High stakes in MPL final round football clash

Photo: File
Photo: File
It may not have the financial implications associated with a relegation dogfight in England’s top-tier, but the stakes are still high for one of Christchurch’s long-standing football clubs and a relative newcomer to the Mainland Premier League.

Western AFC and Selwyn United’s final round clash at English Park on Saturday determines which side avoids the drop to the championship in 2021.

Clubs promoted to England’s Premier League bank millions of dollars worth of financial assistance from the Football Association, whereas pride is the currency being played for this weekend.

“It’s arguably the biggest game of the season, in a bizarre sort of way,” said Mainland Football chief executive Julian Bowden.

Mainland Football chief executive Julian Bowden. Photo: Chris Barclay
Mainland Football chief executive Julian Bowden. Photo: Chris Barclay
“There’s no financial loss or gain from being in the league, it’s more of a pride thing for both clubs.

“They’ve both worked hard all year, work goes on in the background to get the team to the game each week. Everyone is putting a lot of their own time, energy and passion into playing in the top league.”

Selwyn only need a draw to survive while bottom-placed Western must win for just the second time of a campaign that has yielded just four points and – 82 goal differential.

They beat Selwyn 2-1 in early August but lost the rematch 5-0 later that month.

Both clubs have experienced life in the second-tier with Western, who were formed in 1913, relegated in 2017 before returning to the premiership in 2019.

Selwyn started out in the championship after the venture was formed through the amalgamation of the Rolleston and Ellesmere club in late 2012, they made the step up for the first time in 2018.

The final round of the season also determines who finishes runner-up to runaway winners Cashmere-Technical with Nomads, Coastal Spirit and Ferrymead Bays all in contention if results work in their favour.

Nomads have 36 points but take on the champions, while Coastal Spirit (35) host Nelson Suburbs and Ferrymead Bays (33) face Christchurch United.

“Nomads finishing second would be an amazing outcome for them but they have a tough game,” Bowden said.









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