NNSWF ring in changes to elite leagues

THORNTON Redbacks and Football Mid North Coast will return to Herald Women’s Premier League first grade, while more night games and two “catch-up” weekends will be part ofthe men’s NPL competition in changes announced for 2019 on Friday.

GOOD NIGHT: Broadmeadow celebrate their NPL grand final victory over Edgeworth this year. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

FMNC withdrew from the top WPL grade on the eve of this season and Thornton did likewise in Junebecause ofplayer shortages.

Both clubs continued in the underpinning age divisions but will return in all four grades –firsts,14, 17and 20 years –next year.

Northern NSW Football announced the draws for the NPL, WPL and men’s second division, Northern League One, which will all starton the weekend of March 7-10.

The Northern NPL will feature more night games in 2019, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays, in an attempt tovary time slots across all three leagues and give supportersand online viewers the chance to watch more matches live.

NNSWFpremier competitions senior officerLiam Bentley said “clubs were granted an increased amount of control and ownership of when their teams played in the draw”.

“We worked closely with clubs in formulating our competition draws, which allowed plenty opportunity for feedback, resulting in a large majority of requests being able to be accommodated,” Bentley said in a press release.

Four-time premiership-winning Edgeworthcoach Damian Zane believedplaying games at different times was a winner.

“It’s a good move,” Zane said.“I’ve always said they should stagger times more.”

The opening NPL round will be played over four days.Charlestown start the campaign againstNewcastle Jets on Thursday night with first grade at 7.45pm.Weston host Hamilton on the Friday night, Valentine travel to Adamstown and Lambton Jaffas welcome Lake Macquarie on the Saturday with 5.30pm kick-offs, while Broadmeadow host Edgeworth in the grand final rematch from 2.30pm on the Sunday.

The NPL will also have the weekends of May 4-5 and August 10-11 set aside to play catch-ups games, which shouldlessen the washed out clashes held midweek.

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