Netball focused on winning 'war' on female talent

Netball Australia is determined to come out on top in the "war on talent" after finally ending the sport's long-running pay dispute following the departure of the organisation's chief executive.

The ugliest chapter in Australian netball's proud history came to a close with a new three-year Collective Player Agreement confirmed on Wednesday, 

After not being paid since September, players are free to sign contracts for the 2024 Super Netball season.

They will also receive an immediate 11 per cent wage rise, back-dated to October 1.

Players union boss Kathryn Harby-Williams believed the new pay deal would help keep talented female athletes in netball as sports such as soccer, cricket, AFLW and NRLW improve their conditions and wages.

"We've been the sport of choice for women and girls (for a long time) and we are being challenged now," she said on Wednesday.

"We need to do everything possible to lean in to grow the sport to achieve big things.

"There is an absolute war on talent...talented netballers are often talented AFL players, so we need to make sure that they see not just at the grassroots how great the sport is, but at the very top."

Stacey West
Stacey West has replaced Kelly Ryan as Netball Australia's interim CEO.

Harby-Williams and Diamonds star Jo Weston fronted a media conference with interim NA boss Stacey West, barely 24 hours after former CEO Kelly Ryan resigned.

The trio declined to fire shots at the embattled Ryan, who was at the centre of the long-running drama between NA the players.

However, NA chairwoman Wendy Archer was blindsided by Ryan's exit, saying on Tuesday the board had no idea the organisation's former boss was considering leaving.

"We were shocked, absolutely shocked," Harby-Williams said about Archer's revelation.

"Our understanding is that chair and CEO talk should be talking regularly at any level so that does did come as a surprise. 

"As Wendy said it was Kelly's decision, the board was unaware of that, so we have to respect Kelly for making that decision."

The average potential salary for an Australian netballer will rise to $89,221 and minimum salaries will increase to $46,600 over the three years of the CPA.

NA and the players will enter into a landmark sponsorship revenue sharing partnership.

Players will receive 20 per cent of revenue above an agreed sponsorship forecast.

During the messy dispute, NA lost $17 million in federal funding after the sport failed to convince the government it would make good use of the money.

In one of her first acts as interim NA boss, West contacted Australian Sports Commission boss Kieren Perkins to ask how the sport could do better.

"The news of the loss of the $17 million investment from the federal government was was really hard to hear," West said.

"I want to acknowledge that it is a key priority moving forward, not that it wasn't a priority earlier. 

"It's an opportunity now to to understand what lies in front of us in that relationship with the Australian Sports Commission and the federal government."

The contract signing window for Super Netball teams and players begins at 4pm AEDT on Wednesday.

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