Canberra City cut as Gungahlin United promoted to Canberra's National Premier League

Canberra City cut as Gungahlin United promoted to Canberra's National Premier League

Canberra City has been cut from Canberra's National Premier League soccer competition and will be replaced by Gungahlin United in a revised nine-team men's competition for 2015.

But Gungahlin is one of four clubs that will need to prove its sustainability, with league champions the Cooma Tigers, grand-final winners Belconnen United and amalgamated club Woden Weston FC each granted provisional licences of only one year.

Canberra FC, Canberra Olympic, Monaro Panthers and Tuggeranong United have been issued three-year licences to compete in the NPL, although all will be subject to annual review, while the FFA Centre of Excellence (formerly the AIS) is guaranteed a place in the competition as part of the code's national development strategy.

Capital Football chief executive Heather Reid said it was "regrettable" Canberra City had not met the criteria for a licence, most notably because of its lack of juniors and uncertainly over its top-level coaching structure.

Gungahlin United had been providing juniors to Canberra City, but decided to push for its own licence and City was not been able to prove it can sustain the necessary junior pathway. Reid said she hoped City would continue to operate in Canberra's lower leagues.


"Their capacity to be in the Premier League and meet the criteria that's there now was not satisfied," Reid said.

"It's very regrettable ... it doesn't mean Canberra City disappears. Canberra City still has the capacity to be a strong community league club if they want to.

"We would welcome the opportunity to meet with them and discuss their future direction in order to preserve and acknowledge the history of the club and the significant contribution Canberra City has had to the development of football in the ACT.

"We will be encouraging them to continue working with Gungahlin United, who will be coming into the league as the new club and hopefully they can continue that relationship."

Canberra City was established in 1979, playing in the National Soccer League for almost a decade before moving to the ACT premier league.

Club president Geoff Perry said the team's lowly performances this season would not have helped its cause of remaining in the NPL.

"We recognised for some time we would be a club that would have difficulty complying with the FFA criteria," Perry said.

"We felt very confident and still do that we could put a junior National Premier League base together.

"It's not unexpected, but we're disappointed. It's a difficult time for football in the ACT, with the demands of the FFA."

Reid said Gungahlin's promotion to the top-tier NPL provided Capital Football with a strategic footprint in Canberra's fastest-growing region.

Gungahlin has more than 1200 registered juniors, but will need to build a men's NPL team. Reid said Gungahlin would need to confirm its senior technical and coaching staff by the end of November, while it will not be given any extra concessions in the player points-cap for recruitment.

Woden Weston Football Club is a partnership between Woden Valley and Weston Molonglo. It will play under a new club logo and in new colours.

Gungahlin and Woden Weston will also compete in the eight-team Women's Premier League.

Two of the NPL's most successful clubs on the pitch this season, Belconnen and Cooma, still have work to do off it.

Despite winning this year's grand final, Belconnen United must continue to convince Capital Football about its sustainability and financial status.

Cooma took out this year's league championship, but there are still doubts about the club's ability to field competitive junior teams in all the compulsory age groups, from under-12 to under-18.

Men's National Premier League

Belconnen United, Canberra FC, Canberra Olympic, Cooma Tigers, FFA Centre of Excellence, Gungahlin United, Monaro Panthers, Tuggeranong United, Woden Weston

Women's Premier League

Belconnen United, Canberra FC, Canberra Olympic, Gungahlin United, Monaro Panthers, Tuggeranong United, Woden Weston, ACTAS

Chris Wilson is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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