Cambridge are almost certain to not face a fourth WaiBOP regional opponent in next year’s Northern League second division.
With all but one place in the competition already decided, it now appears Papamoa will not be able to meet criteria required to earn promotion from the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership.
Papamoa is in a three-club race with Taupo and Waikato Unicol to win the Premiership but is the only club to indicate they would seek promotion to the Lotto NRFL.
However, entry criteria require the winner of the Premiership to be clear by September 16.
That does not seem possible with Papamoa trailing Taupo by three points and having four matches still to play.
The WaiBOP draw schedule shows Papamoa finishing their fixtures in early October.
Without a play-off series, the Northern League is expected to promote the runners-up of the AFF/NFF Conference, Unimount MCL Bohemian Celtic, meaning another trip to Auckland for the Reds next year.
Other clubs in next year’s second division are:
Manurewa AFC (relegated from Division 1)
Oratia United (relegated from Division 1)
Claudelands Rovers (3rd in Division 2)
Metro FC (4th in Division 2)
Franklin United (5th in Division 2)
Albany United (6th in Division 2)
Ngongotaha (8th in Division 2)
Northland FC (9th in Division 2)
Onehunga Mangere United (10th in Division 2)
Greenhithe Catimba MC (promoted as champions of AFF/NFF Conference)
WaiBOP Football clarifies play-off process
WaiBOP Football have made the following statement on their website about the promotion process:
Some confusion appears to exist surrounding the process and eligibility of WaiBOP Football Federation clubs for entry into the end-of-season Lotto Northern Region Football League (NRFL) play-offs. WaiBOP Football would like to offer the following explanation by way of clarification.
In July, WaiBOP Football made initial contact with all potential NRFL play-off contenders from the region.
On July 31 one club, Papamoa FC, indicated they wished to contest the NRFL play-offs, should they qualify, but were, at the time, unprepared commit to a place in Lotto NRFL Division 2 should they win.
On August 2 Papamoa FC was advised that the date they needed to confirm their intention to compete in the play-offs, to Lotto NRFL administration, was August 13. Papamoa FC asked for an extension of this date to August 17, which was granted. Papamoa FC was advised that committing to a play-off place was committing to the Lotto NRFL and were made aware of the potential fine should they choose not to participate in the Lotto NRFL following a successful play-off series. Papamoa FC was also advised that they had to be the clear winner of the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership should they wish to participate in an Lotto NRFL play-off.
On August 17 Papamoa FC confirmed their intention to contest the Lotto NRFL play-offs should they win the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership.
On August 20 Papamoa FC was advised that the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership winner had to be known by September 16, 2018.
WaiBOP Football believes all appropriate stakeholders have been kept up to date with the process, dates and eligibility requirements for entry into the 2019 Lotto NRFL, and that this has been done in a timely manner. We appreciate the 2018 Loaded WaiBOP Premiership season will run longer than scheduled, due to weather interruptions, extended ISPS Handa Chatham Cup runs and other circumstances. We also believe opportunities have existed to fulfil all the necessary fixtures to have found the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership champions by the required date.