England Netball has expanded its domestic Superleague competition to 10 clubs with the launch of three new teams, including one backed by Premiership rugby union club Wasps.
The expansion process will take effect from the 2017 season, with Scottish Sirens, Severn Stars and Wasps joined by reigning Superleague champions Surrey Storm and six other sides from the 2016 campaign.
Wasps are now based in Coventry, while the Scottish Sirens will be located in Glasgow. The Severn Stars are being operated by the University of Gloucester and Worcester University. The expansion process has not resulted in a place being offered to the Yorkshire Jets, which finished bottom of the table last season, winning only one of their 14 games.
England Netball chief executive Joanna Adams said: “The Superleague has continued to grow in popularity since its launch in 2005 and with record attendances and ticket sales last year, we were keen to make a bold move in growing the number of teams and the aspirations of all involved. We feel this line-up really achieves this.
“In a ground breaking move for England Netball and English sport, we are delighted to welcome the iconic sporting brand Wasps in to the league. We are sure they will be as keen to be competitive in their first season, as they always have been in rugby and we are sure that the other teams will relish the challenge.
“It is good news for the Severn region, as their team the Severn Stars will make their Superleague bow in 2017. Fans north of the border are able to celebrate having the best domestic action return to Glasgow from next season, with a newly formed team, the Scottish Sirens.”
England Netball said it will work with the Jets and other unsuccessful applicants to create a foundation that will allow them to join the league in a stronger position in the future, should expansion be possible. Involvement for all Superleague teams in 2017 is subject to agreement and finalising contracts in the coming months.