Seven of the clubs involved in the current eight-team competition will continue in the expanded league with Auckland City FC, Waitakere United, Hawke’s Bay United, Team Wellington, Wellington Phoenix, Canterbury United and Southern United all at the start line for next season.
Those seven will be joined by new additions Hamilton Wanderers (replacing WaiBOP United), Auckland-based Eastern Suburbs AFC and Tasman United with all clubs handed two-year licenses. All 10 entities will field teams in the ASB Premiership competition as well as the feeder ASB Youth League.
After receiving 14 initial expressions of interest, which resulted in eight full applications over and above the clubs involved in the current competition, New Zealand Football Community Director Cam Mitchell said making the final call for the 10 teams was difficult.
“What the process has shown is that there is great interest around the country in being involved in our flagship domestic competition,” Mitchell says.
“The applicants all made solid cases for inclusion with Eastern Suburbs and Tasman standing out above the rest at this point in time.”
To maintain the pathway in the Waikato region and having met the required criteria, Hamilton Wanderers have been passed the license held by WaiBOP United with the regional entity giving way to the NRFL Premier League club while Eastern Suburbs and Tasman United presented the strongest cases for the remaining two places after priority was given to the existing sides in the competition.
Assessed against stringent club licensing criteria for involvement, all applicants presented their case for inclusion relative to five areas of operation: facilities, administration and governance, football structure, on-field performance and finance.
After reviewing each application and conducting an interview process, an independent panel of four members of the football community made their recommendations with Mitchell saying the end result will be a stable competition providing a clear pathway to the international arena for New Zealand’s best domestic talent.
“In learning from the history of the various national league competitions New Zealand Football has operated, our key objective through this process was to identify the most progressive and sustainable entities,” he says.
“In making our decision, we feel we have achieved that goal with all three of the new clubs demonstrating they are capable of producing a top quality experience on and off the field of play, not only for the first season, but into the future as well.”
“Now that we have determined who will be at the start line for the expanded league, we’re looking forward to working with the clubs involved to deliver a competition which inspires and helps develop the next wave of All Whites.”
New Zealand Football will continue to work with those applicants who missed out on this occasion to ensure they continue to contribute to the development of footballing talent in this country.
ASB Premiership 2016-17
Auckland City FC
Canterbury United
Eastern Suburbs AFC
Hamilton Wanderers
Hawke’s Bay United
Southern United FC
Tasman United
Team Wellington
Waitakere United
Wellington Phoenix
Unsuccessful applicants
Auckland United
North Shore City
Onehunga Sports
Wairarapa United
Western Suburbs – Wellington
Independent review panel
Roger Wilkinson – Former National League coach
Dougal McGowan – Former NZF Executive Committee member, former National League player and involved in the previous National League selection process
Peter O’Leary – Former FIFA and National League referee
Kristy Hill – Former Football Fern, Women’s National League coach and PFA member
Story courtesy of New Zealand Football