Netball Superleague season cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

Saracens Mavericks in action. Credit: PA

The Vitality Netball Superleague season has been cancelled with immediate effect due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign was suspended in March after just three full rounds of fixtures.

England Netball has now announced no more matches will be played following talks with with the league's board, all 10 teams and stakeholders.

Saracens Mavericks, who play at the Hertfordshire Sports Village and the University of Essex, were fourth in the table when games were stopped.

League bosses are hopeful they will still be able to hold a "standalone short form" competition in the autumn if it is safe to do so.

Saracens Mavericks were fourth in the league when games were suspended. Credit: PA

Fans who have already bought a ticket for the Grand Final, scheduled for the Copper Box on 4 July, will be offered a refund.

"After many weeks of following Government guidance and planning for a variety of different scenarios, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 VNSL season. It has become clear that large sporting gatherings will unlikely be deemed safe in coming months," England Netball chief executive Fran Connolly said.

"And after lengthy discussions, we believe it would not be logistically possible or sustainable without crowds to reignite the season, which we are very disappointed to have to announce, but it's vital we no longer keep teams and players in limbo on the matter."

England Netball said it considered a number of options before making a final decision to cancel the season, including playing behind closed doors.

  • Watch an interview with Saracens Mavericks director Gloria Keech by ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward

Gloria Keech, who is a director at Saracens Mavericks, told ITV News Anglia that the decision was "devastating" but was ultimately the right call.

"We were hoping that it would still be able to continue but it just wasn't possible," she said.

"If I'm really honest, they couldn't have played on. You just have to have a look at all the problems, the logistics of trying to fit it in. With the level of players we've got, the amount of training they'd need, there just isn't sufficient time. It is, sadly, the right decision."

Cambridgeshire's Rachel Dunn, who plays for England, echoed Gloria's thoughts and said cancelling the campaign was the only realistic option.

  • Watch an interview with England netballer Rachel Dunn by ITV News Anglia's Raveena Ghattaura

"I think it's where everyone thought it might be going, and the priority now is just keeping people safe," she said.

"In terms of the uncertainty, you could keep going on for months and months. It will allow people to put more effort in to planning for next season, or things that could happen in later the autumn. Otherwise, you're dealing with uncertainty all the time. Hopefully it will mean everyone can spend some time putting together great plans for the future to get netball back out there for everyone."