Netball bosses mull over major comp changes

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 02/03/2014

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The Trans-Tasman Netball League has received "positive feedback" on the prospect of moving the season from winter to summer and organisers are also touting netball's version of the "Ranfurly Shield".

Findings of a wide-ranging independent review conducted by research company Gemba were presented to TTNL last week.

Part of the study focused on the feasibility of the radical option to shift the season from winter to summer.

Netball's desire is to significantly boost broadcast revenue, particularly in the intensely competitive Australian market, and attract additional viewership by having fewer sports to compete with.

TTNL chief executive Andy Crook was reluctant to discuss specific details of Gemba's report, but did confirm their research supported a move to summer after the Netball World Cup in 2016.

"That was definitely one of the things that was worth exploring further," Crook said.

"The report has come back and there are some positive aspects we're going to continue to look at, and some aspects that will drop off the radar. It's allowed us to narrow our focus."

Serious consideration about the proposal and consolation with key stakeholders will now take place, before a decision is made within the next two months.

"There's no doubt the netball industry is looking for some positive change," Crook said.

"Some of those initiatives, including the length of the season, the format, timing and introducing a cup have been really well received."

The "cup" initiative is understood to be along the same lines as New Zealand rugby's Ranfurly Shield.

While the format is yet to be determined, a cup, shield or trophy is expected to be put on the line by both Australian and Kiwi teams who play at home.

"We are looking to implement a cup or a shield for 2015," Crook revealed.

"Models we've looked at are things like the Ranfurly Shield which works well in New Zealand.

"We're drawing up those sorts of concepts at the moment. The feedback from the teams and everyone has been positive. The likely scenario is there will be a cup or shield contested in 2015."

Meanwhile, the Northern Mystics open their campaign with a tough away trip to Melbourne today, while the Southern Steel take on the Queensland Firebirds in Invercargill.

Tomorrow, the Central Pulse host last year's champions, the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

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