Hancock Prospecting announced it was “reluctantly” withdrawing support for netball; the lucrative deal was to run until 2025; Hancock Prospecting founder Lang Hancock’s previous comments about Indigenous Australians were a cause for concern for Diamonds players
Last update: 10/22/22 1:52 p.m.
Hancock Prospecting has announced it is withdrawing its support for Netball Australia less than a month after becoming a High Performance Partner amid controversy.
The company issued a “regretful” statement announcing the decision on Saturday, after Australian Diamonds players recently raised concerns about the sponsorship.
The sponsorship, which was signed last month, was due to run until 2025 and would have included an agreement that the Hancock brand would feature on players’ uniforms throughout international matches.
Diamond players, including Indigenous netballer Donnell Wallam, had raised concerns about the partnership, over comments by executive chairman Gina Rinehart’s father and Hancock Prospecting founder Lang Hancock about Indigenous Australians.
The withdrawal of the reported $15million deal – declared by Netball Australia to be “a major investment in our sport” – is a blow to the organisation, which suffered a loss of $4.4million over the of the 2021 financial year.
“Hancock and Roy Hill do not wish to add to netball’s disunity issues, and accordingly Hancock has informed Netball Australia that it has immediately withdrawn from its proposed partnership,” the statement read.
Wallam, who is expected to become the first Indigenous player to represent the Diamonds in more than 20 years later this month, was reportedly hesitant to wear the sponsor’s new logo.
She also reportedly considered asking for an exemption, as other athletes have done when a sponsor doesn’t match their beliefs or religion, but the issue has drawn national attention.
Netball Australia and national team captain Liz Watson had expressed their support for Hancock Prospecting as the deal secured the future of the sporting organization, which has suffered heavy losses over two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.
“As players, we know Hancock is a great investment for our program,” Watson said earlier this week.
But Watson also said the team wanted to show their support for his teammate.
“We support her cultural sensitivities around the program, around the partnership, and we want her to be herself and feel comfortable and strong,” Watson said.
Hancock has offered to provide four months of sponsorship to help Netball Australia and Netball WA find alternative partners, should they wish to accept.
“Hancock appreciates the warm welcome and support of Netball Australia, and because of this, Hancock and Roy Hill have informed Netball Australia and Netball WA respectively, that they will instead provide a four month sponsorship if they and their players accept it,” the statement said.
“To continue to fund athletes and help netball organize alternative funding and sponsorship.”
Netball Australia described the announcement of the withdrawal of support from Hancock Prospecting as “a disappointing outcome for the sport”, but said the organization understood the decision.
“We are grateful that Hancock Prospecting has continued to support our sport through the recent turmoil and regret the impact this has had on the business,” Netball Australia Chairman Wendy Archer said.
“This has been a difficult time for all parties involved and while all parties have made every effort to resolve issues relating to partnership sensitivities, unfortunately we have not been able to achieve a mutually satisfactory outcome. “