National League Championships canceled; Single South Central series planned

Canterbury United Pride will not have the chance to win a fourth straight domestic title, but may play a series of one-offs over the next six weeks.

Kai Schwoerer / Getty Images

Canterbury United Pride will not have the chance to win a fourth straight domestic title, but may play a series of one-offs over the next six weeks.

New Zealand football has officially canceled the National Men’s and Women’s League championships.

The writing had been on the wall for both competitions for some time, given the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland.

The governing body had set a deadline of November 3 for the Auckland teams to train and play and this was not respected. The Hamilton Wanderers, who had qualified for the women’s competition, are also restricted for the time being.


Football players Ferns were buzzing after waking up early last June to watch the announcement of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023. (First published June 2020)

Teams based outside of Auckland and Hamilton can train and play and will compete in a unique South Central series over the next six weekends.

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Six men’s teams – Miramar Rangers, Wellington Olympic, Western Suburbs and the capital’s Wellington Phoenix reserves, and Canterbury’s Cashmere Technical and Selwyn United – and four women’s teams – those representing the Central, Capital, Mainland and South football federations – participate in.

Men’s teams will face each other once, with a grand final between the first two scheduled for the weekend of December 11.

Women’s teams will compete twice, the winner after the double round robin being crowned champion.

Both competitions will be broadcast by Sky Sport.

NZ Football has confirmed that the Men’s South Central Series will have no bearing on qualifying for the OFC Champions League next year. This issue is under discussion with the regional governing body.

The final stages of the Kate Sheppard Cup women’s knockout competition had previously been postponed to February 2022 and on Tuesday NZ Football confirmed that the same will be true for the Chatham Cup men’s competition.

Four teams – Coastal Spirit, Eastern Suburbs, Hamilton Wanderers and Wellington United – remain alive in the Kate Sheppard Cup semi-finals, while Cashmere Technical have already booked their spot in the Chatham Cup final. Miramar Rangers and Auckland club North Shore United are set to meet in the other Chatham Cup semi-final.

Auckland City, Auckland United, Birkenhead United and Eastern Suburbs were the four Auckland teams that had qualified for the 10-team National Men’s League Championship.

Eastern Suburbs, Northern Rovers and Western Springs had qualified for the National Women’s League eight-team championship, as did the Wanderers.

NZ Football decided last month that it would not host any events if certain qualifying teams were unable to participate due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Governing body chief football director Daniel Farrow said he was happy to be able to offer teams outside of Auckland and Hamilton the opportunity to play. =

“We worked with our clubs and federations during the lockdown to try to find a solution and left it as long as possible to see if we could play the National League championship.

“For the teams outside of Auckland and Waikato, I want to thank you for your patience throughout this process. I am delighted that we can now launch this new competition and look forward to finally seeing the players again on field.

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