Victorian Netball League axes Ballarat Pride

BALLARAT Pride has been axed from the Victorian Netball League.

After this season, Pride will be unable play in the VNL under its existing model after an extensive Netball Victoria review into the competition deemed it unworthy of a licence extension.

Review findings, released yesterday, dictated that every club bar Pride would be granted to play on for the next three years.

Pride has the opportunity to reapply for seasons 2015-2017 but will now have to compete against other franchises for the vacant licence.

Netball Victoria chief executive officer Michelle Plane said the review was necessary in order to maintain the lofty standards of competition that the VNL has set.

“The review looked at the best ways of ensuring sustainability of both the individual clubs and the league itself,” Plane said.

“Following this review it has been determined that nine of the existing clubs will be offered renewed licences for three years.

“The remaining club, Ballarat Pride, will not be renewed.”

On court performance was just one measure

of the review, with club marketing, community support and financial standing also measured.

The VNL was established for the 2009 season as part of the re-structured state league, bringing the competition in line with the formation of the Trans-Tasman Netball League.

Federation University Ballarat Pride championship coach and then-president Jo Dash spearheaded the club’s bid for its first VNL licence back in 2008.

Pride has notched up five championship division wins in the first five VNL seasons. Midway through its sixth VNL season, the club is winless.

Pride’s last championship triumph was in round three last season against Geelong Cougars. 

Victory in the final fixture of 2012 broke a 45-game losing streak dating back to May 2010.

Dash believes her club’s standing as the only truly regional club in the VNL has put it at a disadvantage given that it hosts only two home games for the 2014 season.

“I think that’s (the licence renewal process) in line with being the only country club in the VNL,” Dash said.

“There are a number of boxes to be ticked and it’s awfully hard for a country club to tick all the boxes all the time and the structure of the competition has long been a concern of mine.

“My recommendation would be that we’ll sit down and talk with Netball Victoria about the state of the competition.”

Pride officials told The Courier earlier this year that they were confident of another three-year renewal.

“We’ll certainly be financial enough to go ahead,” Pride interim club president Kaylene Trigg told The Courier in February.

“We certainly get the best home crowds of any club.

“One area we’re slightly down on is performance but, in saying that, over the course of the licences our 19/unders have been up there and our div ones have made the finals or been just out of the finals a couple of times.

“Our championship team hasn’t been able to show performance and but we certainly aren’t the worst team and we didn’t finish bottom of the ladder last year.”