Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan has defended the punishment imposed on the West Coast Fever late last year for a breach of the salary cap, as the club continues their charge to the grand final.
The Fever were handed a 12-point penalty and fined $300,000 after deliberately breaching the salary cap across 2018 and 2019.
The points penalty meant the Fever started the 2021 season three games behind the rest, but after they secured a place in the preliminary final with victory against the Lightning on Saturday, fans are questioning whether the punishment was enough.
The Fever finished third on the ladder after the regular season and will meet the Giants on Saturday for a place in the grand final against the NSW Swifts.
Amid the backlash, Ryan defended the governing body’s sanction and believes players should not be punished for the mistakes of administrators.
“Everyone has their own interpretation of it. But it really was a very strong penalty,” she said. “What happens next for them next week, it hasn’t been smooth sailing them.”
The Fever lost in the grand final in 2018 and again in 2020. If they go one better this year, a case could be made that they gained their grand final experience through a breach of the salary cap.
Ryan said the governing body was not surprised the Fever had rebounded to overcome the points penalty, believing it probably spurred the team on for the 2021 season.