Northern NSW Football has announced the end of its 2021 Premier Competitions.
With the NSW government continuing COVID-19 restrictions across the Hunter and no guaranteed safe return to football, NNSWF were left with no choice but to call full-time on all 2021 Premier Competitions.
This includes National Premier Leagues NNSW, Herald Women’s Premier League and HIT 106.9 Northern League One senior and youth competitions as well as Junior Development League (JDL) and Premier Youth Cup.
Northern NSW Football General Manager Football Operations Liam Bentley said the decision had been made in full consultation with, and agreement from, all Premier clubs and competition standing committees.
“We have been committed to trying to get back on the pitch and our team at NNSWF have put in a lot of time and effort in working on contingency plans,” Bentley said.
“But our planned scenarios and contingencies are no longer workable based on the new state government timelines around restrictions.
“I’d like to pass our genuine thanks to all of our clubs for their hard work in season 2021, especially after backing up from the extended 2020 season. It has been a tough couple of years to run a football club and we are extremely thankful to them for guiding their clubs through these extremely challenging times.”
Premier Competitions leagues will be finalised on a points per game basis given the large majority of matches were completed. As the season has concluded there will be no finals series for any Premier Competitions.
Premiers in all divisions will be awarded on this basis and will be acknowledged over the coming weeks. Medals and trophies will be distributed when it is safe and permissible to do so under the Public Health Order.
NPL Standing Committee Chair and Lambton Jaffas president Scott Douglas said clubs fully respected and supported the decision to end 2021 Premier Competitions seasons.
“The process from NNSWF has been excellent. They’ve given us every opportunity to get back on the park and clubs were fully supportive of that,” Douglas said.
“However the reality is that restrictions are likely to extend into October and November before you’re even contemplating getting back on the park. At the start of the lockdown in August clubs were optimistic but as each week has gone by it makes it more and more difficult to prepare for a return.
“To provide everyone an element of certainty in an uncertain environment it is the right choice, as disappointing as that may be. It allows clubs to start moving forward and plan for next season. And obviously there are bigger issues than football currently as well.”
Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland paid tribute to the football community following a difficult year but remained optimistic for a successful 2022 season.
“I want to thank the entire football community including players, coaches, volunteers and match officials for their contribution to the season as well as their understanding and resilience during this difficult time,” Eland said.
“It is a disappointing way to end any season but I can assure the football community we will be back bigger and better than ever in 2022. So until then stay safe and we’ll see you back on the pitch soon.”