The return of National Premier League football in New South Wales has become a little clearer, with Football NSW announcing that a revised competition starting in late July/early August and concluding in October would be staged. But the news isn't so good for Victoria.
Grassroots and NPL football around the country was suspended in March in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic but with restrictions beginning to eased, FNSW was able to announce its return today.
The move ends a period of uncertainty surrounding the state's senior NPL competition. Sydney United Head Coach Zeljko Kalac, earlier told The Daily Telegraph that not running it would be "suicidal" and "catastrophic" for young players' development.
To mitigate disruption, promotion and relegation will not be enforced in the revised format, which will feature a two-week finals series at the end of the home-and-away season.
Both senior and U20 NPL sides are included in the plans, while U18 squads will play alongside other youth age grades.
NPL1 side Sutherland Sharks, NPL2 side Mounties Wanderers and WNPL2 side Western NSW FC will not be competing in the new competition.
“I want to pay tribute to all our clubs, administrators, officials, volunteers, players and coaches who have worked together to ensure NPL football would continue to be played this season,” Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge said.
“I would like to thank everyone for their patience, understanding, unity and commitment to play despite these challenging times.
“We look forward to showcasing many of our top-level matches on our new NPL.TV streaming platform.”
Elsewhere, the announcement of local lockdowns by the Victorian State Government in the face of an uptick in COVID-19 infections in Melbourne has left Football Victoria (FV) scrambling to salvage any plans of a 2020 season.