Promotion, relegation to return as Zone Football League connects to NNSWF premier competitions

July 5th, 2023

Northern NSW Football is delighted to announce the return of promotion and relegation to its senior men’s premier competitions from the 2024 season as well as the connection between NNSWF’s premier competitions and the Zone Football League for the first time.

The new structure for NNSWF’s senior men’s football has been designed to:

• enhance player development
• increase overall club development
• improve fan engagement
• provide more competitive matches

NNSWF will continue to fully administer the NPL Men’s NNSW and HIT106.9 Northern League competitions while the Interdistrict member zones, Newcastle Football, Macquarie Football and Hunter Valley Football, will remain responsible for the Zone Football League.

But with the connection of the Zone Football League to NNSWF’s premier competitions there will be a fully functioning football pyramid in northern NSW for the first time, allowing aspirational clubs to move up to higher levels based on sporting performance.

How it will work:

The 12 clubs competing in the 2023 NPL Men’s NNSW will remain in the competition for 2024, while HIT106.9 Northern League One will remain a nine-team competition at this stage.

The Zone Premier League, Zone League One and Zone League Two will remain 12, 10 and 10-team competitions respectively, but will be renamed Zone League One, Zone League Two and Zone League Three.

At the end of the 2024 season, the team that comes 12th in NPL Men’s NNSW will be relegated to HIT106.9 Northern League One, while the team that finishes first in HIT106.9 Northern League One will be promoted to NPL Men’s NNSW.

Promotion Play-off

The team that finishes 11th in NPL Men’s NNSW will join the teams that finish second, third and fourth in HIT106.9 Northern League One in a promotion/relegation play-off series to determine the 12th team in NPL Men’s NNSW in 2025.

This will involve the 11th team from NPL Men’s playing the fourth team from HIT106.9 Northern League One, and the second and third teams from HIT106.9 Northern League One, playing each other in two-legged home and away matches. The two winners will then meet in one match to decide who will play in the NPL Men’s NNSW competition.

Connecting the pyramid

The team that finishes ninth in HIT106.9 Northern League One will not be relegated to Zone League One at the end of 2024 due to the current bye. Relegation from Northern League One will commence from the 2025 season. But the team that finishes first in Zone League One in 2024 will be promoted to HIT106.9 Northern League One to make a 10-team league in 2025.

There will remain five-team finals series’ in the Zone Football League, with a straight one club up/one club down promotion-relegation model to come into effect between Northern League One, Zone League One, Zone League Two and Zone League Three.

NNSWF General Manager Football Operations Liam Bentley said the return of promotion and relegation was a huge positive for football in the region.

“This is something we have been working on for a while,” Bentley said.

“The decoupling of youth football from our senior football which came into effect this season was a major step into bringing back promotion and relegation to senior football.

“This really is a massive step for football in northern NSW and I’d like to thank the NNSWF Board of Directors, in particular deputy chair Mark Trenter, as well as the rest of the promotion-relegation working group that have worked collaboratively to achieve this positive outcome for the game.”

Speaking on behalf of the Interdistrict member zones, Newcastle Football CEO Russell Henry said he was thrilled with the outcome, in particular the connection of the football pyramid.

“This is such an exciting moment for football in our region and I’m really happy we were able to make this happen for our Zone Football League clubs,” Henry said.

“We’ve worked collaboratively with NNSWF and I believe ultimately this initiative will be for the betterment of our football community.

“The three independent Hunter-based Member Zones will remain as administrators of the Zone Football League. We will be fully responsible for our competitions as we are now, but it gives our aspirational clubs a chance to climb the ladder and ultimately become an NPL Men’s NNSW club one day.”

NNSWF Deputy Chair Mark Trenter said promotion and relegation was essential in terms of player and club development.

“The fact that the NNSWF board has now sanctioned promotion and relegation to come into effect for 2024 is absolutely huge and also allows for opportunities for pathways from the regions across our northern NSW footprint,” Trenter said.

“The panel of experts that I put together were absolutely united in getting this up and running for 2024.

“Special mention to Liam Bentley who is such an asset to NNSWF and has a genuine passion for our game. And also to Daniel McBreen who I approached to assist us as an expert who gave us an independent voice. He is an icon of Newcastle football and former professional player with extensive local knowledge.

“It was a pleasure to be appointed as chair for this project and I’m delighted that we have achieved the outcome we set out to.”

NNSWF CEO Peter Haynes said it was a momentous occasion for the game in northern NSW.

“I’m proud of the way my NNSWF staff have worked collaboratively with the working group and the member zones to achieve something that is undeniably for the betterment of football in our region,” Haynes said.

“I have no doubt players, clubs and fans will be excited by this news and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.”

NNSWF Chair Mike Parsons said he was proud of the way NNSWF had worked collaboratively with its member zones.

“This is obviously a change for the better and something that I’m sure will be hugely popular with the football community,” Parsons said.

“But the most pleasing thing for me is the way NNSWF, led by Mark, Pete, Liam and our staff, have listened to the football community and worked with our member zones to improve an important aspect of football in our region. I congratulate both parties for working together, communicating openly and building trust which demonstrates that we are all in this together for the betterment of football in our region.”


Northern NSW football has produced an explainer video and a comprehensive list of answers to potential questions.

These are available on the Promotion/Relegation portal on the NNSWF website HERE

More questions? Get in touch with us at

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