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NZF’s Great Integration


It comes, it looms, it’s been clearly outlined in a National Competitions Briefing Document (that has been kindly passed onto us here at ITBOTN). Rend your garments and gather the children indoors, New Zealand Football is looking to change the football calendar entirely (maybe!) Repent, sinners! Repent!

After Rob Sherman’s review of competitions and the expansion of the Stirling Sports Premiership to ten teams, the next step was to present the options for the eventual transformation of the football calendar and create the one, integrated, unified season. Last month, clubs were sent the above mentioned briefing document as well as a survey to gauge support for the proposed changes. Enzo will cover the proposed changes to the National Women’s League, but let’s look at the options for the Mens game.

There are three options, but that’s really four because Option One has two parts.  The first of these, snappily titled Option One A, is the one that was deemed the preferred choice in the Sherman review.

Option One A (AKA The Fanciest Option)

The current ten team NZFC league extends to 3 rounds, with each team playing 27 games between November and July. The club finishing in last place would be relegated to their regional league. Their spot would be taken by a Regional Premier League club which has done the following during the March to August Regional Leagues in order to qualify;


Promoted teams would have a two month break at the end of the Regional season to prepare for the National season. National League players would not be able to transfer to Regional clubs as the season would continue beyond the June 30th registration deadline.

Relegation would work as follows,

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-9-42-18-amNZFC clubs would also be able to enter the Chatham Cup, in Round 2 of the competition which would run alongside the Oceania Champions League. The two teams from the NZFC competing in that competition would enter in Round 4.

Cost per club: $90,000 per year. Promoted clubs would receive financial assistance from NZF.

Option One B (AKA Someone’s been watching the MLS)


Two conferences of 6 teams, representing the Upper North Island and the Lower North/South Island. There will be crossover rounds between the two conferences in the summer and the top three of each would qualify for the play-offs and Grand Final. Teams would enter the Chatham Cup in Round 2 or the last 16, depending on OFC commitments.

Each conference has relegation and promotion is gained through play-offs from the respective regional leagues represented in the conference. Does that make sense? Yeah, me too.

Cost per club: $90,000 per year. Promoted clubs would receive financial assistance from NZF.

Option Two (AKA LEAVE IT!)

Screenshot 2016-09-04 at 14.39.41

Like I said, leave it. Current competition stays as is. No Chatham Cup entry for NZFC. No Pro/Rel from the regional leagues. As you were.

Cost per club: $60,000

Option Three (AKA The Nostalgia Trip)

Newmarket Park

Sod the summer. Get the clubs to rejoin their nearest regional league and at the end of the regular season the top three from the NRFL, the top two from Central and Mainland and the winners of Football South get to play in a National Finals mini-league.

The top four of that go to the home and away semi-finals. All clubs to enter the Chatham Cup. The regular season would be played between March and August, with the National Finals between September and October, because who wants football in the summer?

Cost per club: (of participating in the National Finals) $20,000

The proposed changes would see every club playing in the league structure have the chance to play in the National League. However, the requirement to be a B Licensed club as well as the financial strain may make it impossible for many, not to mention ground requirements for the highest level.

It is, I supposed, the equivalent to non-league system in the UK, where clubs must meet certain standards to play at a higher level – it can mean some clubs do not reach the heights as fast as their on pitch performances warrant, but can (over time) lead to improved infrastructure and facilities.

There’s also the issue of the regional playoff – if a NRFL Prem club wins it every year, eventually you’ll end up with the Northern National League. The conference model accommodates for the regional variations in quality, but it’s certainly something to ponder.

For those who operate summer franchises, a decision between the two entities would have to be made, as players could not be transferred between them. Central or City, Napier or HBU, TeeDubs or Miramar? Also, what the hell happens if the WeeNix get relegated!

There is a big strength here though, and that’s the one unified system. Clubs being able to get promoted and relegated from the top division, and qualify for continental competition as a result – that’s one of the great things about football. New Zealand clubs will be able to aim higher than ever before (qualification status dependent) and the closed-league will be no more (it’ll just have a strict door policy instead).

More importantly, from Enzo’s perspective, there’s 12 months a year of football to be had!


All clubs and federations have been asked to assess these options and provide feedback to NZF by December 9th.

What do you think? Comment below!


Categories: NZ Chatham Cup NZ Men's National League

John Palethorpe

7 replies

  1. A few of observations/questions:

    In option 1A:

    1. What if no one is promoted?

    In stating: “Should only on Club be eligible to participate the eligible Club shall gain entry to the Premiership and no playoff game(s) shall take place.” NZF acknowledge the possibility that not all of the four Premiership Leagues will necessarily produce either (a) a club that applies to be promoted or (b) a club that is approved to be eligible to be promoted.

    What if the total number of clubs eligible to be promoted is zero?

    Does the document say the team finishing at the bottom of the Premiership SHALL/WILL be demoted? Or does it say “…be demoted, if a club is selected for promotion…”?

    2. What happens if it is not possible to complete one or more of the Regional Premier Leagues “no later than the third week of August”?

    Seems odd language to lock in a timetable that could conceivably be disrupted. Given the history of controversy and challenges to regulations outlined in the National League Debates (Bruce Holloway) you’d think NZ Football would have learned about being more careful about using definitive language in proposals and regulations.

    3. Could you move the images for the Option One B, Option 2 and Option 3 below the headings for the relevant options? I found it really confusing when reading it that they were in the preceding option.

  2. Interesting stuff. What I found interesting is under 1A NZF are expressing a desire for the revamped league to have 6 out of 12 sides north of Taupo, while you can argue that’s justified (the whole 10 titles out of 11 seasons thing), I’m surprised they’ve gone for a Auckland and the rest conference model and haven’t followed the traditional 3 region model. I’d change to maybe 5 Northern, 4 Central and 3 Southern to start with.

    Other than that 1A is definitely my preferred model as well. Would have drastic implications for football down here (I gurantee you there would be very good players who’d rather play for Tech/Cavy etc in the FS league that play all year round for Southern), but that’s the reality and an integrated system would be the dream.

    If WeeNix get relegated, then so be it. I assume they just drop to Central League. As they should if they get relegated.

  3. The reason for the splits being the way they are, in the conference model, is that NFF, AFF and WaiBop have roughly 50% of the player base and the rest have the same.

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