Professional franchises to replace association-run teams in women’s league

The National Basketball League has confirmed a move to a franchise model for its women’s league.

Five professional franchises will replace the existing six association-run teams in the top tier of the league, as was reported by the Otago Daily Times last month.

Expressions of interest are being accepted for potential owners of those franchises.

A salary system will govern the league, meaning the players will be the highest-paid women basketballers in domestic league history.

A 12-game home and away regular season will be played, followed by a final four.

The purpose is to lift the level of the league, attracting top talent to New Zealand.

"This league will catapult the women’s game in Aotearoa into uncharted territory," new NBL general manager Huw Beynon said.

‘‘It will provide a pathway for our athletes to reach the best leagues in the world, it will give them a professional league to play in at home and, most importantly, it will expose the next generation of basketball players and fans to our incredible kaiaka [skilled] wahine.

"To attract the best players, we have to pay them what they are worth. We’re excited to welcome our Tall Ferns home — as well as top imports — who will help lift the level of our competition."

Teams will be announced in February, while the league will tip-off in the middle of next year.

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