Falcons boost bid for full league licence

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 12:00 22/12/2012

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Nelson's bid to secure a senior national league licence has a "leg-up" on other hopefuls, while a New Zealand under-20 team is also being mooted in a possible expansion of the national football league.

Earlier this year Nelson's original bid for a full licence in the ASB Premiership was unsuccessful, but in September New Zealand Football granted permission for Nelson to field a team in the ASB Youth League, the Nelson Falcons run by TSF Inc.

With the licence for current teams participating in the ASB Premiership expiring at the end of the present season in March-April, all franchises were asked to submit their applications again.

New Zealand Football also invited those who applied to join the league earlier this year to re-submit their bid, which TSF Inc subsequently has.

New Zealand Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh said the structure that had been put in place for the Nelson Falcons youth side would benefit Nelson's re-submitted bid for a senior side.

"The benefits that have occurred for Nelson now, is that they have had the opportunity to set up some infrastructure," said McKavanagh. "You can never underestimate how much effort that takes to do, so it does give them a bit of a leg-up on it.

"The eight current teams have put their hat in the ring, and we have had other expressions of interest from around the country as well, so we just have to sit down and look at what the right thing for the league is long-term."

Nelson's inclusion in the under-19 youth league's southern conference was balanced in the northern conference by the inclusion of a New Zealand under-17 side.

McKavanagh said that if a team was added to the southern conference, a New Zealand under-20 team was an option to balance out the numbers up north.

"We will probably be looking at, if we were going to do something along those lines, it may be something around the under-20s team for 2015."

New Zealand is the host nation for the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup.

New Zealand Football decision makers will be meeting in early January to take the application process to the next phase.

"The thing that I am interested in at the moment is seeing how well the Nelson team perform in the youth league," said McKavanagh.

"It is going to be very interesting to see them step out on to the field for the first time and I hope the Nelson community get behind them and support them."

The Nelson Falcons' season begins against Canterbury United at Trafalgar Park on January 13.

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- The Nelson Mail

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