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Joanna Adams | Chief executive, England Netball

Joanna Adams was among the 10 executives whose work in 2018 we believe indicates the direction of the sports business in 2019 and beyond.

Joanna Adams appears in our list for the second consecutive time having overseen another wildly successful year, both on and off the court, for England Netball.

The national governing body for the largest female participation sport in England announced a three-year renewal to its title partnership with health and life insurance provider Vitality, believed to be one of the largest deals in women’s sport in the UK. Just one month later, it agreed a multi-year partnership with Nike to design and supply on and off-court apparel for its elite women’s teams at international competitions.

Both deals were undoubtedly given a helping hand by the performance of the England [ladies] team – the Vitality Roses – in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. The team broke up Australia and New Zealand’s duopoly over the sport to win gold in a match watched by an estimated 1.8 million people on the BBC.

A survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of England Netball in October revealed that 130,700 adult women started playing the sport as a result of the Commonwealth Games gold medal performance. This built on the already impressive numbers generated by the governing body’s ‘Back to Netball’ campaign, which helps people to return to the sport.

In November it achieved another milestone as the 100,000th person signed up for the programme since its inception 10 years ago.

Adams argues that the Vitality deal, which she says was agreed ahead of the Commonwealth Games, will be essential in continuing to bridge the gap between the English game and its Australian counterparts. Players can currently earn far more playing professional netball in Australia than they can in the UK’s elite-level Superleague.

The 2019 Netball World Cup also ought to help England Netball’s commercial prospects and drive participation in the sport. With serendipitous timing, the global event will take place in Liverpool in July this year.

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Our other nine trailblazing executives are:

Adam Silver | Commissioner, NBA

Alfredo Bermejo | Digital strategy director, LaLiga

Barney Francis | Managing director, Sky Sports

Darren Eales | President, Atlanta United

David Szlezak | Managing director, EHF Marketing

Kerry Bubolz | President, Vegas Golden Knights

Laura Froelich | Senior director, head of US content partnerships, Twitter

Sean Jefferson | Director of partnerships, Man United

Simon Denyer | Chief executive, DAZN Group

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