Netball in Australia is about to change significantly, becoming a more professional operation for both players and fans.
In an announcement from Netball Australia on Wednesday, players are to receive a monumental increase in salary in the newly established national netball league.
Under the new agreement, the 80 players contracted for next year’s league will receive double the previous minimum wage, and a significant increase in the average salary.
The minimum wage will increase from the ANZ Championships base pay of $13,250 to $27,375, while the average will jump from $40,000 to $67,500.
By comparison, players in the new AFL women’s competition will earn a minimum wage of $5000, with marquees receiving $25,000. Female cricketers can earn at least $18,000 if they play both the one-day and Twenty20 domestic leagues.
The pay rise will make netballers the highest-paid female athletes in Australia across all codes.
“Today’s announcement represents a giant step in our collective aspiration to achieve full-time professionalism for all of our athletes,” Netball Australia deputy chief executive Marne Fechner said.
“It’s a landmark day and a major step forward for athletes playing in the new national netball league.
“This does represent a new era for netball.”
Athletes will share in a total payment pool of $5.4 million dollars for Australia’s top netballers, with each of the eight teams having up to $675,000 to spend on 10 contracted players.
In addition to an increase in payments, athletes are entitled to a groundbreaking parental care policy for players with young children; private health insurance contributions of up to $1500 per annum, per player; and 100 per cent income protection on all earnings for up to two years in the event of injury or pregnancy.
With a bold new competition, a fresh pay deal and a lucrative five-year agreement with broadcaster Nine Network, the sleeping giant in sport is perched to awaken.
Netball in Australia is growing in popularity as a spectator sport after a record average crowd of 14,222 in 2015.
The latest Quad Series match between Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns in the Sunday 3pm slot tracked 61,000 viewers, one thousand fewer than those who tuned in to an international one-day cricket match between Australia and Sri Lanka.
‘Fast5’ format comes to Australia
Culminating in netball’s push to become a full-time professional sport, Netball Australia will host the world’s most exciting version of the sport next month for the first time.
The Fast5 Netball World Series, which began in 2009, will see the world’s best international teams and players come to Melbourne this October for a two-day event.
The modified version of netball includes five players per side, shortened quarters, multiple point shots and double-point power plays.
The Australian Fast5 Flyers won the silver medal in 2013 and 2014.
The tournament also provided many of the current Australian Diamonds with their first taste of international netball.