The 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) player signing window is officially open and is set to be more competitive than ever before.
The VNSL, which is the UK’s top level netball league featuring teams from England, Wales and Scotland, will return in February 2021 with clubs more determined to make their mark after the cancellation of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.
All 10 teams from last season, plus new comers Leeds Rhinos Netball, will have until 5pm on 30 October to lock in their teams for the 2021 season where they will battle to be named VNSL champions. Teams are permitted to sign 10 registered players and five training partners in this window.
Last year, several Vitality Roses and Roses Futures signed for new clubs during the window. Commonwealth Games winner Jodie Gibson moved to Saracens Mavericks, Halimat Adio join London Pulse, and Iona Christian left Severn Stars for Wasps.
Next season is expected to begin with a Season Opener event, which will see all the new looking clubs compete under one roof for the first time in 2021. Prior to lockdown, the 2020 Season Opener enjoyed record crowds in Birmingham and some exciting clashes on court, with the day drawing to an end with 2019 champions Manchester Thunder facing off against Wasps Netball.
The 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague signing window is now officially open ✍ pic.twitter.com/8QRsOMucQm
— Vitality Netball Superleague (@NetballSL) August 19, 2020
Ian Holloway, Vitality Netball Superleague and Competitions Director at England Netball, said: “Despite the disappointment we all faced when the 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic, we’re now really excited to see what the 2021 season has in store for us. The signing window will be a fantastic opportunity for fans to get a glimpse of what they can expect, and with competition getting fiercer each year, we’re itching to see how each clubs squads will look before the VNSL returns.
“In July 2019 we saw Manchester Thunder claim the title in the Grand Final and after a missed opportunity to reclaim glory this year due to the pandemic, I’m sure they’ll be looking to put together another strong squad ready for 2021.
“Not only will the public get to see some fan favourites on court again next year, but we’ll also have a new team in Leeds Rhinos Netball to get behind and we’re looking forward to seeing what they bring to the table. There’s so much to look forward to and the signing window is just the start.”
“With competition getting fiercer each year, we’re itching to see who each club manages to clinch before the VNSL returns.”
Following the cancellation of the 2020 season, England Netball, who oversee the VNSL, were considering the option of introducing a one-off short form autumn competition in the hope of airing some form of VNSL competition for fans. However, after careful consideration and having liaised with all VNSL clubs and stakeholders, the option has been taken off the table.
Ian Holloway added: “We were really excited about the prospect of an autumn event to give the VNSL more exposure following the season’s cancellation, however after much thought and deliberation with clubs and stakeholders, we came to realise that this option would not be feasible in the current climate, due to the preparation time needed to get players back safely on court, however we are hoping to still get some form of netball on people’s screens before the end of the year.”
VNSL clubs are currently able to return to training as part of the Government’s elite sport return to training roadmap if they’re able to. However, given that this is the close season period, with clubs now looking to contract players for the 2021 season, additional time is being given to ensure appropriate risk mitigation measures are in place to enable an appropriate return to training.
The Vitality Roses; England’s elite netball team, have also been given the green light by Government to return to netball training in a phased approach and are currently back in camp. England Netball is currently exploring the possibility of an international competition for the Vitality Roses later this year.
To keep up to date on all the VNSL signings and news be sure to follow @NetballSL on Twitter and Instagram. You can also see a comprehensive overview of 2021 squads on the Superleague’s Transfers page throughout the signing window.