Pies Netball used to gain funding “rejected”
A $4.5bn reason Pies stayed in AFL but not netball as claims team used to get govt funding has been rejected.
Collingwood has responded to damning allegations they used their netball program to win funding for a facility upgrade, and clarified why they remain committed to AFLW instead.
After announcing the club’s decision to withdraw its team from Super Netball, critics quickly circled as CEO Craig Kelly described the program as “not sustainable”. But this is despite the club receiving more than $1m in funding from Tasmania to host games in the Apple Isle.
And the fact that while having netball and AFLW under the club’s control, that public funding was invested in an upgrade of the home base for women’s sport.
Centre Circle panellist Catherine Cox conceded it wasn’t a great look for the club given the investment in funding.
“The way it looks – the sport has now been folded … but they’ve taken that money that was what we all thought was to upgrade facilities specifically for the netball,” she explained.
On Thursday night the Magpies moved to clarify concerns surrounding the funding and reasoning behind sticking with AFLW and VFLW instead of netball.
“Yes while that funding came in part to the affiliation of the women’s sport, it was not all of it,” Centre Circle host Hannah Hollis read.
“Collingwood feel they would have received funding for upgraded women’s facilities through an AFLW licence which is similar to other AFL clubs.”
Earlier this week, Nine journalist Caroline Wilson took aim at the club for “abandoning” their netball program given the funding they received.
“Collingwood won significant public funding from a government enamoured by women’s sporting programs as a result of their netball team and then [women’s] football team,” she said on Footy Classified.
“They got bigger, brighter facilities for them to thank.
“This is poor by Collingwood.”
“It costs less than $3 million to run a netball team and Collingwood is one of the richest clubs in the land. Not good enough.”
In response to questions over why AFLW was preferred to netball: “The reason why they’ve picked the AFL over netball was because the AFL has secured the next 10 years of the game worth billions of dollars – $4.5 billion has been invested in the broadcast rights so they feel they have a clear path forward in securing the future and a clear vision for their AFLW and VFLW athletes,” Hollis explained.
Centre Circle also asked Collingwood to explain what their initial statement meant when Kelly said: “We acknowledge we could have run a better netball program at Collingwood.”
“Whilst there are many layers to it, some of the layers include working harder to grow audiences and membership – this could have been done by better fixturing to avoid clashes,” Hollis said.
Panellist Caitlin Bassett was left confused by the Magpies’ plan of attack in regards to netball from the get-go.
“How early did they identify this? (that they could have done more),” she questioned.
“What were they willing to make changes on? Did they expect to sit back and think organically everything was just going to grow and audiences and members would grow out of nothing?
“It’s a second club in Melbourne where there is already fierce rivalry and faith for the Vixens.
“What could they have done to keep this program alive, knowing they are a very resourceful club.”
Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said she was also “interested” in Collingwood’s claims that the lack of CPA for players was part of the reasoning behind the decision to fold.
“CPA conversations happen in every sport and very rarely have we seen them result in the exit of a team licence,” she said on Centre Circle.
“It was probably quite clear to us that it was going to be hard for us to meet some of their obligations as they weren’t necessarily netball related.
“In terms of the priorities, it wasn’t sitting in the netball landscape for them.”