Contracted players will be forced to take two weeks leave from March 30, before moving to “active rest” for seven hours per week for the next three weeks at a 70 per cent pay cut.
The netball board is yet to decide what path will be taken after the initial five-week period, with the union and governing body working under a “worst-case scenario basis”.
Netball Australia and Suncorp Super have also stood down 50 per cent of staff and reduced the hours of remaining staff and salaries of all executive staff members until 31 May 2020.
“The worst case is that we’re not able to run a league this year. If that is the case then that has major implications for everyone involved,” Symington said. “The approach needs to be, how do we survive?
“You’ve worked so hard to get these players to a semi-professional level…to have to take a backward step like this is really heartbreaking.”
Earlier this week, the Super Netball League Commission announced that the start of the season would be moved from May 31 till at least June 30.
Netball NSW boss Carolyn Campbell said the player cuts were necessary to ensure the survival of the game.
“They’re amazing people to take this step and it’s not just our players, it is our entire staff that have taken pay cuts,” Campbell said.
Across the NSW Swifts, the Giants and Netball NSW alone, staff have been either been forced to take leave, reduced their hours or have permanently lost their jobs.
“Not one of them – not one of them – arced up,” Campbell said. “I think it’s a testament to the sport.”
Netball Australia is currently offering online netball workouts and programs tailored to the netball community in an effort to find another revenue stream.
Netball great Liz Ellis said the way the girls have handled the cuts is a testament to just how “mature” and “intelligent” the group of players are.
“They understand the realities of the world at the moment,” Ellis said. “I just think it probably shows the difference in the player mentality, and I’m not gonna sit here and take pot-shots at the rugby league players.
“I think my message to them would be ‘do whatever it takes to see your sports survive’. You have to actually be quite selfless.”
The NRL proposed an 87 per cent pay cut for its players last week to ensure the survival of the professional game.
“It’s a real feeling amongst netballers that we’re in a position of privilege and I think that comes from only just being newly professional,” she said. “There’s a sense that it has to be protected for future generations.”
Ellis believes out of all the sporting codes in Australia, netball has the best chance of coming out of the coronavirus crisis alive.
“There’s been no chest-beating, there’s been no positioning. It’s just been people making good decisions,” Ellis said.
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.