Restrictions to combat COVID-19 have forced the cancellation of the 2021 men’s and women’s National League Championships.
New Zealand Football’s decision to can the competitions follows confirmation that Auckland and the Waikato will not be moving to alert levels where it is possible for teams to play matches.
The constraints have also forced the rolling over of the 2021 Chatham Cup semi-final and final stages till February 2022 due to uncertainty facing North Shore United’s ability to return to training and play.
Instead of the National League Championships, the national body will hold a one-off interregional competition called the National League: South Central Series.
In its November 2 statement announcing its decisions, NZ Football said:
“With four teams in each of the National League Championships unable to play, New Zealand Football took the decision to cancel the Championship phase and not crown national champions, so as to uphold the integrity of the women’s and men’s competitions.
“The National League: South Central Series will feature the six regional qualifiers in the men’s (Cashmere Technical, Miramar Rangers, Selwyn United, Wellington Olympic, Wellington Phoenix Reserves and Western Suburbs) and four federation sides in the women’s (Canterbury United Pride, Capital Football, Central Football and Southern United).”
The South Central Series kicks off over the weekend of November 6-7 and runs till December 12.
All games are available via Sky Sport with over 90% free to air on the Sky Sport Next YouTube channel.
Highlights of the opening round include 2020 women’s champions Canterbury United Pride hosting South Island rivals Southern United, and Central League 2021 winners Wellington Olympic travelling to Wellington Phoenix Reserves.