Netball New Zealand will likely foot the bill for a new Auckland-based franchise for the first couple of years.

The national body yesterday announced plans for a six-team "elite domestic competition" in 2017, confirming the end of the ANZ Championship. The new triple-round competition will feature the five existing franchises along with a start-up team based in the greater Auckland area.

Australia, meanwhile, will move to an eight-team league, with its three new franchises to be supported by private investors.

Netball Australia's three preferred bidders are the Collingwood AFL club, the Melbourne Storm rugby league club (based at the Storm's Sunshine Coast facilities and in conjunction with Sunshine Coast University) and Netball New South Wales (in partnership with AFL club the Greater Western Sydney Giants).


The mixed ownership model of state and private enterprise has been met with anywhere from trepidation to discontent in Australian netball circles, with the state-run franchises concerned they will be unable to compete with the resources of the likes of the Storm and Collingwood.

Netball NZ's plans for expansion has also created churn, albeit on a lesser scale.

The addition of a second team under the umbrella of Netball Northern creates massive challenges for zone management, who are still struggling to make one franchise profitable.

Netball NZ chief executive Hilary Poole said the national body are prepared to financially support the new franchise through the start-up stage.

"It's at the point where we have realised Netball NZ needs to own and underwrite a team to get it up," she said. "The time frames are really scary, it's pretty tight."

Poole said a working party with representatives from Netball NZ and Netball Northern management has been established to work through details such as location, a team name, and coaching and management personnel.

18 May, 2016 1:30pm
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"We will be resourcing it with a franchise general manager, who will work with the working party and the board and because it needs to operate with fairness, it's important it will be governed with independence."

Netball Northern chairwoman Dianne McAteer said while she is confident Auckland netball has the fanbase to support a second team, her biggest concern is finding commercial partners in a congested Auckland sports market.

The new team will not only be competing with the Mystics, but also the Blues, Warriors and Breakers for the sports sponsorship dollar.

"The sponsorship, commercial partnership pieces are a real challenge for us. There is an opportunity to spread the overheads of two teams in a more cost-effective way than we are currently, so we will look for a potential upside there," said McAteer.