Victoria to sponsor Australian Diamonds netball team after Hancock Prospecting exit

The Victorian government has announced a four-and-a-half-year deal to become the new sponsor of Netball Australia after Hancock Prospecting’s withdrawal from its $15m partnership amid controversy earlier this month.

The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, has called the agreement, which will see Visit Victoria plug the hole left by Hancock Prospecting, “a coup”.

Andrews said on Monday the new deal – also worth $15m – had several elements to it and, in addition to supporting the game at the elite level, the partnership will aim to encourage grassroots participation in the sport, particularly in culturally diverse communities.

Andrews also confirmed that Diamonds players would wear the Visit Victoria logo on their uniforms. Under the original Hancock Prospecting deal, some of the playing group expressed concerns that ultimately led to the agreement’s demise.

The Diamonds – the world’s top-ranked team – will play one Test match a year for the duration of the deal and hold their high-performance training camps in Victoria between 2023 and 2026. Next year’s Super Netball Grand Final will also be played in Victoria as part of the deal.

“We are really thrilled today to be able to announce a four-and-a-half-year sponsorship deal where Visit Victoria will become a significant sponsor for the Australian Diamonds netball team,” Andrews said. “This is a coup for our state.

“Obviously there was a sponsor. That sponsor was no more so there was a gap and Visit Victoria raced to fill it. Other states wanted this but Victoria secured it.

“Players in that Diamonds team will wear the Visit Victoria logo. There will be social media content, digital content, advertising during big games. There’ll also be, courtside, a presence as well, taking what is the sports capital, the major events sports capital – food, wine, everything in between capital – of our nation. It’s all about encouraging more people to come here and visit Victoria.

“There’ll be members of the national squad that’ll be involved in participation efforts at that grassroots level. So, going out into Victorian communities, particularly in culturally and linguistically diverse areas.

“As I said, the uniform, logo, signage, promotional material, all manner of digital content – again, using the very best netballers in our country to project all that we offer nationally and internationally. That advertising’s really important.”

Cash-strapped Netball Australia has been searching for a new sponsor – and a way to ease the financial stress on the organisation – since Hancock pulled out of its deal on 22 October after a player backlash led to scrutiny.

The team had reportedly stood with squad member Donnell Wallam, an Indigenous player, who had raised concerns within the playing group about the company’s record on Indigenous issues. Despite pulling out, Hancock said it would provide short-term funding until a new major partner was found.

Netball Australia chief executive, Kelly Ryan, welcomed the new deal that covers the national team’s preparations for next year’s Netball World Cup and Victorian 2026 Commonwealth Games.

“Victoria is a proud sporting state and we are delighted to announce a new partnership with Visit Victoria,” Ryan said. “The partnership will guarantee Victorians the opportunity to experience more netball across the next five years.

“This investment will benefit all levels of netball – from our pathway system to the Suncorp Super Netball League and the Origin Australian Diamonds.”