her organisation had begun "looking more seriously" at a standalone domestic competition.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 11 Dec 2016 05:56:16 Processing Time: 100ms