Capital Football has announced the new look for the premier league first division for the 2019 season, with the top-flight men’s competitions to be separated into the NPL1 and NPL2 competitions, with promotion and relegation to be in full swing by the 2021 season.
Last season’s Capital League has been rebranded as NPL2 and will be a seven-team competition in 2019. The NPL1 will start next season with nine teams and at the end of the season, one team will be relegated to the NPL2, bringing the number of teams in the NPL1 and NPL2 to eight by 2020.
All nine premier league teams from last year will start next season in the top flight while seven of the 10 teams in last year’s Capital League will play in NPL2, with Narrabundah FC, Monaro Panthers and Canberra Olympic cut from the competition.
Capital Football chief Phil Brown said the promotion and relegation system would give all clubs in the leagues an opportunity to participate at the highest level.
“The introduction of promotion and relegation will allow aspiring clubs to pursue their ambitions of competing in top-flight football in the ACT,” he said. “It will only serve to increase the quality and competitiveness of our leagues in the years to come.”
ANU FC president Pat Holloway said the club was looking forward to being a part of the national premier leagues once more and that the new structure was the right way to go.
“We are really excited to be re-entering the premier league in the ACT,” Holloway said.
“ANU has been out of the premier league since the end of 2010 and have done very well in community leagues, so now there is an opportunity here to enter the national premier leagues structure where we feel we can be competitive, and it will be to the betterment of football in Canberra and will improve the quality.”
The prospect of promotion in the years ahead is also one that appeals to the club.
“We have players who are capable at that level and we want to see how successful we can be,” Holloway said “This year we took Canberra FC to extra time in the Federation Cup, and they went on to win it, so we know we can match it.
“And if the lure of NPL1 can be on the table through promotion then that will push us even harder.”
Behind the scenes, a debate has been raging over Capital Football’s plans to introduce a promotion and relegation system for the premier league first division, with the NPL clubs concerned about the lack of referees, coaches and infrastructure to cater for the increased number of games.