Diamonds star Jo Weston has broken down in tears as she advocates for an end to the ugly Netball Australia pay dispute impacting netball players around the nation. Weston fronted the media on Thursday after the pay dispute turned ugly on the weekend when a number of players didn't attend Netball Australia's awards night.
A statement released from the players union claimed Diamonds stars were contractually obligated to attend the awards night. Courtney Bruce received the Liz Ellis award, but a lot of her fellow Super Netball players opted to snub the ceremony.
England and Swifts star Helen Housby posted on social media before the event outlining her position to why she wouldn't attend, which was backed by a number of stars. Liz Ellis spoke out about the drama on Monday and blasted Netball Australia over the awards night.
The last collective playing agreement expired eight weeks ago, leaving Super Netball players in limbo. Negotiations broke down again in October, which has left the situation ahead of next season in dire straights. Netball Australia offered an interim deal on Wednesday to backpay players with some having gone weeks without pay.
And on Thursday, Weston fronted the media and broke down in tears over how the bitter feud has unfolded. Weston - the Netball Australia Players Association representative - admitted the dispute has taken its toll as she called for a resolution on Friday. “The Netball Australia awards are one of my favourite … It’s been really hard,” Weston said as she broke down in tears.
“All of us just want to be able to move forward with what we think is fair and reasonable for our playing group. We want to feel like we’re valued. We want to feel like we’re respected and listened to and hopefully tomorrow (Friday) when we’re in the room we’ll be able to get something done for our players.”
Player union CEO Kathryn Harby-Williams broke the harsh truth that some players had been resorting to sleeping in their cars since they had not been paid for weeks. “We are desperate to get a deal done for these players because that’s the emotional toll that you are seeing right there,” she said.
“I have had players sobbing and weeping; players have slept in their cars; players have had to move out of their homes and move across the country back to families. That’s the toll that this is taking on these players.
“It’s a very fair and reasonable deal (we’re asking for). We’ve pared it back from a percentage of licensing, merchandise events, ticketing to simply a small share of above forecast sponsorship revenue.” Super Netball franchises can not contract players until a deal is agreed upon with the player revenue sharing model a gripe for Netball Australia.
Liz Ellis blasts Netball Australia over awards night
After the awards ceremony, which Ellis did not attend, she lashed out at the governing body over the treatment of the players that make the game. She called for players to receive there fair share, which has taken the shine away from the last 12 months of competition.
“My disappointment and embarrassment at not being able to attend turned into anger when I was made aware that current Diamonds players and their advisers were threatened with possible legal action if they did not attend the dinner,” Ellis wrote.
Liz Ellis has questioned the leadership of Netball Australia in a statement sharing her thoughts about the events surrounding this year’s Australian Netball Awards.
“As a former captain, I cannot believe the governing body would treat its athletes with such callous disregard.” pic.twitter.com/qSjgJucg3x
— Brittany Carter (@_BrittanyCarter) November 27, 2023
— Jo Weston (@joannamweston) November 25, 2023
“As a former Diamonds captain, I cannot believe that the governing body of the sport I love would treat its Diamonds athletes, who are brilliant role models and ambassadors for netball with such callous disregard. These are women who have not been paid in eight weeks. Who are fighting for fair pay and conditions not only for themselves but for the players who come after them. Who consider themselves as custodians of the game.
"And who I suspect would love nothing more than to attend an event where their world-beating heroics of the past twelve months were to be celebrated. Yet who felt so strongly about what they were fighting for, that they were prepared to forgo those celebrations.”
The situation is another bad look for Netball Australia, which has been been plunged into turmoil this year amid a widely publicised financial crisis gripping the sport.
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