Netball Australia warned $18m will be stripped and reallocated to other sports in latest blow
Cash-strapped Netball Australia has been warned nearly $18m in funding will soon be reallocated to other sports amid concerns it will not be appropriately spent.
The federal government sounded the alarm on the future of a Morrison-era pledge to invest $30m in the sport after the organisation failed to provide a satisfactory business case.
Of the $30m committed by the former government, $12.175m has already been handed out and was spent on digital initiatives, the bid for the 2027 World Cup and other programs.
But the remaining funds, about $17.83m, that had been set aside were left in limbo after the embattled organisation provided an underwhelming pitch to the Albanese government.
“On the matter of remaining uncontracted funds that had been set aside for Netball Australia, those funds had always been subject to the receipt of a sufficiently robust business case,” the government said in a statement.
“A satisfactory proposal has not been received that would enable appropriate use of these taxpayer funds.”
The Australian Sports Commission received the submission six weeks ago after being left waiting by NA for a formal submission for 18 months.
It’s understood a source of frustration was a lack of progress towards the World Cup compared with other sports such as rugby, which is also hosting its own landmark event in 2029.
Sports Minister Anika Wells said netball was “too important” for it to not be successful and noted the government already provided almost $4m in annual support to the Diamonds.
“We will continue funding discussions with a view to ensuring the 2027 World Cup provides the sport its Matildas moment,” she said.
The impasse could result in the taxpayer funds being reallocated to other women’s sports, with Netball Australia being welcome to reapply for the funds already promised to them.
“I’m focused on outcomes for female athletes and quite simply, this money needs to be directed to areas I’m confident positive outcomes will happen,” Ms Wells said.
The government said it “remains open” to discussion with Netball Australia about future opportunities.
Netball Australia was contacted for comment but declined to respond to the questions put to them.
Instead, it referred to a statement provided to Code Sports on Wednesday that said it would continue to work with the government and the Australian Sports Commission regarding future funding.
“Netball is a cornerstone of Australian sport, with more than one million Australians participating or connecting with the sport,” a spokesman said.
“Netball also remains the No.1 participation sport for women and girls across the country.”
The matter is just the latest in a long line of controversies for the sport, including concerns about its financial viability and a bitter battle with players over a pay deal that has left them without pay for eight weeks.
Netball great Liz Ellis slammed NA’s latest offer, an 11 per cent pay rise over three years and back pay from October 1 as “offensive”.
Players’ association chief Kathryn Harby-Williams also labelled the move a “publicity stunt” as the union announced super netball players had rejected the interim offer. The union is pushing for a revenue-share proposal, which NA has refused to budge on.
Both parties are expected to return to the negotiating table on Friday.
Ms Wells declined to comment on the current challenges. A government spokesman said it was a matter for NA and its commercial partners, including private clubs.
Originally published as Netball Australia warned $18m will be stripped and reallocated to other sports in latest blow