AUCKLAND – All eight existing national league franchises will suit up for the sixth season of the New Zealand Football Championship but the entry of a Phoenix youth/reserve team will have to wait.
Canterbury United withdrew from the league on June 15 but subsequently renewed their commitment to the 2009-10 season, with New Zealand Football (NZF) accepting the Dragons’ re-entry at a board meeting on Thursday night.
As with the 2008-09 season, the 2009-10 NZFC will be contested over two full rounds beginning early November with the top four teams entering end of season playoffs consisting of two-legged semi finals and a one-off grand final.
NZF CEO Michael Glading was pleased that football’s national league would enter a sixth season relatively unchanged although admitted he had hoped to expand the league to nine teams with the introduction of a Phoenix ‘Lite’ team.
“In the current economic climate, the success of an amateur league shouldn’t be taken for granted so for the NZFC to have continuity is heartening.”
“We pushed hard to include a Phoenix team in the league but couldn’t get the buy-in of all eight franchises as is needed in our current licence agreements.
“The future of the league, its format and the arrangements we make with clubs will all be looked at as part of our competitions review.
“We remain committed to the principle of including a Phoenix youth or reserve team in a national competition in the best interests of football in New Zealand.”
The 2009-10 season is the last year of the franchisees’ current three-year agreements.
Auckland City won the 2008-09 NZFC Grand Final toppling Waitakere United 2-1 at Trusts Stadium.
Story and photo courtesy of NZF Media
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