I started this article\blog and have re-written it a couple of times, I could probably write a book about it - I mean look at this, it's the different incarnations of the NZ National League since it was established in 1970.
YEAR Configuration Other
1970 8 team league
1971-76 10 team league Promotion \ Relegation - via Playoffs
1977-86 12 team league Promotion \ Relegation - 3 up 3 down
1987-92 14 team league No Promotion \ Relegation
1992-96 30 team Superclub 3 regional leagues of 10
then top teams in a national round and finals
1996-98 10 team league No Promotion \ Relegation, Finals, Summer League
1999 North & South Island league, winners play for title
2000-04 10 team league No Promotion \ Relegation, Finals, Summer League
2005-now 10 team Franchise No Promotion \ Relegation, Finals, Summer League
Now NZF have said its likely that the franchise league will be scraped in 2017 and probably replaced but by what we don't know yet, although a club based league looks on the cards.
The heyday of the league was the 1970's and early 80's when most clubs averaged crowds of over 1000, the standard of football was reasonable, most of NZ's internationals played in the league or had used it as a stepping stone to head overseas, some big name imports such as Trevor Brooking and John Fashanu graced the league with their presence.
Then what happened? Well a few things
- Tobacco sponsorship, that the funded the league and the NZFA had relied so much on was banned
- Sky TV arrived and started showing higher standard (mainly English) football on a regular basis
- The NZ TV companies decided that they would only pay for Rugby Union, Rugby League, Netball & Cricket all other sports had to pay to have their sport broadcast and at $30k per game it wasn't cheap
- Self interest within the NZ football community. eg 26 FA's each with their own bit of power not wanting to give it away, the Northern League believing that they were as good if not better than the National League, clubs paying lots of money on players to win trophies rather than look at the bigger picture and long term development
- The presence of a professional NZ team in the Australian A-League
- NZF's obvious disdain for their own league – where else in the world would have a league with an a age group development, a reserve team and charge clubs $65k to participate?
Now I could go into detail and debate the above points in lots of detail, as I said I could probably write a book on the topic, and maybe one day I will but for now I'm just going to look back and profile the clubs that have played in the National League. Looking at where they came from, what they did in the National League and where they are now.
I have decided to concentrate on clubs, so I won't do anything on the franchises yet, at the end of the clubs series I will probably do the same for the franchise's.
Hope you enjoy it, and if you further info, photos, or spot any errors please let me know.