Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan open to gambling sponsorship but denies organization is facing financial ruin

Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan has denied reports that the sport is on the verge of financial collapse but says it must look for “commercial opportunities outside the sport”, which could include gambling sponsorships, as it works to repay its debts and stabilize the organisation.

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast on Friday, Ryan, who took over as CEO last year, said taking money from gambling companies was not “out of the realms of possibility” as the organization looked to generate more revenue following reports that its coffers took a $7.2 million hit over the past two years, leaving the organization in $4 million of debt.

“The reality is that gambling sponsorships are very significant and very lucrative in sports,” Ryan said.

“Netball has to put itself a little bit more outside its comfort zone in terms of what it does contemplate and consider.

“We have to understand the commercial viability of the [Super Netball] league, the make-up of the assets and how it flows between teams and the league, and more importantly, we need to drive the consumer connection with the sport: turning the grassroots participation base, which is incredibly strong across the whole country, into avid fans of Super Netball and also the Diamonds.

“That will help propel the commercial model of the sport, so that’s what we’re fixed on now.”

Ryan’s comments come the day after a News Corp investigation claimed that years of poor financial management dating back to the beginning of the SN series, as well as an over-reliance on special government handouts, had meant the sport could face foreclosure within 12 months if debts were not settled.

The report suggested that NA did not have “a commercially viable plan” after walking away from the Trans-Tasman series to launch the current competition in 2016, with consecutive years of revenue losses resulting in debts of approximately $4 million that must be paid by the end of 2023.

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