Three clubs to contest play-off series to decide promotion to Southern League

posted in: News, Southern League

By Logan Smith

With the Southern League season finished, it has been confirmed that last-placed FC Twenty 11 have been relegated.

Now, a four-week quest to replace them begins for three clubs, with the grand prize of a place in the 2024 Southern League on the line.

Clubs will follow the same promotion mechanism used in 2022, except this time, the Nelson Men’s Premiership winner has chosen to contest promotion, unlike Rangers Blenheim who elected not to seek promotion last year.

Main photo: FC Nelson … seeking promotion to the Southern League. Photo credit: FC Nelson social media.

As a result, FC Nelson will first play UC Football over two legs, starting this weekend.

The winner will then play Roslyn-Wakari over two legs for promotion.

UC Football

UC Football, representing the University of Canterbury, perhaps arrive as favourites to take their place in the Southern League.

They commandingly won the Mainland Premier League by 13 points, losing only once in 21 games.

UC have been around the scene of high-level football in the South Island before as well, to an extent the other promotion hopefuls have not.

They enjoyed some seasons in the Mainland Premier League in the 2010s, prior to the top sides leaving for the Southern League in 2022, and also competed in this year’s Women’s South Island League.

FC Nelson

FC Nelson will hope to pull off two serious upsets to become the second Nelson team in the Southern League, joining regulars Nelson Suburbs.

A draw in the final round against Rangers Blenheim was enough to seal the Nelson Men’s Premiership title and round off an unbeaten league season. The club has opted to contest the Southern League play-offs.

The play-offs will be a major test for FC Nelson, with their opponents coming from more recognised leagues with deeper pools of talent.

Hopefully, they will provide a better challenge than when they contested promotion to the Mainland Premier League in 2019, going down 9-2 over two legs to Christchurch United that time.


Though they came second in the Men’s Southern Premiership, Dunedin club Roslyn-Wakari will again contest the Southern League play-off, with league champions Mosgiel choosing not to contest promotion.

Despite their second-place finish, Roslyn-Wakari lost only one league game all season.

They will hope to finally seal their place in the Southern League, having finished just below the Southern Premiership qualification places in 2021 and losing the promotion play-off against FC Twenty 11 last year.

Roslyn-Wakari also have knockout experience from a strong 2023 Chatham Cup campaign, where they won four ties and reached the quarter-finals.


Game to be played on Saturday September 9, 2023

FC Nelson v UC Football
Guppy Park, Nelson, 2pm

Game to be played on Saturday September 16, 2023

UC Football v FC Nelson
English Park, Christchurch, 11am

Game to be played on Saturday September 23, 2023

Roslyn-Wakari v FC Nelson or UC Football
Fixture details TBD

Game to be played on Saturday September 30, 2023

Roslyn-Wakari v FC Nelson or UC Football
Fixture details TBD

Logan Smith

Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.

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