The draw for the 2015-16 ASB Premiership was announced on Thursday with the country’s top domestic football competition featuring several exciting new developments.
The streamlined eight-team league includes 59 matches, 32 of which will be broadcast live via SKY Sport, along with a shortened one-leg semi-final and grand-final series.
Wanderers SC, involved over the past two seasons as part of the preparation for the New Zealand side competing at the FIFA U-20 World Cup on home soil earlier this year, drop out of the league while the Wellington Phoenix return for their second year in the competition after their 2014-15 debut.
The action kicks off on Sunday 1 November with the pre-season ASB Charity Cup fixture between Auckland City FC and Team Wellington before the competition proper gets underway on Sunday 8 November with Waitakere United hosting the defending champions in a televised clash at QBE Stadium in Auckland.
The November 12 match-up between last year’s Grand Finalists Auckland City and Hawke’s Bay United is the first of 14 Thursday night games throughout the season – including the competition Grand Final on Thursday 10 March.
Our first match, a home game at Gower Park against Team Wellington, is set for 4.35pm on Sunday November 15 and will also be televised. See the full draw below.
New Zealand Football Community Director Cam Mitchell is delighted with the way the league, a key part of the player pathway to international football, is shaping up for the new season.
“The ASB Premiership is the connection point between our thriving grassroots base in the Whole of Football programme and our elite international teams operating under the Beyond Football Plan,” Mitchell said.
“It is vitally important we have a competition which serves as a proving ground for players looking to make that step in their career and we feel this year’s competition will be the best yet in that regard.”
“The Wanderers SC concept helped to develop a number of players for the FIFA U-20 World Cup and several of them are now among Anthony Hudson’s All Whites squad. That is the calibre of player which will now filter out to the remaining clubs and I’m sure we’ll see competition strengthen even further as a result.”
A new feature of the league for the 2015-16 season is a funding partnership with Trillian Trust which provides the opportunity for clubs to have their season entry fees covered by New Zealand Football if they are able to meet set development criteria.
The criteria cover club’s operational areas in administration and governance, community partnership and on-pitch aspects, such as the employment of suitably qualified coaches, and Mitchell says the initiative is an exciting step towards creating a stable competition providing the best possible experience for everyone involved.
“New Zealand Football is committed to raising operational standards across the ASB Premiership with the aim to develop best practice throughout the country,” Mitchell said.
“The Quality Club Mark development programme was launched in 2011 as part of our award winning Whole of Football Plan and in 2016-17 the programme will be developed to include a Quality Club Mark for clubs operating at the ASB Premiership level.
“As stage one of this process we are providing ASB Premiership clubs with an opportunity to have their 2015/16 season entry fees paid if they are able to demonstrate they have the systems and personnel in place to deliver a top quality experience for everyone connected with the club.
“Stable, strong and vibrant clubs are key to our ability to continue to grow the sport in this country and our clubs at the top of the pyramid should serve as examples for that vision.”
Click on the image below for the full 2015-16 ASB Premiership draw.