Football South happy with league

Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Its teams have battled on the pitch, but Football South is happy with how this year's Southern Football League has played out.

Federation chief executive Chris Wright said plenty had been learnt from the first South Island-wide league to be held since 1999.

Having been billed as a ''pilot year'', the season had provided both the Southern and Mainland federations a base from which to build.

A review is being conducted in which feedback is being sought from the clubs before any decisions are made about how the league would look next year.

Among the feedback already received was how the Football South Premier League was impacted by the Southern League.

''The feedback we got during that competition was that it was very competitive and that was really positive,'' Wright said.

''However, when the South Island league started and the six maintaining premier league teams stayed in the same league, there was a quite a lot of feedback about the drop in intensity.

''The teams in the South Island league found the competitive games really good.''

Booking travel had been challenging, due to the qualifiers not being confirmed until late - in one case the week before the first game.

That had meant booking flights when air fares were more expensive and teams occasionally had to travel by bus or van.

Wright described it as the ''biggest undoing factor'' financially.

The league ended up costing about 15-20% more than originally thought.

From a results perspective he said the clubs were disappointed with their placings.

All three South teams finished in the bottom four of the eight-team league.

Queenstown was fifth on 10 points, Dunedin Technical seventh on five and Southland United eighth on three.

Of the 18 points obtained by South teams, only nine of a possible 45 came against Mainland sides.

Wright said playing these games would improve that, although the gap in level could not be disregarded.

''It's the most evidence we've had for a long time about where our teams sit in comparison to Mainland football teams.

''It's not something we can ignore.

''I think obviously our teams were all in the bottom four, so we would like to perform better than that, I'm sure.

''The message I've been getting from the clubs is that the competition has been really good.''

He said the league had been a ''good learning curve'' and the review would be completed within six to eight weeks.

At that point it would make decisions about how it would look next year - which could be exactly the same or completely different.

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