Netball clubs in the UK are turning to fans for financial support after Superleague cancellation and China has released guidelines for the return of sport…

Superleague

English Superleague netball clubs have called on fans for financial support after ticket sales were completely wiped out following the cancellation of the top-flight competition due to COVID-19.

The season was scrapped last week and netball is facing a blackout until 2021, which the Manchester Thunder said would leave clubs with a “huge financial liability.”

The Thunder, who are the reigning Superleague champions, explained to fans that ticket sales accounted for the majority of its income and urged fans to donate the cost of any tickets to the club.

Thunder said in a social media post: “With the 2020 VNSL season now ended, for us tickets are where most of our income comes from. If you have a matchday game ticket and can donate the cost of your ticket to help the survival of the team, please let Ticketline know before Monday 15th June.”

In addition, the Saracens Mavericks has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £50,000 to secure its long-term future.

Kat Ratnapala, the Mavericks’ head coach who set up the initiative, told Telegraph Sport: “It is a jump in the dark. We only had one home game this season to bring in revenue and ticket sales and for us now not having any income from a ticket sale perspective but also having to stop all of the community work, is just a huge hole in our budget and in our finances.

“People have contacted us already with regards to rolling over their tickets for next year and offering donations. It’s very much about offering anyone who wants to support us with the opportunity to dip their hand in their pocket and help us out at this incredibly difficult time.”

The move comes days after UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden vowed to ensure that women’s sport retains its momentum of the last few years, with many concerned that COVID-19 cutbacks have fallen disproportionately on women’s sport.

Scottish festivals

Marie Christie, head of events development at government agency VisitScotland, said events and festivals are likely to have to be completely “remodelled” in 2021.

After the mass cancellation and postponement of events due to COVID-19, festivals that work on a 9-12 month planning cycle are now considering ways to survive and potentially return with socially distanced and hygiene measures in place.

Large gatherings of people for cultural and sporting events are expected to be some of the last elements returned in Scotland, with the first restrictions imposed on the industry in mid-March.

Christie said during an online panel discussion on the future of Scotland’s events and festivals: “Events are a huge contributor to Scotland’s economic, social and cultural life. But this year is unlikely to see more than very limited event activity and 2021, in my view, will see a very cautious return, with events looking to remodel themselves in the context of social distancing restrictions, public sentiment and in response to the developing economic situation.

“Many cultural events work on a 9-12 month planning cycle and often organisations are focused on the delivery of just one annual festival. If that opportunity is lost, the cashflow and survival issues are significantly exacerbated.

“A high proportion of festivalgoers have retained their tickets for postponed events and some festival friends schemes have allowed fees to be repurposed for resilience, but it cannot be ignored that finances will continue to be stretched to the max, the public sector will be under unprecedented pressure and all investments are expected to be heavily scrutinised. There will be significant risk over commercial income from sponsors and ticket sales.”

China

Stadia and arenas in China have been given the greenlight to begin holding events again, which opens the door for concerts to go ahead once the Ministry of Culture allows it.

The news is part of the country’s General Administration of Sport’s new guidelines that detail principles and requirements to support the recovery of sporting events.

The document noted that actual reopening measures will be determined regionally based on local conditions and that each event will be required to make their own management and prevention plan, with organisers will bear responsibility in the case of any outbreak.

The China Super League, CBA and other professional sports have been given tentative approval to resume, but are required to have their independently formulated event recovery plans reviewed and evaluated first.

Marathons and other mass participation sports are still banned, as well as international and national level events.

Image: Saracens Mavericks / Twitter