A late change to the line-up of clubs has kept Oratia United in the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference, despite their relegation from last season’s second division.
Oratia have survived the drop to the Lotto NRFL League One because Central United have been unable to take their place in the Conference because of their formal partnership with Northern League club Auckland City.
Central had won promotion by taking the NRF Championship title last year, one point ahead of nearest rivals Papatoetoe.
In a statement explaining the change, Northern Region Football said:
“The delay in confirming the final line-ups is due to an appeal process regarding 2022 NRF Championship winners Central United and their promotion to the Lotto NRFL Championship this season, considering a club Memorandum of Understanding that was in place.
“This process is complete, and as per competition regulations, Central United will play in the NRF League One, while Oratia United will play in the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference this season. All other places are unchanged.
“NRF acknowledges the time it’s taken to reach this point and its effect on season planning for all teams, but committed to a thorough investigation, out of fairness to all clubs.
“Competition eligibility is paramount to delivering NRF’s Quality Competitions strategy — we’ve undertaken a review of all playing regulations in light of the issues raised here, and consider future scenarios of a similar nature.
“We’re looking forward to the first ball being kicked in the LOTTO NRFL on March 25.”
The Northern Conference fixtures for the season are now available here >>>>
The eight-club Northern Conference competition brings together two sides relegated from last year’s Lotto NRFL first division — Albany United and Waitemata — and six sides from the second division, including bottom-placed Oratia United.
Oratia will open their season at home to West Auckland, while the two teams relegated from the first division go head-to-head at Ngahue Reserve.
Games to be played on Saturday March 25, 2023
Albany United v Waitemata
Ngahue Reserve, 3pm
Oratia United v West Auckland
Crum Park, Auckland, 3pm
Franklin United v Beachlands Maraetai
Bledisloe Park, Pukekohe, 3pm
Bucklands Beach v Northland
Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, 3pm