The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015
THERE will be more room for Papua New Guinea’s elite soccer talent to test themselves when the National Soccer League announces its teams for the 2015-2016 season this week.
With a record 13 entries to mull over for the country’s top domestic soccer competition, the NSL board led by chairman Isaac Lupari is expected to name 12 teams for the new season on Thursday.
NSL competition manager Simon Koima said the 13 entries had been vetted and the semi-professional competition would see its highest number of teams since its inception in 2006.
“The announcement of the 12 successful bidders will be made at 10am on Thursday in Port Moresby by the NSL board.
“We initially planned for a 10-team competition but we can do 12.
“Six per conference is manageable,” Koima said.
The conference system will be used for the first time in the NSL’s nine-year history, with the franchises divided into the southern and northern divisions.
One of the reasons for the new format is cost-saving as the NSL will no longer cover the travel and accommodation of the teams during the regular season and only come in to meet teams expenses during the finals.
The expansion of the competition is indicative of the developments in football over the last three seasons as well as the focus on major sports such as rugby league and soccer by the government.
Clubs spent an estimated K500,000 per season on their recruitment, player and coaching staff remuneration, training, medical, rehabilitation and other related expenses.
That figure is expected to increase in the new season.
Eight-time premiers Hekari were finally conquered last season by newcomers Lae City Dwellers and that showed the NSL was no longer a one-team competition but that franchises were starting to raise their standards and catch up to the perennial benchmarks.
The 13 applicants for the new season were Hekari United, Port Moresby, PS Huawei, Gigira Laitepo, Lakatoi, PKA Rapatona, Erema Gulf, Madang, Lae City Dwellers, Morobe United, Besta United, Admiralty, Goroka and West New Britain Tavur.
The Sir Hubert Murray Stadium has been identified as the National Soccer Leagues’s base of operations for the new season.