Tracey Neville believes Vitality Netball Superleague season needs to run in full upon resumption
"I don't know what [the schedule and timing] could look like but to shorten the season or decrease the number of matches or anything that like would be an absolute travesty for the franchises"
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 28/03/20 4:01pm
Tracey Neville believes that when it is safe for netball to return in England, the Vitality Netball Superleague season does need to be run in full in order to fully support franchises.
Prior to her time in charge of England's Vitality Roses and leading them to a Commonwealth Games gold and Netball World Cup bronze, Neville was in charge of Manchester Thunder for four years following a stint with Team Northumbria.
It's a grounding that has provided in-depth knowledge about running franchises but in discussing the league's potential resumption, Neville is fully aware that the global situation and the health of all comes before anything else.
With partner Michael, with whom she has just had her first child, being a key worker, brother Gary opening the doors of the two hotels that he owns with Ryan Giggs to NHS workers in Manchester and other brother Phil and wife Julie creating 10,000 care packages of NHS staff, the family are all doing what they can at this time.
We are truly honoured to be able to support the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust during this extremely challenging time. Any #NHSSTAFF who need accommodation are advised to follow the internal booking process that was shared via @MFTnhs internal communications #Covid_19— Stock Exchange Hotel (@StockExHotel) March 20, 2020
When it comes to domestic netball in England, the Superleague competition was suspended on March 17 and its pathway forwards will be reviewed further in mid-April during a meeting between the Vitality Netball Superleague board and all franchises.
Since that point, Surrey Storm's Mikki Austin has shared a view with Sky Sports News that a potential 'Super Cup-style tournament' might be an option upon the league's resumption.
Austin: Super Cup-style tournament?
Mikki Austin believes the Vitality Netball Superleague may have to look at something completely separate like a 'Super Cup-style tournament'.
From the former Roses coach's point of view, moving down that route wouldn't be a positive step for domestic netball in England.
The success that Neville helped to create at an international level, assisted the Superleague in boosting its position within the English sporting landscape. In recent years, its profile has risen and on court the standard continued to rise.
"I do really hope that they try not to cut short the season and they do try and play the season out," Neville said.
"My worry is for the franchises, because they all work on ticketing revenue and the more games that are played, the more revenue they can generate. To see a decrease in netball at this particular time, when it's on the rise, would just be devastating."
With these being unprecedented times both inside and outside of the sporting arena, there perhaps is an option for the sporting 'rulebook' to be thrown out of the window and an exceptional calendar considered.
In that regard, one scenario could be to play out a full domestic season as normal before showing flexibility to re-establish back to the norm in future years. This is something that Neville is on board with.
"I totally agree [playing out and then re-establishing]," she said.
"At the end of the day, the Roses are hugely important and the future of them is incredibly important however their income [at the moment] is sustainable. Whereas, the Superleague cannot see a decrease in its competition without it having an impact financially.
"I don't know what [the schedule and timing] could look like but to shorten the season or decrease the number of matches or anything like that would be an absolute travesty for the franchises.
"They need to make the revenue to be able to keep them going next year and to pay contracted players because now these players are now employed.
"The financial hit on franchises, comes not only from the ticket revenue but also from the elements that they put around matches, like the merchandise and also courses and camps.
"I do hope that they see that the season does need to run," Neville concluded.