Melville’s Northern League Draw Announced
Melville United begin their 2016 northern premier league season on Good Friday March 25, away to Bay Olympic, with their first home game on Saturday April 2 against Three Kings.
This season Auckland Football has reconfigured the premier league as a 13-team division – the first in league history – after caving in to pressure from Three Kings United, who had been previously relegated following a repeatedly contested ruling that the club had fielded an ineligible player in a number of matches.
Three clubs will be relegated this season, and one promoted, to return it to 12 teams in 2017.
The Three Kings spat rolled on for more than nine months, and affected Melville, insofar as we would have been relegated if they had not lost their points.
But the AFF Board agreed to a request from Three Kings United that the matter be dealt with by mediation process under the Auckland Football Federation constitution. This effectively sidestepped outcomes determined under the rules and regulations of the league.
In a statement AFF Chairman John Macleod said: “The AFF Board has acknowledged that there was an unfairness or harshness in the sanction handed out to Three Kings United and has therefore moved to address this while taking as much care as possible to try to avoid a negative impact on other clubs.
“During mediation, Three Kings United was able to show that there were inconsistencies in the registration and transfer process for the player in question and that these led Three Kings United to reasonably assess that the player was in fact eligible to play for the club in 2015.
“The Board feels an extended Premier League competition for the 2016 season is the fairest and most appropriate course of action and has therefore deemed that the format of the NRFL should be amended to reflect this.”
Prior to the decision affected clubs were invited to submit, though the AFF’s failure to allow discovery of all the information related to the player ineligibility meant clubs were unable to express an informed opinion.
Melville chairman Bruce Holloway said it had been perhaps the most shabbily conducted dispute process in the history of the northern league and highlighted the constitutional and structural fragility of the longest running regional league in New Zealand.
“Three Kings, as an AFF-affiliated club, have been able to draw upon a constitutional clause to gain the ear and sympathy of the AFF board and over-ride the judicial process,” Holloway said.
“But such an avenue would not have been available to a premier league club, such as ourselves, domiciled outside of Auckland, becuase we are not affiliated to the federation which has assumed control of the northern league. It only reinforces the need for the re-establishment of an autonomous northern provincial council to govern regional leagues.
“However Melville have no axe to grind with Three Kings as such, and we will now concentrate on the 2016 season.”
One feature of the draw yet to be finalised is a designated “midweek” match between Melville and Wanderers Sports Club. The match must be played by agreement before May 31.
Melville are again being coached by Steve Williams, with the assistance of Richie Wade and Blair Hoad, while Merv Williams will coach Melville Reserves.
Melville United draw, 2016
Northern Premier League & Reserves
Home team first
……. Premier Reserves
25.3.2016 Bay Olympic Melville Utd Friday 3.00 Friday 12.30
2.4.2016 Melville Utd Three Kings Utd Saturday 2.45 Saturday 12.15
9.4.2016 Melville Utd Bye
16.4.2016 Forrest Hill Milford Melville Utd Saturday 3.00 Saturday 12.30
23.4.2016 Melville Utd East Coast Bays Saturday 2.45 Saturday 12.15
25.4.2016 Tauranga City Melville Utd Monday 3.00 Monday 12.30
30.4.2016 Melville Utd Central Utd Saturday 2.45 Saturday 2.00
7.5.2016 Eastern Suburbs Melville Utd Saturday 3.00 Saturday 12.30
??? Melville Utd Hamilton Wanderers Mid Week Games TBA