National League for 2024 Xolisani Gwesela

Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter

ZIFA has acceded to regional division one soccer league’s request to have the National League kicking off next year instead of this season.

The regional honchos met the Zifa executive to discuss the rollout of the National League and agreed that the 2023 season will be used to plan for the roll over.

The first division regions — Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern — wanted time to alert their clubs so that they have time to prepare for the introduction of the National League which is part of fulfilling a Zifa constitutional requirement. 

Already, the Northern Region kicked off their season at the weekend, with the Eastern Region set to start their matches on Good Friday while the Central Soccer League and the Southern Region are expected to kick off on the weekend of April 15-16.

The Northern Region’s first division has 18 teams, with 16 set to compete in the Eastern Region while 14 have been confirmed for the Central Region’s promotional race. For the Southern Region, feedback on their preparations for the new season is expected today. 

Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela confirmed that the National League will start in 2024.

Gwesela said this year they will work on the format of the National League, rules and regulations which will clearly spell out relegation and promotion issues as well as coming up with the structure that will manage the league.

There were proposals that each region would recommend two members to the National League’s interim committee.

The introduction of the National Division One League will see two clubs relegated from the Premier Soccer League at the end of the season instead of four. This means that fierce competition is expected in all the four regions this year as clubs battle to try and get promotional tickets before the introduction of the National League first mooted and adopted in 2013.

Presently, each region, Central, Eastern, Northern and Southern promotes a team each into the PSL. There have been arguments that more competitive leagues in the world have one promotional division contributing two clubs like the English Premiership and the Spanish La Liga.

Having at least 64 teams contributing four to the Premiership, has been viewed as one of the major reasons that have weakened the top flight league.

The tally of at least 64 teams represents a potential four divisions, meaning clubs that should be playing Area Zone football find themselves at a higher league than reality. — @ZililoR

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