Mavericks left ‘deeply saddened’ as netball superleague season is voided

PUBLISHED: 12:16 01 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:18 01 June 2020

Saracens Mavericks' director of netball Kat Ratnapala during the pre-season friendly with Wasps. Picture: STEVE PORTER

Saracens Mavericks' director of netball Kat Ratnapala during the pre-season friendly with Wasps. Picture: STEVE PORTER

Steve Porter

Saracens Mavericks have said they are “deeply saddened” by the end of the Netball Superleague and admits the decision makes the future of the franchise far from rosy.

The 10 teams who make up the country’s top-flight division had played only a maximum of four games this term, with the Mavericks’ tally one less that.

And despite hopes that almost a whole year wouldn’t go to waste, with clubs losing all of their vital income, England Netball and the Superleague board believe voiding the season is the only way “to guarantee the safety of the netball family and protect the long term future of all VNSL teams”.

However, Gloria Keech, franchise director of the Hatfield-based club, is not fully convinced and has asked the Mavericks’ supporters to stick with them.

She said: “While we are deeply saddened by this announcement, we hope that all of our valued Mavericks family understand the reasons for the decision. We are still working exceptionally hard behind the scenes and would welcome your continued support as we now look ahead to 2021.

“As we start the process of assessing how this decision affects all of us, our club, staff, players, volunteers, partners, sponsors, the wider community and you our valued supporters, now more than ever before we need to call upon our Mavericks family for your continued support through this difficult time.

“With no income generation from tickets sales, camps, masterclasses or merchandise and many other revenue streams for this season, we now face huge challenges, along with other professional sports clubs.

“We hope that in this extraordinary situation our fans will stay behind us, as they always have done in the past and continue to be the best fans in the league.

“If there is any way that you believe that you can help please email mavericksadmin@saracens.net.

The authorities said the decision to void the season was just one of the options available to them, with the others being to extend the season or resume behind closed doors.

They have also said they are now looking into alternative interim solutions including a standalone short-form competition or potential event in the autumn if it’s achievable and safe to do so.

Fran Connolly, CEO of England Netball, said: “After many weeks of following government guidance and planning for a variety of different scenarios, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Superleague season.

“It has become clear that large sporting gatherings will unlikely be deemed safe in coming months and after lengthy discussions we believe it would not be logistically possible or sustainable without crowds to reignite the season, which we are very disappointed to have to announce but it’s vital we no longer keep teams and players in limbo on the matter.

“The start of the 2020 season was the most successful yet with record breaking crowds joining us for the season opener in February and we don’t want to see that momentum dwindle away, but it’s key that we protect the longevity of all 10 teams so that we can come back next season bigger and stronger than before.

“We do hope though that fans continue to support their teams and stay engaged with the sport digitally until we can all get on court again.”

Elite athletes have been given the go-ahead to train together though and England Roses will take advantage of this.

Head coach Jess Thirlby said: “The Roses’ initial return to training will likely look a bit different to what they are used as we need to ensure all safety aspects are considered but it’s great that they can start making those steps to getting back into a training environment.”

“We are still in talks with the International Netball Federation, venues and other teams to begin mapping out what future internationals could look like when social distancing is relaxed and fans can gather again.”


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