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Netball - 24. July 2007.

NEW FRANCHISES SOUGHT FOR NETBALL SUPERLEAGUE

In only the first year of the competition, England’s elite netballers cited it as a major contributory factor to the national side’s bronze medal win at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Meanwhile the highlight of the Superleague’s second season was undoubtedly England’s first win over New Zealand in 32 years, during which the home side displayed a previously unseen ability to absorb and overcome the intense pressure imposed by the Kiwi World Champions.

To ensure that standards continue to rise and develop, England Netball, the game’s governing body, is now inviting applications to increase the number of participating teams from eight to ten for the 2008-9 season and beyond.

“The Netball Superleague is now firmly established as a key event in the British sporting calendar,” explains Karen Rothery, England Netball’s Commercial Director, “and the partnership with Sky Sports, which broadcast 23 complete games from last season’s competition, has seen a rapid growth in interest in netball in general, as well as a marked improvement in playing standards at both a domestic and an international level. Last season’s competition attracted an audience in excess of two and a half million viewers, and with a three year deal now being discussed with Sky Sports, we are keen to ensure that both the playing standards and entertainment levels continue to grow with the competition.”

Currently, eight franchises take part in the competition, with a geographical spread from the north east of England through to the south west. New applications are being invited particularly from those regions of the country where there is not already an existing franchise, although there is scope for applications from areas where a NSL franchise already exists. And, as Ms Rothery explains, applications can also be tendered from further afield.

“Performance and administrative standards set by the first two seasons of the Netball Superleague are already high, and it is important that we continue to challenge our athletes and administrators to ensure that domestic netball in England continues to progress. Applications will also be considered from other national netball associations within Great Britain and Ireland – the inclusion of the Celtic Dragons squad has assisted in Welsh netball development, as well as providing additional playing and administrative opportunities for talented athletes and support staff involved with England Netball.”

Groups, organisations and institutions wishing to be considered for the 2008-9 Netball Superleague season should contact Esther Nicholls, England Netball’s Competitions and Events Manager, to express interest and request an application pack. Contact Esther by telephone on 01462 428316 or email esthern@englandnetball.co.uk.

“The Netball Superleague has been described this season as Britain’s best kept sporting secret,” concludes Ms Rothery, “and the introduction of additional franchises can only help to drive the competition – and the standard of English netball overall – to new levels in the next few years.”

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