Netball-Australia body funding under threat amid players' pay dispute

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Netball Australia (NA) may miss out on A$18 million ($11.94 million) in public funding amid an ongoing pay dispute with players from the country's professional Super Netball league.

The government said it had not received a satisfactory business case for the funding, part of a A$30m pledge by the former Liberal/National Coalition government in 2019.

"On the matter of remaining uncontracted funds that had been set aside for Netball Australia, those funds had always been subject to the receipt of a sufficiently robust business case," the government said in a statement.

"A satisfactory proposal has not been received that would enable appropriate use of these taxpayer funds."

Governing body NA were unable to provide immediate comment.

The funding warning comes amid an increasingly bitter pay dispute with Super Netball players, whose contracts expired in September, leaving them technically unemployed.

NA on Wednesday offered players an 11% pay rise across the term of the new collective bargaining agreement as an interim deal while agreeing to continue negotiations on a revenue-share model.

Players rejected the proposal.

Australian Netball Players Association (ANPA) President Jo Weston burst into tears at a press conference on Thursday when describing the impact of the dispute on players, who boycotted an awards night over the weekend in protest.

"It's been really hard," she told reporters.

"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."

ANPA chief executive Kathryn Harby-Williams said players had been sleeping in cars and had moved back in with their families to make ends meet during the stand-off.

"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, referring to Weston's tears.

Average salaries for Super Netball players are about A$65,000, local media have reported.

($1 = 1.5076 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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