THE relegation battle in the Northern Areas FA (Nafa) may only be resolved by 2014. The dispute, which started at the end of the season last year, resulted in the three teams involved – Ebenezer, Ramblers and Swallow – not being included in the fixtures when the season kicked off in April.
As a result, the league programme has been thrown into disarray.
In the latest development last month, Swallows successfully appealed to Safa-Nelson Mandela Bay against a decision by Nafa to dock them six points, which would have condemned them to the First Division.
As a result of the Safa-NMB ruling, Ebenezer would be the team to be relegated. However, a stalemate was reached when Ebenezer appealed against that ruling.
At a special general meeting on Monday, it was decided that, with only seven weeks remaining, it would be virtually impossible to complete fixtures and that the Premier League programme be scrapped for this year.
Instead, a special one-off competition, which would include all the teams, will be played.
The 14 teams will be divided into two groups and will play a round-robin, with the top two teams in each group qualifying for the playoffs.
The composition of the Premier League next season will depend on the outcome of the appeal lodged by Ebenezer to the national body.
If they are successful, then either Ramblers or Swallows will be relegated and the Premier League will consist of 15 teams. At the end of the 2013 season three teams will be relegated to return to a 12-team league in 2014.
On current form, Group A, which includes Bloom Callies, defending league and cup champions Hotspurs and Blackpool, who won the Mayoral Cup last weekend, appears to be the stronger.
The pick of tomorrow's matches should be the clash between Bloom Callies and Park United in Arcadia, with Callies starting as favourites. They will be back in action on Sunday when they play Stardrift in a Mala Moodaley KO Cup fixture.
Fresh from their Mayoral Cup success, Blackpool should carry too many guns for Chatty on Gelvan 1.
On Sunday, Shamrocks and Ramblers clash in a Malabar derby on Malabar 1.
Swallows get their first taste of serious action when they play Glenville on the Errol Heynes field.
The groups for the new Premier League Cup competition are:
Group A: Park United, Bloom Callies, Stardrift, Ebenezer, Blackpool, Chatty, Hotspurs
Group B: Saints, Fairview Rovers, Glenville, Swallows, Ramblers, Shamrocks, Wolves.
SEVERAL teams face tough double-headers in the Pefa Premier League this weekend.
Tonight, defending champions Callies host Hearts in Londt Park and on Sunday they take on Forresters at the EP Command field. In the first round they drew 1-1 with Hearts who beat NMMU 2-1 on Tuesday evening.
Forresters will be in action against Motherwell Academy at the EP Command field tomorrow. They drew 2-2 in the first round.
Squares and Highbury, who drew 1-1 in the first round, meet in Bridgemead tomorrow. Highbury will be back in action again on Sunday when they host PE City also in Bridgemead.