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The Netball Show with Flyhawk

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Magpies “in danger” of folding

The Magpies currently sit last on the Super Netball ladder, and remain arguably the least successful club since their inception in 2017.

The club was introduced after the trans-Tasman ANZ Championship folded, with the two nations opting to run separate elite competitions.

But weeks after the club met with Netball Australia officials about whether Collingwood – one of Australia’s most powerful sporting clubs in the country – would continue to back a netball team, players and staff were shocked to be informed of the news on Tuesday by Magpies CEO Craig Kelly.

Kelly told players the club’s future remains up in the air with Collingwood seriously contemplating paying out their franchise licence to avoid continuing on in the Super Netball competition in 2024. Players were reportedly left shocked and frustrated by the news, given there’s still five games to go this season.

Magpies captain Geva Mentor summed up the reaction with an Instagram story which cited the league and Netball Australia with the caption “time to sort your sh*t out please!”.

“From what I am aware, the girls went to training just like any other Tuesday,” former Magpie Madison Browne told Fox Sports News.”

“There was a meeting called with Craig Kelly. The HR manager and media manager, all the players, coaching staff … he let them know of the news there. No one was told prior. Everyone was in there and their fate was kind of spoken to them. I don’t think it’s a surprise the club has been haemorrhaging financially with the netball program.”

“But with five weeks to go, why this information now? Where does it leave us? There’s a clause for club owners that at any time, for bankruptcy purposes, they can call it quits and terminate players’ contracts – so they can stop paying them immediately.

“(The players’) futures are hanging on literally by a thread.”

It’s believed the Magpies approached NA for financial assistance/support, but the governing body is already in its own financial hole – with debts of an estimated $11 million.

The sport is already in danger of financial ruin after losing $7.2 million over two years and with a confirmed $4 million in bank debt.

The Collingwood news is a massive blow to not just the players and club staff, but to netballers in Victoria, the Super Netball competition and the netball community as a whole.

As it stands, all Super Netball players were already concerned for their futures with no CPA in place for next season – meaning all athletes are off contract come season’s end in July.

If there’s only seven teams left in the competition, that means there’s 10 less contracts to be offered to players for 2024.

Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan confirmed she had been approached by the Magpies over whether the club wants to continue a team for next season.

“Netball Australia has been notified by Collingwood that it is reviewing its Suncorp Super Netball team program,” she said in a statement. We’re working with Collingwood and all stakeholders in relation to this matter. Netball Australia is committed to an eight-team Suncorp Super Netball competition in 2024.”

But whether that team is the Magpies remains up in the air – and also raises plenty of questions over where that eighth team could come from if it’s not Collingwood.

There’s only 10 months until the 2024 season would be likely to begin – should the CPA be signed at a later date.

Collingwood is one of the only clubs in Super Netball not currently backed by a State netball organisation, along with the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

The GWS Giants have a 50 per cent backing from Netball NSW, while the Lightning – who achieved instant success on their arrival into the competition – have the support of both NRL team the Melbourne Storm and Deakin University while playing matches outside of Brisbane where the Netball Queensland-backed Firebirds operate.

The Victorian Government won’t be able to bail out the Magpies, given they’ve already stumped up the $15 million sponsorship to cover the withdrawal of Gina Rinehart’s support for netball after last year’s logo controversy.

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