Netball Super League: Team Bath not in relaunched league

Five-time Super League champions Team Bath have not been included in the relaunched Netball Super League (NSL), which reduces to eight teams as part of plans to go professional from 2025.

Birmingham Panthers and Nottingham Forest Netball are the new teams added, with Strathclyde Sirens, Surrey Storm and Severn Stars the other sides to miss out.

Netball’s big three – Manchester Thunder, London Pulse and Loughborough Lightning – are included.

A rebranded LexisNexis Cardiff Dragons, London Mavericks and Leeds Rhinos are the other three clubs to retain their places in the revamped league.

Selection was based on the “ability to deliver the on and off-court advancements” in order to “raise the standards of the league” to increase competitiveness.

The NSL is the sport’s elite domestic competition in the UK but many players currently work or study alongside their semi-professional netball careers.

Claire Nelson, the NSL’s managing director, has previously said player salary increases would be gradual.

Plans for the relaunch will include increasing the average salary by at least 60%, with the minimum salary payment more than doubling.

“Going from 10 clubs at present to eight next year will be a case of fewer, bigger, better,” Nelson said.

“We have big plans as a league and believe that we have the right clubs who can come on this incredible journey with us.”

The sport’s governing body – England Netball – announced plans to relaunch in October last year, opening a tender process for expressions of interest in joining the newly reformed league.

The revamp comes after England won a silver medal at the 2023 World Cup.

Netball is the women’s team sport with the highest participation in England with more than three million women taking part annually.

The new NSL plans aim to translate that to consistent interest in the elite game by improving the league with 50% of games to be played at major arenas, better salaries and increased competition across the teams through smaller squads.

England Netball chief executive Fran Connolly said it was “a pivotal moment for our sport”.

“This is without doubt the right time, and the right thing to do for the future of our sport that will help to strengthen every area of the game and inspire generations to come.”

The NSL also said every match will be available to watch from home.

This season, one match per round will be streamed on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website and app with one further match per round available on Sky Sports Youtube and two others on subscription app NetballPass.

The hope is that the new league will rival Australia’s fully professional Suncorp Super Netball League.

The NSL began in 2005 with eight teams but there have been several changes over the years with some franchises dropping out and new clubs admitted.

The league increased to 10 teams in 2017 and added an 11th from 2021.

That was until Coventry-based Wasps went into administration in 2022 and the league reverted back to 10 teams.

The 2024 season, the last in its current guise, began in February and is still ongoing with the Grand Final taking place on 29 June.

Loughborough Lightning won the 2023 Super League, beating London Pulse in the final, but the top four teams who made the semi-finals had already booked their place with four rounds of the season left to play and the competition levels in the league were called into question.

Thunder, Lightning and Pulse and Thunder occupy this season’s top three places with Stars well placed for a semi-final spot in fourth.

New franchise Birmingham Panthers “will work with the University of Worcester to build on the success of Severn Stars”, the NSL said when announcing its decision.

It said this would help “to establish netball and its players as a leading force across the region and beyond”.

Nottingham Forest Netball is owned and managed by the Premier League football team, which has “major plans to develop a multi-sport model for the football club”.

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