Liz Ellis elected Chair of Netball Australia Board as sport turns a leaf, records surplus after tumultuous run

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
Weeks after joining the Board of Netball Australia, legend of the game Liz Ellis has been promoted.
Weeks after joining the Board of Netball Australia, legend of the game Liz Ellis has been promoted. Credit: Jason O’Brien/AAPIMAGE

Weeks after joining the Board of Netball Australia, legend of the game Liz Ellis has been promoted.

Ellis was elected Chair at a meeting of the nine-member Board on Friday, a position the most-capped Australian Diamond — 122 games over 15 years in the national team, four of them as captain — called a “huge privilege”.

It is the latest change of the guard behind the scenes of the embattled national sporting organisation, which has faced a tumultuous period of financial strife and player unrest since the pandemic.

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But it seems Ellis’ appointment to Chair signals Netball Australia — which has also recently found a new CEO in Stacey West — has entered a new era of growth.

“Netball is in a healthy position,” Ellis said in a statement announcing her election.

“We’re seeing record crowds at Suncorp Super Netball and growing broadcast audiences this season at the same time as revenue from our commercial partners is growing. Fans are more engaged than ever which is great to see, but we will all work hard to do even better.”

Netball Australia has reported a second consecutive operating surplus in 2023, with revenue up 15 per cent year on year to $44.67 million.

The 2023 financial results, which will be tabled at the Netball Australia Annual General Meeting on Friday night reveal a surplus of $253,657.

While Netball Australia still faces a $4.2 million debt — having lost $7 million over two years of pandemic disruption — newly-minted CEO Stacey West says the increasing fan and commercial engagement and government support has “stabilised” the sport.

“The sport is building a strong position for long-term success and continued growth. We are committed to ensuring the sustainability of netball for future generations,” Ms West said.

In a video message on Friday, Ellis said the apparent turning of a new leaf in the sport was “super exciting”, even if the role made her “just a little bit nervous”.

She also warned fans that being elected Chair would mean her role in netball would “change a little bit”.

“You might not see me out there talking so much about what is going on at Netball Australia but believe me, I’m going to be working super hard behind the scenes to make sure that netball can fulfil its enormous potential,” Ellis said.

In recent years, the great Goal Keeper has been a vocal critic of Netball Australia for its handling of a rolling stream of off-court dramas — including its “callous disregard” for player welfare during the lengthy and noxious pay dispute.

She will replace Wendy Archer AM, who announced at the last AGM she would step down as Chair. She will remain Board Director.

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