The Super Netball season due to start on Saturday and end in August could now potentially finish as late as November.
A decision was made in late March to postpone the start until at least June 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the situation to be reviewed in May.
Two games at Melbourne Arena on Saturday and a grand final rematch between defending champions NSW Swifts and previous two-time title winners Sunshine Coast Lightning at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday, were part of the draw for the first of 14 minor premiership rounds.
“Now that the date is here it’s a strange feeling not preparing for round one,” Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) CEO Chris Symington told AAP.
Netball Australia and the SSN are in full return-to-action planning ahead of key government deadlines and haven’t ruled out returning before June 30,
“The factors that drive our decision-making are potentially different to some of the bigger codes,” Symington said.
“We have international athletes who are currently overseas so there’s some different factors involved for us in terms of how quickly we can pull the trigger.
“But clearly if the restrictions lift and the borders open up and it becomes a more open environment, then we’ll just keep pushing to get back as soon as we can.”
Six players from England and South Africa have returned to their respective home countries, with Lightning and Adelaide Thunderbirds the most affected of the eight clubs in that area.
Syminton stressed he wasn’t looking at a final date by which time the season had to start or be scrapped.
“We probably looked at it a little differently and said what’s the time frame we need to have it finished by,” he said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of our modelling for a November end date as an endpoint not necessarily wanting to go into December, and then working back from there.
“So if we have to condense the season what does that look like, with a November end date rather than what’s the latest start date.”
He said having one full round of home and away matches instead of two in the eight-team competition was probably the shortest minor premiership season that could be conducted, but still hoped to squeeze in a full season.
“We do have an advantage potentially (compared) with some of the other codes where our season is slightly shorter in terms of a number of rounds we do need to get away with the number of teams that we have,” he said.
“Considering we are only in May at the moment there is the possibility of being able to get a full season.”