Trans-Tasman netball split on the cards

Megan Maurice Columnist

By Megan Maurice, Megan Maurice is a Roar Expert

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    “Roy Masters broke the netball internet” is not a sentence I ever imagined penning, and yet here we are.

    Rumours have been circulating with greater and greater urgency since December last year when Netball Australia called for expressions of interest for three new teams to enter the competition in 2017.

    Speculation was rife as fans pondered what these new teams would mean for the existing competition, which currently features five teams each from Australia and New Zealand.

    A proposed split has been discussed numerous times since then, with The New Zealand Herald‘s Dana Johannsen fuelling the fire most recently. Johannsen postulated in her weekly column that Netball Australia had failed to secure the money they’d been after from a broadcast deal and thus it was likely the trans-Tasman competition would remain in a revised format.

    But it was fellow journalist Masters’ revelation in The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday that really threw a spark in this powder keg.

    He claimed a split is indeed imminent and a five-year broadcast deal for the new Australian competition with the Nine Network and Telstra is on the cards.

    The netball internet exploded and theories flew wildly back and forth across the Tasman, with rival media outlets tripping over themselves to catch up with the news.

    It was a media storm that most women’s sports in Australia could only dream of, but the wave of attention appears to be unwanted by the national body, who issued a joint statement with Netball New Zealand, saying:

    “Netball New Zealand (NNZ) and Netball Australia (NA) are surprised by the speculation and information that was published in Australian media today. We are close to reaching agreement with key parties in regard to the shape and format of the 2017 competition, and look forward to making a joint announcement next week.”

    This comment seems endemic of the attitude among the powers that be in netball, who often appear to be uncomfortable with the media having information that they haven’t expressly handed over and controlled.

    The media attention generated as a result of Masters’ article is a demonstration of how far the sport has come, even in the space of 12 months.

    Let’s not forget that in June last year, Netball Australia mistakenly loaded the names and profiles of the 12 players selected for the Netball World Cup a day before the team was officially named.

    Despite this blunder and the early reveal of the team by specialist netball site Netball Scoop, no major Australian media outlets picked up the story and the planned media launch of the team went ahead unscathed – a situation which could never have happened in a sport that receives constant mainstream media coverage.

    The time has come for netball to recognise that they are playing in the big leagues. As a driving force that has consistently led the way for women’s sport in Australia, Netball Australia need to accept and even embrace the old adage that all publicity is good publicity if they want to compete with the likes of cricket and the football codes in the battle for the public’s time and attention.

    Whatever the confirmed changes to the competition are revealed to be in the coming weeks, this is a key time for netball in Australia. The momentum of the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney is strong, but won’t continue indefinitely.

    If netball wishes to remain at the forefront of women’s sport, then the governing body needs to start fanning the flames of the media firestorm, not urgently hosing them down.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • May 12th 2016 @ 8:40am
      Cranky old ref said | May 12th 2016 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      Maybe netball aust should try head hunting some of the NRL executives…. Oh wait ..

    • May 12th 2016 @ 9:26am
      Jenn said | May 12th 2016 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      You make some great points Megan. If netball really wants to stamp its mark in mainstream media, then they need to take the good with the bad. Leaks, controversies, scandals – anything that gets the public talking and paying attention is a good thing (within reason of course).

    • May 12th 2016 @ 9:55am
      Alliec said | May 12th 2016 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Excellent article Jen – Roy Masters breaking the internet with a netball story – indeed! But yes, definitely shows that netball does have more of a mainstream audience these days and NA needs to really lift its game if it wants to really progress.

    • May 12th 2016 @ 10:47am
      PGNEWC said | May 12th 2016 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      What are the rumoured 3 new teams Jen — is one a second Sydney team?

      • May 12th 2016 @ 10:51am
        Cranky Old Ref said | May 12th 2016 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        I did read yesterday that a couple of NRL teams were looking to enter a franchise. One being the Melbourne Storm who would be placing the team in QLD. There were another 1 or 2 NRL teams thinking along the same lines but I cant remember who they were

      • May 12th 2016 @ 11:24am
        Alliec said | May 12th 2016 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        Rumoured teams are Melbourne Storm based on the Sunshine Coast, Collingwood in Melbourne and GWS in Sydney. All speculation of course but these three seem to have basis. Collingwood have confirmed that they have made a bit.

      • Roar Guru

        May 12th 2016 @ 11:27am
        Riley Pettigrew said | May 12th 2016 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Collingwood (associated with Collingwood AFL), Sunshine Coast (associated with Melbourne Storm NRL/Sunshine Coast Falcons) and Sydney 2.

        It’d make sense for the Bulldogs NRL to put in a bid for the second Sydney franchise with Raelene Castle’s background.

        • Columnist

          May 12th 2016 @ 11:40am
          Megan Maurice said | May 12th 2016 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          I have also heard the Panthers put in a bid, but that is just a rumour at this stage.

    • May 13th 2016 @ 11:35am
      Pardalote said | May 13th 2016 @ 11:35am | ! Report

      An earlier version of the ‘accidental release’ story was a couple of years ago on the night of the Netball Australia awards, when the list of winners was accidentally released several hours early. The moderator on Scoop saw it, posted and then deleted it, but Scoop seemed to be the only media who bothered discussing the stuff up.

      And just last week, the ANZC demonstrated once again their incompetence with social media: they tweeted that ‘players were wearing white arm bands to support the #standwithkaren campaign….’ When alert fans pointed out that most players were NOT wearing them, including the club which started the campaign in the ANZC, Thunderbirds, (Steel were the honorable and notable exception) the twitter account ignored it. A competent social media operator would have issued a ‘we got it wrong’, and then made sure that they recovered and supported the campaign, by getting teams to take photos of themselves wearing white armbands, and post them to the #standwithkaren site. Instead they just went quiet and hoped it would go away, which is both a disrespect of an important campaign, and a failure to engage with your stakeholders

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