Australia’s top netballers will be the beneficiaries of a landmark agreement between Netball Australia, the Australian Netball Players’ Association and the eight participating clubs in the new national netball league.
Under the new collective agreement, the 80 athletes contracted to next year’s league will share from a total payment pool of $5.4 million.
Each club will have up to $675,000 to spend on its list of 10 contracted athletes, meaning that the average salary will increase to $67,500.
“Today’s announcement represents a giant step in our collective aspiration to achieve full-time professionalism for all of our athletes”, said Marne Fechner, Netball Australia’s Deputy Chief Executive.
Fechner led the negotiations, which commenced in May immediately following the announcement of Netball’s new broadcast partnerships with the Nine Network and Telstra.
“We wanted to set the benchmark for women’s sport, and we absolutely believe that we have achieved this with the new CPA (collective playing agreement)”, said Fechner.
The bulk of the payment pool for each club comprises $500,000 in retainer payments, plus up to $150,000 for bona fide employment, education and/or ambassador roles. The remaining payments come from health insurance and technology allowances.
The minimum salary will more than double from the previous (ANZ Championship) deal, from just $13,250 to $27,375.
According to Bianca Chatfield, former Australian Diamond and Melbourne Vixens Captain and now heading up the Australian Netball Players’ Association, pay increases are just part of the story.
“This has been a journey over many years between the athletes and the sport. Whilst we are not yet fully professional, the collaboration and collective will of all parties mean this will not be far away”, explained Chatfield.
“Our ambition throughout this whole process has been to achieve that perfect balance between semi-professionalism, with the best possible conditions for our athletes.
“The athletes are excited that Netball has committed to invest a greater proportion of its revenue than any other sport (male or female) into its athletes, truly recognising their contribution to growing the game”, said Chatfield.
For the first time, all athletes in the new league will be on 12 month part-time contracts, averaging 20 hours per week. The hours from 10am to 4pm will be protected, providing every athlete with the opportunity for additional work and/or study.
In addition to the player payments, league athletes will be entitled to a groundbreaking parental care policy for players with young children; private health insurance contributions of up to $1,500 per annum, per player; and 100% income protection on all earnings for up to two years in the event of injury or pregnancy.
Netball Australia also confirmed today that the finalisation of the CPA deal means that clubs may commence contracting. This follows recent speculation about player movements, which are yet to be confirmed by any club.
The contracting period will open on Monday 19 September, with all clubs required to finalise their lists of 10 by Friday 30 September. Clubs will be required to lodge contracts with the League Compliance Manager prior to any official announcements regarding player signings.