The Netball Super League is the top level netball league featuring teams from the United Kingdom. The league is organised by England Netball and while the majority of teams are based in England, it also features teams from Wales and Scotland. The league was first played during the 2005/2006 season. It replaced the Fisher Paykel Super Cup as the top level netball competition in England. Sponsors have included Figleaves (2005/2006), The Co-operative Group (2007/2010), Fiat Group Automobiles (2011/2012) and ZEO (2014). Since 2016 the league has been sponsored by Vitality Health and, as a result, it is a known as the Vitality Netball Super League and games and grand finals have been broadcast live on Sky Sports.
The creation of the Netball Super League followed a review in 1996/1997 of the national Competitive Structure which was published in 1997. The review was conducted by Pauline Harrison (CEO), Waimarama Taumaunu (England Performance Director) and Cheryl Dewhirst (Match & Tournament) who consulted with all the England coaches past and present, all the County Coaches, the Coaches of the teams that were in the National Clubs League, some of the Senior England players, the then Umpiring Group and various individuals who were involved in player performance.
The recommendations of this document were that England Netball would be best served if there was a competition where our top players could play against each other on a frequent basis, without the constraints of their membership or where they resided. The participating teams would not be from existing clubs but constructed from a performance point of view.
A couple of conferences were held late 1997 and early 1998 with a number of the contributors to the report present. At these the fixture calendar was reviewed, as well as the value of the current competitions towards performance. From this various suggestions were put forward – a stronger emphasis nationally on U14s, U16s and U19s plus a possible removal of all competition that was not performance driven.
At the 1998 Inter Counties Tournament Pauline and Cheryl had a subsequent meeting to agree who would take the ideas forward. It was agreed that the Match & Tournament Committee would continue in its present format charged with continuing to oversee the existing competitions, and that the group would reduce in membership as the current competitions were phased out. The first competition to go was the Regional Tournament, 1999 being the last one. The formation of new competitions would be a different group of people drawn from performance coaches from around the country. The formation of a Super League would require major financial input from outside the organisation and was delegated to the leadership of Wai and Pauline.
In 2000 funding was secured from Fisher and Paykel which enabled the start of the new competition in May 2001. It would be called the Fisher and Paykel Super Cup.
May/June 2001 the Fisher and Paykel Super Cup took place played over 6 weekends at a central venue with all six teams playing each other, with placing playoffs on the last week. It continued in this format for 4 years - refer to the Fisher Paykel post for more information.
The birth of the Netball Super League in 2005/2006 came out of the success of the Super Cup and it spelled the end of the English Counties League, as it used the same dates and players, and also the much loved Inter County Tournament. The first Board consisted of Nigel Holl (Performance Director), Lindsay Sartori, Janet Wrighton, Fran Connolly (West Midlands Regional Manager) and Cheryl Danson (Games Committee).