New Zealand National League
Founded2021; 3 years ago (2021)
CountryNew Zealand
ConfederationOFC
Number of teams10
Level on pyramid1
Domestic cup(s)Chatham Cup
Charity Cup
International cup(s)OFC Champions League
Current championsWellington Olympic (1st title)
(2023)
Most championshipsAuckland City
Wellington Olympic
(1 title each)
Top goalscorerGianni Bouzouzkis
Garbhan Coughlan (20)
TV partnersFIFA+
Websitenzfootball.co.nz/nzfnl
Current: 2024 National League

The New Zealand Men's National League is a men's football league at the top of the New Zealand football league system. Founded in 2021, the New Zealand National League is the successor to the New Zealand Football Championship. The league is contested by ten teams, with teams qualifying from their regional leagues. Four teams qualify from the Northern League, three qualify from the Central League, two qualify from the newly formed Southern League and the Wellington Phoenix Reserves are automatically given a spot each year.[1][2][3]

The regional leagues runs from March through to September, with each league having a varying number of games. The Championship phase runs after the completion of the regional phase with each team playing each other once, followed by a grand final. Each season, two clubs gain qualification to the OFC Champions League, the continental competition for the Oceania region.

The New Zealand National League was Oceania's strongest national league for four consecutive years in 2023 according to IFFHS.[4]

Competition format

Regional National League Zones

There are two stages to the competition: the regional phase, in which each team plays each other twice in their respective regions; and the championship phase, in which the top teams in each region play a single round-robin competition, followed by a grand final in order to determine the champion.[3] Each team can field a maximum of four foreign players as well as one additional foreign player who has Oceania Football Confederation nationality.[5] Originally each team had to also start at least two players aged 20 or under in every game.[6] Before the 2023 season this was changed so that players aged 20 or under must account for 10% of available playing minutes throughout the season.[7]

Qualification to OFC Champions League

Two teams from the National League qualify for the OFC Champions League each season: those two teams being the two finalists of the championship phase.[3]

History

In March 2021, New Zealand Football announced a change to the structure of both the premiership and the top regional leagues around the country. The four top regional leagues (NRFL Premier, Central Premier League, Mainland Premier League and the FootballSouth Premier League) would be formed into the Northern League, Central League, and the Southern League. These leagues would allow local clubs to qualify for the premiership season (now known as the National League Championship), with the top 4 teams from the Northern League, the top 3 teams from the Central League, and the top 2 teams from the Southern League making up the competition, alongside the Wellington Phoenix Reserve side. All teams that qualify plus the Phoenix Reserves, would then play a single round-robin competition between October and December. The top two placed teams will then progress to the Grand Final.[1]

In November 2021, during the first edition of the National League, New Zealand Football announced the National League had been cancelled for that season due to COVID-19.[8] Qualified teams from Auckland and Waikato were unable to participate due to their alert levels. New Zealand Football replaced this with a one-off competition, the South Central Series, for teams qualifying from the Central League and Southern League. Miramar Rangers were both the premiers and champions for this stand alone competition.[9]

The 2022 New Zealand National League Championship phase will kick off on 1 October 2022.[10]

Current clubs

Auckland Northern League football clubs
Location of clubs in Auckland Region for the 2022 National League season
New Zealand National League is located in Wellington Region
Location of clubs in Wellington Region for the 2022 National League season

These are the current clubs for the 2023 season:

Team Location Stadium Notes
Auckland City Sandringham, Auckland Kiwitea Street Northern League champion
Auckland United Mount Roskill, Auckland Keith Hay Park Northern League 3rd place
Cashmere Technical Woolston, Christchurch Nga Puna Wai Sports Hub[a] Southern League runner up
Christchurch United Spreydon, Christchurch Christchurch Football Centre Southern League champion
Eastern Suburbs Kohimarama, Auckland Madills Farm Northern League runner up
Manurewa Manurewa, Auckland Memorial Park Northern League 4th place
Napier City Rovers Napier Bluewater Stadium Central League 3rd place
Petone Petone, Lower Hutt Memorial Park Central League 4th place[b]
Wellington Olympic Wellington Wakefield Park[c] Central League champion
Wellington Phoenix Reserves Lower Hutt Fraser Park Automatic qualification
  1. ^ Playing one game at English Park.
  2. ^ Wellington Phoenix Reserves finished second but have automatic qualification National League Championship phase.
  3. ^ Playing four games at Martin Luckie Park.

Media coverage

Sky Sport had the broadcasting rights for the first two seasons (including the South Central Series). One game a week was live on television with the remaining four games free to air on either the Sky Sport Next or New Zealand Football YouTube channels.[11][12]

In September 2023, New Zealand signed a deal to have all National League games streamed for free on FIFA+ worldwide. This includes select games of the qualifying league games as well.[13][14] On 8 May 2024, New Zealand Football announced they had partnered with Sportway to continue broadcasting on FIFA+. 4K Sportway cameras have begun to be installed at grounds as of May 2024 with plans to broadcast over 200 games for the 2024 season.[15]

Past winners

Qualifying leagues

Season Northern League Central League Southern League
2021 Auckland City Wellington Olympic Cashmere Technical
2022 Auckland City Wellington Olympic Christchurch United
2023 Auckland City Wellington Olympic Christchurch United

Championship

Season Grand Final
Champions Score Runners-up
2021[a] Miramar Rangers 7–2 Wellington Olympic
2022 Auckland City 3–2 Wellington Olympic
2023 Wellington Olympic 2–0 Auckland City
  1. ^ 2021 National League season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic in Northern regions;.[8] Championship played as South Central Series, with the northern clubs missing in the first edition.

By region

Region Championships Clubs
Auckland 1 Auckland City (1)
Wellington 1 Wellington Olympic (1)

By city/town

City / Town Championships Clubs
Auckland Auckland 1 Auckland City (1)
Wellington Wellington 1 Wellington Olympic (1)

Top scorers

Season Top scorer(s) Club(s) Goals
2021 National League season cancelled
2022 New Zealand Gianni Bouzoukis
Republic of Ireland Garbhan Coughlan
Wellington Olympic
Cashmere Technical
9
2023 New Zealand Gianni Bouzoukis
Republic of Ireland Garbhan Coughlan
Wellington Olympic
Cashmere Technical
11

Records

The records are up to date as of the end of the 2023 season. As the 2021 season was cancelled, the 2021 South Central Series was not officially part of the National League.[8]

MVP winners

Season Winner(s) Club(s)
2022[16] Croatia Silvio Rodić Birkenhead United
2023[17] Republic of Ireland Garbhan Coughlan Cashmere Technical

Steve Sumner Trophy

Season Winner(s) Club(s)
2023[18] New Zealand Joel Stevens Wellington Olympic

Related competitions

OFC Champions League

Main article: OFC Champions League

The OFC Champions League, also known as the O-League, is the premier football competition in Oceania. It is organised by the OFC, Oceania's football governing body. It has been organised since 2007 under the current format, following its successor, the Oceania Club Championship. Two teams from the New Zealand National League participate annually. Four O-League titles have been won by teams from New Zealand.

Charity Cup

Main article: Charity Cup

The Charity Cup was introduced in 2011 and is contested between the winner of the National League Grand Final and the winner of the Chatham Cup.[19] Although it was planned to start in 2022 after the inaugural season of the National League, the Charity Cup only restarted in 2024.[20][21]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "New National League competition details confirmed". New Zealand Football. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  2. ^ "New National League competition". New Zealand Football. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "New National League system". New Zealand Football. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  4. ^ "IFFHS MEN'S STRONGEST NATIONAL LEAGUE IN THE WORLD - THE TOP 100". IFFHS. 21 January 2024. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Two National League clubs found to have breached foreign player regulations". New Zealand Football. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Youth leads the way in new National League". New Zealand Football. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  7. ^ "National League regulations for U-20 players revised". New Zealand Football. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "National League Championship cancelled, new interregional competition announced and Chatham Cup moved to 2022". New Zealand Football.
  9. ^ "Goal-filled final weekend in the South Central Series as Miramar Rangers (men) and Southern United (women) crowned winners". NZFootball.co.nz. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  10. ^ "National League Championship 2022 fixtures launched". New Zealand Football. 14 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Updated broadcast schedule released for National League Championship with 85 games free to air". New Zealand Football. 7 October 2022. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  12. ^ "Fixture List 2022". New Zealand Football. 7 October 2022. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  13. ^ "New Zealand Football signs long-term partnership with FIFA+ to make international friendlies and domestic competitions free to watch". New Zealand Football. 22 September 2023. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  14. ^ "How to watch New Zealand football live on FIFA+". FIFA. 16 October 2023. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  15. ^ "New Zealand Football partner with Sportway to broadcast over 200 live domestic games in 2024". New Zealand Football. 8 May 2024. Retrieved 12 May 2024.
  16. ^ "Birkenhead 'keeper Silvio Rodic named MVP for Men's National League". friendsoffootballnz.com. 4 December 2022. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
  17. ^ "Announced at today's #NZNationalLeague Championship Grand Final were the winners of the men's and women's MVP and Golden Boot awards". New Zealand Football Twitter. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  18. ^ "Olympic's Joel Stevens wins Steve Sumner Trophy for Grand Final performance". New Zealand Football Instagram. 26 November 2023. Retrieved 27 November 2023.
  19. ^ "National League Regulations 2021". New Zealand Football. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  20. ^ "NZF Charity Cup returns to kick off the 2024 domestic football season". New Zealand Football. 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  21. ^ "Wellington Olympic to face Christchurch United in season-opening Charity Cup". friendsoffootballnz.com. 22 February 2024. Retrieved 23 February 2024.