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Covid signage at the Vitality Netball Superleague.

Covid signage during the Vitality Super League build up Studio 001, Wakefield, England on 12th January 2021.

The Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) Finals Weekend is just days away.    

On Saturday June 26 we will see the top four sides in the VNSL take to the court to play in the Semi-Final stage of the season, all competing for a place in Sunday’s coveted Grand Final when one team will be crowned 2021 champions at the Copper Box Arena, London, and take their place in netball history.     

Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic there are strict protocols in place in the lead up to and in venue across the weekend to help keep players, officials, staff and fans safe, with VNSL regulations in place for all possible scenarios to enable the VNSL to be completed.  

Here are the answers to some of the biggest questions leading into the semi-finals:   

What COVID-19 restrictions will be in place for players?   

There are clear Government guidelines and regulations in place for elite sport and spectators in venue and as such all COVID-19 protocols will continue to be in place as per the regular season.  This means face masks, social distancing, ball sanitisation and all other measures will remain throughout Finals Weekend.    

The extensive VNSL testing programme, seen in action across the regular season to help keep players, officials and staff safe, will continue to be in operation too.    

Testing in the week leading up to Finals Weekend will see a round of lateral flow testing on Wednesday 23 June across the whole league followed by an additional and final round of lateral flow testing on Friday 25 June for the top four teams participating in the Semi-Final fixtures the following day.   

The VNSL medical team will be on hand to help support all clubs and individuals during this process and rapid PCR tests are on standby for any team reporting a positive lateral flow test to confirm the result.   

What will happen if a test is positive?   

Government guidance states that when individuals are confirmed as ‘close contacts’ of a positive COVID-19 case they must isolate for 10 days.  As VNSL teams train and play indoors, a positive case will deem the entire squad ‘close contacts’.  If the squad have trained together in the 48 hours prior to the confirmation of a positive test result, the entire squad must isolate for 10 days.    

As a result, a positive PCR test result for one of our top four teams this week, who have trained together in the 48 hours prior, would mean that they would not be able to take part in Finals Weekend. 

The health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans is our only priority, and we have consulted Public Health England throughout the season on all COVID-19 protocols we have in place.  

What happens if a team is ruled out?   

If a team is not able to play due to a positive COVID-19 result the next placed team in the VNSL 2021 season will be eligible and invited to participate in the Semi-Finals. With the regular season now completed and final table placings confirmed, fifth-placed Saracens Mavericks would be first in line to be invited to play.  If that team couldn’t fulfil the fixture, the place would be offered to the next placed team and so forth.

The Semi-Final fixtures would still be played on Saturday, but the participating clubs would change, with the highest placed team still playing the lowest positioned team in the first semi-final and the second and third placed teams playing in the second Semi-Final scheduled for that day. 

What if teams are tied at full-time?   

Although draws were permitted during the regular season, all matches must be played to a result at Finals Weekend. If scores are level after four quarters, extra-time will be played.   

Extra-time will consist of a four-minute break after the full-time whistle followed by two halves of seven minutes with a one-minute half-time between each half. If scores are still level after this period, play will continue until a team secures a clear two-goal lead.   

If my team doesn’t play, can I get a refund on my ticket?   

As outlined in England Netball’s Spectator Code of Conduct here, tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable due to the uncertainty around COVID-19.  

What protocols will fans have to follow at the Copper Box?   

As always, fans will have to follow England Netball’s Spectator Code of Conduct outlined here. Ticket holders will be required to wear a face covering at all times whilst at the venue, seats are socially distanced and capped at a maximum of 6 in groups as per Government guidelines, and fans must refrain from cheering and shouting. 

Make sure you’re following @NetballSL on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news and previews ahead of the Grand Final weekend.  

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