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Victoria frontrunner to replace Magpies netball side

Victoria is the frontrunner to have two Super Netball teams despite Collingwood's call to axe its netball program because it was unsustainable.

Picture: James Ross.

Victoria still looks likely to have two Super Netball teams based in the state despite Collingwood's decision to withdraw from the competition. The AFL giants announced on Thursday they would hand back their licence at the end of the current season following a review which determined the netball program was "not sustainable".

Magpies chief executive Craig Kelly acknowledged the club could have run a better netball program but blamed Netball Australia's financial woes for contributing to its decision. Under the current broadcast agreement NA needs to maintain an eight-team competition, with talks already underway between the governing body and Netball Victoria.

The state said it had the player depth and fanbase to sustain two Super Netball teams.

The Melbourne Vixens, who won the title in 2020 and reached the grand final last year, currently sit fourth on the ladder and are well supported.

"We firmly believe Victoria has the talent and the fanbase to sustain two teams at the elite level and we are working closely with Netball Australia and the Victorian Government on the best way forward," said Netball Victoria CEO Andrea Pearman.

Possible franchises in Canberra, Geelong and a team affiliated with the NRL club Gold Coast said they wouldn't be ready by round one in March 2024.  Outside of Melbourne, Tasmania looms as a possibility but there are contractual commitments around location with broadcast partners Foxtel, who will have a large say where the new side resides.

NA boss Kelly Ryan said they had other options and wouldn't rush into a decision but was "confident" they would have a new team in place before the 2024 season. "It's probably in the sport's best interests not to put too many limiting factors around what the eighth licence could look like," Ryan said.

"Discussions are ongoing and it's hard to say how quickly they will progress as it's important that we get the next licence right. I'm most definitely confident based on the conversations we've had to date."

Collingwood have made finals just three times since 2017 and currently sit second-last with two wins from 10 games. Despite being among the biggest teams in the AFL and collecting a million-dollar infrastructure grant to build new women's facilities, the Magpies wanted additional funding from NA, which was rejected.

NA revealed last week it was $300,000 above budget in 2022 but still held $4.2 million in debt after the impact of COVID-19 left it in a huge hole.

"The challenges Netball Australia has experienced and continues to experience in terms of profitability combined with the current impasse in regard to finalising the TPA (Team Participation Agreement) and CPA (Collective Player Agreement), played a key role in our decision-making," Kelly said.

Ryan rejected that had any impact on the club's decision, adding NA was disappointed in the Magpies' stance. "CPA conversations happen in every single sport and I'm not sure why that's particularly pertinent to continuing a licence," she said.

"I find that commentary very disappointing and cannot agree with some of the rationale they're providing."

Kelly said the club would continue to develop female athletes through the  AFLW and VFLW programs and support the netball players and staff as they wind down the Super side.


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