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FOUR-GONE!

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MBABANE – The proposed 12-team MTN Premier League is a combination of good and bad news for elite sides.


This proposal, as announced by Eswatini Football Association (EFA) President Adam ‘Bomber’ Mthethwa last Friday in a press conference, will be tabled and discussed for adoption during the association’s annual general meeting (AGM) expected to be held at the end of June or early July.


The good news is that this proposal, if adopted during the AGM, will only come into effect in the 2020/2021 football season.
The bad news though is that four teams will be relegated from the elite league when this decision comes into effect while two teams will be promoted from the national first division league to make the 12 in top-flight football as proposed by the country’s football mother body.


Increment


Currently, the MTN National First Division League has 12 teams but the EFA proposal is seeking increment of the teams in that division to 16. The regional super leagues are also affected by the proposed changes as they will be required to uniformly allow 16 teams and the most affected are Hhohho and Shiselweni regions where the super leagues in those regions are divided into two (northern and southern).


Under the new proposed structure for the super leagues, it means the two regions must each have one super league made up of 16 teams. Hhohho presently has 25 super league teams (10 for southern zone and 15 in northern zone) and this number will go down to 16. Likewise, Shiselweni super leagues have northern and southern zones, bringing the total number of teams competing to 24. There are 12 teams competing in each zone and worth noting is that Manzini and Lubombo have super leagues with 16 teams, conforming to the proposed structure by the EFA.


“People must recall that there were initially 12 teams in the premier league before bad football decision which saw teams increased to 14 as per request of the PLE. The agreement was that this was a pilot project by the PLE and they (PLE) were to come back with a report to the EFA executive committee. However, nothing happened until now that the EFA is proposing that the structure in the premier league returns to the 12 teams.

This is not affecting just the premier league but all leagues under the auspices of the EFA,” a trusted source, part of the EFA executive committee, confided to this publication. The source added that the issue of 12 teams in the premier league was agreed by the EFA General Assembly at Royal Swazi Sun in Ezulwini a few years ago. “Manzini FA raised a proposal in that AGM that teams be increased to 16 and you will remember that this was during the same season when Mbabane Highlanders were first relegated from the premier league.


“There was debate on that proposal and this led to an extraordinary meeting where it went down to voting from the EFA members. The votes were tied at 21 as others wanted the teams increased to 16 while others were comfortable with the 12. After debate, the general assembly agreed that the teams should remain at 12 in the premier league but the PLE then came with a proposal to increase the teams to 14 after Highlanders were again relegated.


Structure


They proposed this structure as a pilot project and promised to come back with a report to the EFA but this never happened until now,” the source further revealed.
EFA Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe said only the association’s general assembly will decide on the proposed 12-team structure in the premier league.


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