Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Squad size reduction in discussions

The successful New Zealand team over Jamaica in the International Netball test. Photo / NZPA
The successful New Zealand team over Jamaica in the International Netball test. Photo / NZPA

Netball bosses are weighing up a proposal to slash squad sizes in the new elite domestic league next year.

Among the options being discussed in the collective bargaining process between Netball New Zealand and the Players' Association is the reduction of team numbers from 12 to 10 for the new competition.

That would mean that despite the introduction of a sixth team next season, there won't be any extra top-level playing contracts up for grabs.

Reducing the size of teams will address concerns that adding another franchise into the mix will dilute the talent in the New Zealand competition, but there are strong financial motivations as well.

It would mean more cash to spread around the contracted group, and mitigate the risk of top players heading to Australia.

Netball New Zealand's new five-year TV deal with Sky is understood to be to the same level the broadcaster was paying for the ANZ Championship.

The big difference is, Netball NZ no longer have to split the takings with their Australian counterparts, giving franchises the ability to invest more back into their high performance systems.

There are risks to reducing team numbers - the biggest being the potential to create positional shortages in teams, while any injuries could wreak havoc on a franchise.

It is likely if Netball NZ did reduce the contracted spots down to 10 per team, the franchises would be able to draw on players from their respective Beko League teams for development spots.

- NZ Herald

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