New Zealand Football Championship

New Zealand Football Championship
Countries  New Zealand
Confederation OFC (Oceania)
Founded 2004
Number of teams 8
Levels on pyramid 1
International cup(s) OFC Champions League
Current champions Waitakere United
Most championships Auckland City FC (4)
Current premiers Waitakere United
Most premiers Waitakere United (4)
TV partners Sky Sports (Playoffs only)
2011–12 ASB Premiership

The New Zealand Football Championship (known as the ASB Premiership from 2011 for sponsorship reasons) is the national association football league in New Zealand. It is a professional/semi-professional status Association football (soccer) sports Franchise league that is operated by New Zealand Football. The league is run separately from the New Zealand Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Premier and the other Winter Regional club competitions, and many of the teams competing are Franchises jointly run by Winter clubs. The Premiership does not include the Wellington Phoenix who play in the Australasian A-League. It is currently sponsored by ASB Bank.


Competition format

The league is an eight-team system, with each club playing everyone else twice. After the end of the regular season, the top four teams progress to the playoffs. The playoffs are run as a home-and-away semi-finals series, with the winners progressing to a one-match Grand Final.

The league competition phase was initially contested by a three-round, 21-match league system, each team playing every other team three times. This system was in place for the first four seasons of the competition. It was changed to the present two-round, 14-match system in 2008, due to financial difficulties affecting some of the teams in the league.

The playoff competition phase was initially run as a three-team playoff system, in which the Premier (winner of league phase) received a bye and hosting rights for the grand final, with second and third placed teams playing off in a one-game preliminary final. For the 2005-06 season, the NZFC experimented with a five team playoff (see NZFC 2005-06), however this was discontinued and the league reverted to the three-team playoff for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

The teams that win the league phase (the "premier") and the Grand Final (the "champion") qualify for the OFC Champions League. Should the same team win both the Premiership and the Championship, the second O-League spot will be granted to league runner-up. This had occurred during the 2007-08 season, where Waitakere United won both the league and the final. This resulted in Auckland City FC, league runner-up, to enter the O-League, despite Team Wellington contesting the grand final.

As there are no lower divisions in the Premiership, no promotion and relegation exists, similar to leagues in Australia and the in theUnited States.


Establishment in 2004-present

The New Zealand Football Championship was created as a replacement to the former New Zealand National Soccer League, a tournament involving clubs from the regional governing bodies of New Zealand Football. The NZFC would be run as a summer league involving new clubs created solely for the new competition, with these new clubs being run jointly by existing winter clubs. The only exception to this was Napier City Rovers, whose summer club would be rebranded Hawke's Bay United during the second season, to be operated jointly by other clubs in the Hawke's Bay region.

Location of clubs and the region they represent

Eleven groups bidded for franchises, with the successful bids being announced on 7 April 2004 as Auckland City FC, Canterbury United, Napier City Rovers, Otago United, Team Wellington, Waikato FC, Waitakere United and YoungHeart Manawatu, with Olé Madrids, East Auckland and Team Bay of Plenty being excluded. Unhappy at their exclusion, the Olé Madrids bid team took New Zealand Soccer to court, suing for damages and demanding inclusion in the competition, claiming that while they met NZ Soccer's criteria for inclusion, other bids who succeeded did not. The case was dropped by the Madrids team eight days before the commencement of the first NZFC season.[1] Western Suburbs, the club associated with the Olé Academy, is now a principal member of the Team Wellington franchise.[2] East Auckland also considered legal action, however this did not occur.[3]

The first match of the competition was on 15 October 2004, with Auckland City defeating Napier City Rovers 3-1 at Park Island, Napier. Auckland also won the final match of the inaugural season, defeating Waitekere United to become the first NZFC Champion. Auckland would go on to win the grand final again in the next two seasons, creating the competitions first dynasty.

The second season saw Napier City Rovers rebrand and re-organize their NZFC team as Hawke's Bay United, forming an amalgamated franchise with other local clubs. It also saw the first instance of a NZFC team winning the O-League, with Auckland City FC defeating French Polynesian team AS Pirae 3-1.

The third season saw two NZFC teams qualify for the O-League, with the eventual Grand Final runner-up Waitakere United qualifying in place of Vanuatu's Port Vila Sharks withdrawing. When Port Vila Sharks decided to withdraw, the NZFC was in their 3rd round when the OFC decided give their place to a second NZFC team. However the decision by NZF for Waitakere United to be rushed into the O-League was because they were the leading club (besides the already qualified Auckland City FC) in the NZFC after the 7th round of that season. The decision by the NZF was in a mist of controversy, as YoungHeart Manawatu was in contention to be the leading club.

However Auckland City FC that had won a game against Waitakere United with a player who was not allowed to play, after they refused to play for a nationally selected touring team citing injuries but yet had turned up to play in the NZFC. This was against NZF policy for NZFC teams, which states that a NZFC player which has cited injuries as a reason for not playing for a nationally selected team, cannot play for the NZFC team while the nationally selected team was playing at the same time. The policy was to prevent nationally selected NZFC players from using injuries as a deception to play elsewhere and not fulfill national duties. In this case, the deception was for the player to play in the highly competitive Auckland derby match. Hence there was a reverse of results that gave Waitakere United the three league points it needed to lead the NZFC and it reduced the three league points that Auckland City FC had while leading the NZFC. YoungHeart Manawatu who was in second-placed, behind Auckland City FC but ahead of Waitakere United, before the reversal of the result had then found themselves to be 3rd place afterwards. YoungHeart Manawatu had lodged a formal complaint with NZF which was then turned down. Waitakere United capitalized on this opportunity by winning that year's O-League competition.

With the first three seasons completed, the NZFC granted three-season license extensions to seven of the eight franchises - all but YoungHeart Manawatu, who had to re-apply on account of the NZFC's concerns towards the clubs financial and organizational situation. However YoungHeart managed successfully earn reinstatement after beating out four rival bids - one based in Gisborne, one from North Shore City, and two from Manukau. Olé Madrids also applied for the license, however they withdrew early.[4]

In 2007, the NZFC was represented at the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup, with Waitakere United qualifying as the Oceania Football Confederation champion. Waitakere's only match was a 1-3 loss to Iranian club Sepahan. After this match, FIFA chairman Sepp Blatter hinted that the OFC may lose qualification rights for the Club World Cup due to the gap in competition quality, stating that "professional teams" and giving the OFC a deadline of two years to raise their standards. A possible solution has been suggested in allowing the Wellington Phoenix, a New Zealand-based team playing in the Australian A-League (an Asian competition) to qualify for the O-League, which may cause the NZFC to lose one of its two qualifying spots.[5]

The 2007/08 season saw the end of the Auckland City FC dynasty, with Team Wellington eliminating them in the preliminary final. Waitakere United went on to win the Grand Final - in doing so, completing "the treble" - winning the Youth League, the Premiership and the Championship all in one season. A year later the 2008/09 season saw the championship return to Auckland City FC, after a season dominated by minor premiers Waitakere United. After the cross-town neightbours had taken care of both Team Wellington and YoungHeart Manawatu respectively in the semi-finals, the grand final was held at Douglas Field. Waitakere United – who hadn’t lost at home for almost two full seasons, looked on course for a second successive crown when Allan Pearce benefited from Roy Krishna’s good work to tap in a 15th minute opener. A piece of Keryn Jordan magic however and a late goalkeeping error from Waitakere’s Richard Gillespie would see the trophy head back to Kiwitea Street for a fourth time in five seasons.

On 12 April 2010 Canterbury United produced arguably the result of the 2009/10 NZFC season in a stunning 3-0 victory at Kiwitea Street. This result overturned a 2-1 semi-final first leg deficit and knocked defending champions Auckland City FC out of the competition 4-2 on aggregate. The form book was almost thrown out the window at Fred Taylor Park also as Team Wellington came within seconds of defeating Waitakere United in the other semi-final. A ninety-second minute goal from Brent Fisher eventually saw Waitakere United through on the away goals rule after a 3-3 draw on aggregate. The Grand Final however had a familiar outcome despite the Dragons taking an early lead through Tom Lancaster. Solomon Islands International Benjamin Totori levelled the scores then the balance of the match was tipped in Waitakere United’s favour following the sending off of Paul Dirou. This proved to be the case as the home side scored two unanswered second half goals through Allan Pearce and a second from Benjamin Totori to win the match 3-1. This result saw Neil Emblen's side win their second Championship in three seasons.

On 2 September 2010, New Zealand Football announced a five-year sponsorship agreement with ASB Bank. The agreement included the rebranding of the NZFC as the ASB Premiership.[6]

The league has been dominated by Auckland City and Waitakere United. The pair contest a local derby.

Current clubs

There are currently eight clubs from New Zealand playing in the New Zealand Football Championship. Unlike most European leagues, there is no system for promotion and relegation. This system is similar to leagues in Australia and the in the United States.

Champions and premiers

The teams that win the league phase (the "premier") and the Grand Final (the "champion") qualify for the OFC Champions League. Should the same team win both the Premiership and the Championship, the second O-League spot will be granted to league runner-up.

Season Regular season Grand final
Premiers Points Runners-up Champions Score Runners-up
Auckland City FC Aucklandcolours.png 46–40
Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United Auckland City FC Aucklandcolours.png 3-2
Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United
Auckland City FC Aucklandcolours.png 48-46
Yhmcolours.png YoungHeart Manawatu Auckland City FC Aucklandcolours.png 3-3 (a.e.t.)
4–3 (p.s.o)
Cantabcolours.png Canterbury United
Waitakere United Waitakcolours.png 47-45
Yhmcolours.png YoungHeart Manawatu Auckland City FC Aucklandcolours.png 3-2
Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United
Waitakere United Waitakcolours.png 51-50
Aucklandcolours.png Auckland City FC Waitakere United Waitakcolours.png 2–0
WellingtonPhoenixColours.png Team Wellington
Waitakere United Waitakcolours.png 33-25
Aucklandcolours.png Auckland City FC Auckland City FC Aucklandcolours.png 2-1
Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United
Auckland City FC Aucklandcolours.png 31-29
Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United Waitakere United Waitakcolours.png 3-1
Cantabcolours.png Canterbury United
Waitakere United Waitakcolours.png 36-30
Aucklandcolours.png Auckland City FC Waitakere United Waitakcolours.png 3-2
Aucklandcolours.png Auckland City FC

Premiership Winners

Titles Team Years
4 Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11
3 Aucklandcolours.png Auckland City FC 2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10

Championship Winners

Titles Team Years
4 Aucklandcolours.png Auckland City FC 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2008-09
3 Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United 2007-08, 2009-10, 2010-11


Golden Boot

The Golden Boot is presented to the player who scores the most goals during the season.

Year Player/s Club Goals
2007–08 New Zealand Graham Little WellingtonPhoenixColours.png Team Wellington 12
2008–09 Costa Rica Luis Corrales WellingtonPhoenixColours.png Team Wellington 12
2009-10 Vanuatu Seule Soromon Yhmcolours.png YoungHeart Manawatu 9
2010–11 New Zealand Allan Pearce Waitakcolours.png Waitakere United 13

New Zealand Football Championship records

All-time NZFC regular season records by club

Updated to the end of the 2009/10 season[7]

1 Auckland City FC 6 112 75 18 19 270 126 +144 242* 3 2 1 -
2 Waitakere United 6 112 67 19 26 236 131 +105 222* 3 2 - -
3 Team Wellington 6 112 49 22 41 216 200 +16 169 - - 2 2
4 YoungHeart Manawatu 6 112 48 21 43 207 195 +12 165 - 2 1 -
5 Canterbury United 6 112 39 20 53 156 186 -30 137 - - 1 3
6 Waikato FC 6 112 32 20 60 139 203 -64 116 - - 1 -
7 Hawke's Bay United 6 112 31 20 61 156 237 -81 113 - - - 1
8 Otago United 6 112 24 26 62 117 219 -102 98 - - - -
* Waitakere were awarded a goalless win against Auckland in 2006/07
† Includes record as Napier City Rovers

All-time NZFC playoff records by club

Updated to, and including, the 2009/10 playoff semi-finals.

1 Auckland City FC 6/6 11 7 1 3 26 20 +6 22 4 - 1
2 Waitakere United 5/6 9 5 0 4 21 13 +8 15 2 3 -
3 Team Wellington 4/6 9 3 1 5 14 21 -7 10 - 1 2*
4 Canterbury United 2/6 6 2 2 2 9 9 0 8 - 2 -
5 YoungHeart Manawatu 3/6 4 1 1 3 6 10 -4 4 - - 2*
6 Otago United 1/6 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 1 - - -
7 Waikato FC 1/6 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0 - - 1
- Hawke's Bay United 0/6 - - - - - - - - - - -
* Y.H. Manawatu finished 3rd in the 2008/09 playoffs with a better record than the other semi-finalist, Team Wellington. Team Wellington finished 3rd in the 2009/10 playoffs with a better record than the other semi-finalist, Auckland City.
† Includes record as Napier City Rovers

ASB Phoenix Challenge

The 2010-11 season will see the introduction of the ASB Challenge Series. This is an individual friendly competition in which the eight Premiership teams compete against a reserve team attached to Wellington Phoenix FC, New Zealand's representative in the Australian A-League.

ASB National Youth League

Season Winner Score Runner-up
2008/09 Auckland City ? Waitakere United
2009/10 Canterbury United 6 - 0 Waitakere United
2010/11 Waitakere United 0 - 2 Canterbury United

New Zealand Football also runs the Under-20 ASB National Youth League. The format for the 2010-11 season has yet to be announced. The league was most recently contested by eight academy teams affiliated with the NZFC franchises in addition to a Papakura-based franchise Auckland-Manukau FC. The nine teams were split into two regions, with each team playing its regional opponent twice. At the conclusion of the youth league regular season, the top ranked Northern team hosted the second ranked Southern team, and the top ranked Southern team hosted the second ranked Northern team for the semi finals. The winners of these matches will face each other in the grand final. The current Youth League champion is Waitakere United, having defeated Canterbury United 2-0 at Linfield Park, Christchurch [17]


See also


  1. ^ "BLACK YEAR FOR NEW ZEALAND AFTER ALL WHITES LOSS. | Asia Africa Intelligence Wire (December , 2004)". 29 December 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  2. ^ "Team Wellington :: Home - National Service". 14 February 2005. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  3. ^ Published: 4:30PM Tuesday 6 April 2004 (6 April 2004). "New soccer franchises revealed | FOOTBALL | SPORT". Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Soccer: Fifa gives Oceania two years to improve - 16 Dec 2007 - Soccer news". NZ Herald. 16 December 2007. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  6. ^[tt_news]=701&tx_ttnews[backPid]=10&cHash=55004bef0a
  7. ^ www.Aragon.Ws/SoccerDB: NZFC Eternal Table
  8. ^ Seasons played
  9. ^ Regular season champions
  10. ^ Regular season runners-up
  11. ^ Regular season third
  12. ^ Regular season fourth
  13. ^ Playoffs reached/seasons played
  14. ^ Playoff champions
  15. ^ Playoff runners-up
  16. ^ Playoff third
  17. ^[tt_news]=1023&tx_ttnews[backPid]=4&cHash=ff8d8935fc

External links

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