Federation changes stance on role of MOUs in decisions on competitions

Northern Region Football will no longer take into account agreements between clubs when setting competition rules, regulations and their decision-making processes.

In a statement, NRF says Memorandums Of Understanding (MOUs) will not be a factor in the way their competitions are governed.

The decision follows the April 2023 decision by the NZ Sports Tribunal, which ruled Central United could take its place in the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference, despite an earlier ruling by NRF that the club were ineligible to play in the competition because of their MOU and close ties with Auckland City.

READ MORE: Tribunal rules Central United can take its place in Lotto NRFL Northern Conference >>>>

NRF’s statement in full

The following statement was provided by NRF on February 29, 2024:

“Prompted by the 2023 NZ Sports Tribunal ruling, NRF is announcing that Memorandums Of Understanding between clubs will be removed from all our competition rules, regulations and decision-making processes.

“We believe the best way to achieve quality competitions and encourage understanding and transparency is to completely separate MOU’s from how NRF competitions are governed – solely on sporting merit, according to our competition regulations and policies.

“Historically, MOU’s between clubs serve several purposes, including sharing resources and expertise, but haven’t always been used consistently or correctly, particularly where disputes occur or intentions change over time affecting competitions.

“From now, any MOU’s lodged with NRF as part of a member club’s licensing application mustn’t mention competition entry or qualification, as last April’s NZ Sports Tribunal ruled that existing MOU’s aren’t enforceable by law, and are superseded by NRF competition regulations.

“NRF will no longer ‘approve’ MOU’s between clubs, but acknowledge those lodged as part of NZF’s Club Licensing application process. We’re happy to talk through potential licensing issues when applications are lodged, and offer general advice to help mitigate any risks and ensure positive outcomes.

“There are two ways we can provide advice for MOU’s:

  1. In terms of licensing when an application is lodged
  2. Providing general advice for partnership agreements (including MOU’s) between clubs to support mitigating risk and ensuring positive outcomes

“If a proposed MOU includes elements with a direct bearing on NRF or LOTTO NRFL competitions, clarity would be sought prior to proceeding with their club licensing application.

“Clubs, NRF and NZF share responsibility for ensuring MOU’s meet all required standards and competition entry criteria, and they’re abided by where they could affect NRF competition integrity.

“When a disagreement affecting our competitions occurs, NRF is responsible for monitoring the club’s obligations as they apply to National Licensing, Competition Rules and Regulations and the Club Formation Policy.

“We believe separating MOU’s and competitions will give clubs clarity, and that alongside our comprehensive review of 2024 LOTTO NRFL and NRF rules and regulations, these are significant steps to delivering quality competitions for our football community.”

More football stories