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England Netball announces first steps in drive towards professionalisation

10.10.23
In association with
Shawbrook Shawbrook
Going Pro

The plan to take the domestic game in the UK to new heights has been initiated with the activation of an open tender process for interested parties to participate in a relaunched Netball Super League in 2025.

Following a historic Netball World Cup this summer, with England’s Vitality Roses reaching the final for the very first time, England Netball has announced the first step in its ambition to professionalise the domestic game in the UK.

The Netball Super League (NSL), the UK’s top-level elite netball competition, will be relaunched in 2025, marking a significant milestone in England Netball’s ambition to build the most competitive, commercially vibrant and captivating professional netball league in the world.

In 2021 England Netball commissioned an independent review into the professionalisation of the Netball Super League which consulted with stakeholders across the sport, including Clubs, the Netball Players Association and its members, and other partners, and helped shaped a long-term roadmap for the development of the domestic game. The vision for the future has been created at a time when there is significant momentum and interest in netball, and in women's sport more broadly.

The new plans will see transformational change over the next decade in the on and off court product, driven by innovation and delivering extraordinary fan experiences to power the growth of the game. Significant step changes from 2025 will include clubs playing in bigger venues and arenas, enhancements in match day events to excite live and TV viewing audiences, competition improvements to deliver more thrilling, competitive and to the wire games and advancements in the elite environment to ensure players can choose and experience rewarding careers in netball.

The future NSL will be driven forward by clubs who share the collective ambitions for the evolution of the domestic game and can deliver the on and off court advancements needed. They will operate as part of a strengthened, connected model which will be led by a newly formed NewCo, to be established next year.

From today (Tuesday 10th October 2023), England Netball is welcoming existing clubs who believe they can play their part in bringing this exciting new era to life, along with new interested parties, to express their interest to tender to participate in the relaunched league from Season 2025.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball said: “In 2021 England Netball launched its ‘Adventure Strategy’ which outlined the journey of taking our sport to new heights. Netball continues to go from strength to strength and is now the number one team sport for women in England, with over 3 million people playing annually and a TV audience of 5.6 million people watching this summer’s Netball WorldCup where the Vitality Roses made history. We now have a fantastic opportunity to build on this foundation and take our domestic game to the next level.

“Transformational yet sustainable change will take time, but we believe that going through a tender process will enable us to set new standards for the future and ensure we deliver a competitive league with clubs that are ready and able to embrace the professional era. With this next chapter, it's right that we give existing clubs the opportunity to fully consider, and demonstrate, whether they have the desire and capabilities to embark with us on the professionalisation journey, whilst remaining open to the interesting prospect that any new clubs may present. Collectively, we can shape an exciting future for the league both in terms of quality and ambition.”

Claire Nelson, Managing Director of the NSL added: “After a watershed summer of unprecedented growth in visibility and interest for women’s sport as a whole, in which netball in particular has experienced historic new levels of success on and off the court, the time is right to capitalise on the sport’s popularity and transform the domestic game.

“The relaunch of the NSL presents an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine and engineer what professional netball can and should look like here in the UK. We know that netball has huge potential in the women’s sport and entertainment arena, and we have the drive and vision to fully unlock it in order to position the NSL as a pioneering, exciting and game-changing proposition within the sports market.

Liz Bloor, Managing Director at the Netball Players Association added: “We are thrilled to be part of this exciting and ambitious moment for our sport, the start of a progressive plan to build a professional future for netball.

“This provides the long-awaited opportunity for elite netballers to become professional athletes in the UK, to showcase their talents in bigger venues in front of their fans and to earn a living playing the sport they love. For all the youngsters up and down the country who love netball, greater visibility of their heroes and the chance to dream of a netball career will be so inspiring.

“The Netball Players Association, on behalf of our members, has worked closely with England Netball over the last two years to input the players' voice and to help shape the plans for the league. We look forward to continuing our work with England Netball, the league and the clubs that become part of it to ensure the player voice continues to be integral to the decision making, the drive and the ambition for the league as the plans evolve.”

Any parties interested in participating in the relaunched league can make their expression of interest through the NSL website here up until Monday 30th October 2023. Once these have been received and assessed, invitations to tender will be distributed. Selection decisions will be confirmed in Spring 2024.

The NSL 2024 competition remains unaffected, although the upcoming season which begins in February, will be an opportunity to spark the journey towards 2025 by continuing to drive the appetite for our sport and put fans at the heart of the action.

For more information, please visit netballsl.com

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