New format for National League approved

Among the main items on the agenda during the MFA Annual General Meeting, which was held at the Dolmen Hotel on Wednesday, were the approval of the amendments to the Rules Governing Competitions (Section VII) and in particular, the Rules Governing the National League of the Malta Football Association.

Thanks to these amendments, the First Division League will now be known as the Challenge League while the Second and Third Division leagues will merge into the National Amateur League.

For this coming season 2020/21, there will be sixteen teams in the Premier League, fifteen in the Challenge League and the remaining teams will be playing in the National Amateur League

A motion on the Promotion and Relegation from the Premier League, Challenge League and the National Amateur League in season 2020/21 was approved. This deals mainly with the promotion and relegation issues for this coming season. 

Premier League 2020/21

The Premier League shall take the form of a league which shall be played by all the sixteen clubs in the League on a double round-robin basis. 

The club placing first in the Premier League will be declared champion, the club finishing second Runner-Up while the clubs finishing thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth will be relegated to the Challenge League. 

The team finishing twelfth will take part in the Premier League Play-Out against the team finishing third in the Challenge League with the winner playing in the Premier League in 2021/22.

Challenge League 2020/21

The Challenge League First Division shall take the form of a league which shall be played by all the fifteen clubs in the Division on a double round-robin basis. 

The club placing first in the Challenge League will be declared champion, the club finishing second Runner-Up while the club finishing third will face the team finishing twelfth in the Premier League in the Premier League Play-Out.

The clubs finishing eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth will be relegated to the National Amateur League. 

National Amateur League 2020/21

The National Amateur League shall take the form of three (3) Groups each playing a league on a triple round-robin basis. Such Groups shall be as evenly composed as possible. The allocation of clubs in the respective groups shall be made prior to the start of the competition by means of a seeding system based on the classification of the previous season. 

The clubs finishing first in each Group shall be promoted to the Challenge League and shall also qualify to the Group Winners’ round-robin where the three Clubs placed in first position in the official classification table of each Group of the National Amateur League shall play against each other on a single round-robin basis. The winner of the Group Winners’ round-robin will be declared the Champion of the National Amateur League. The club placed second in the Group Winners’ round-robin shall be declared the Runner-Up of the National Amateur League. 

The clubs placed in the second, third, and fourth place of each Group shall participate in the National Amateur League Play Offs. 

  • The National Amateur League Play-Offs First Round shall be played between two clubs from amongst the fourth-placed clubs in each Group, drawn by lot;
  • The National Amateur League Play-Offs Second Round shall be played between the winners of the Preliminary Round and the clubs placed in the second, third, and fourth place of each Group. The draw shall be made in such a way that second-placed clubs are seeded;
  • The National Amateur League Play-Offs Semi-Finals shall be played between the winners of the Play-Offs Second Round. The Semi-Final draw shall be an open one;
  • The National Amateur League Play-Offs Final shall be played between the winners of the Play-Offs Semi-Finals. The winner of the National Amateur League Play-Offs shall participate in the following season’s Challenge League.

As from season 2021/22, the National League shall consist of three Divisions: 

  • fourteen (14) clubs in the highest division – the Premier Division League;
  • sixteen (16) clubs in the second highest division – the Challenge League;
  • remaining clubs in the third highest division – the National Amateur League.

The Premier League (as from 2021/22)

The Premier League shall be played by all the fourteen (14) clubs in the League on a double round-robin basis. At the end of the league the following shall apply; 

  • the Club placed in first position, at the end of the league, shall be declared the Champion of the Premier League;
  • the Club placed in second position, at the end of the league shall be declared the Runner-Up of the Premier League;
  • the Clubs placed in thirteenth and fourteenth position, at the end of the league, shall be relegated to the following season’s Challenge League First Division;
  • the twelfth placed Club shall participate in a Premier League Play-Out with the third placed Club in the Challenge League. The winner of the Premier League Play-Out shall participate in the following season’s Premier League.

The Challenge League (as from 2021/22)

The Challenge League First Division shall take the form of a league which shall be played by all the sixteen (16) clubs in the Division on a double round-robin basis. At the end of the league the following shall apply: 

  • the Club placed in first position, at the end of the league, shall be declared the Champion of the Challenge League, and shall be promoted to the Premier League;
  • the Club placed in second position, at the end of the league shall be declared the Runner-Up of the First DivisionChallenge League, and shall be promoted to the Premier League;
  • the Club placed in third position in the official Classification Table, at the end of the league shall participate in the Premier League Play-Out against the team ending twelfth in the Premier league;
  • the Clubs placed in thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth position, at the end of the league, shall be relegated to the following season’s National Amateur League Second Division.

The National Amateur League (as from 2021/22)

The National Amateur League shall take the form of three (3) groups each playing a league on a triple round-robin basis. Such groups shall be as evenly composed as possible. The allocation of clubs in the respective groups shall be made prior to the start of the competition by means of a seeding system based on the classification of the previous season. At the end of the league the following shall apply: 

  • The clubs placed in first position in each Group shall be promoted to the Challenge League and shall also qualify to the Group Winners’ round-robin where the three (3) Clubs placed in first position in the official classification table of each Group of the National Amateur League shall play against each other on a single round-robin basis. The winner of the Group Winners’ round-robin will be declared the Champion of the National Amateur League. The club placed second in the Group Winners’ round-robin shall be declared the Runner-Up of the National Amateur League. 
  • The clubs placed in the second, third, and fourth place of each Group shall participate in the National Amateur League Play Offs.
    i. The National Amateur League Play-Offs First Round shall be played between two clubs from amongst the fourth-placed clubs in each Group, drawn by lot;
    ii. The National Amateur League Play-Offs Second Round shall be played between the winners of the Preliminary Round and the clubs placed in the second, third, and fourth place of each Group. The draw shall be made in such a way that second-placed clubs are seeded;
    iii. The National Amateur League Play-Offs Semi-Finals shall be played between the winners of the Play-Offs Second Round. The Semi-Final draw shall be an open one;
    iv. The National Amateur League Play-Offs Final shall be played between the winners of the Play-Offs Semi-Finals. The winner of the National Amateur League Play-Offs shall participate in the following season’s Challenge League.
    .

Promotion and Relegation for 2020/21

Premier League (16 teams): bottom four (4) relegated to Challenge League; Play-Off – 12th in Premier League vs 3rd in Challenge League

Challenge League (15 teams): top two promoted to Premier League; Play-Off – 3rd in Challenge League vs 12th in Premier League; bottom five (5) relegated to National Amateur League

National Amateur League (22 teams) divided into three sections: three section winners promoted to Challenge League; 2nd, 3rd and 4th in each section (9 teams) take part in Play-Offs to secure final promotion spot to Challenge League

Promotion and relegation as from 2021/22

Premier League (14 teams): bottom two (2) relegated to Challenge League; Premier League Play-Off – 12th in Premier League vs 3rd in Challenge League

Challenge League (16 teams): top two promoted to Premier League; Premier League Play-Off – 3rd in Challenge League vs 12th in Premier League; bottom four (4) relegated to National Amateur League

National Amateur League (23 teams) divided into three sections: three section winners promoted to Challenge League; 2nd, 3rd and 4th in each section (9 teams) take part in Play-Offs to secure final promotion spot to Challenge League

Another motion focussed on the composition of the Youth League which will feature twelve teams in each of Sections A, B and C and the remaining teams playing in Section D. 

For season 2020/21, the composition of the National Youth League shall be as follows: 

  • National Youth League A – all the ten (10) teams that formed part of Section A and the first two (2) teams classified in Section B at the end of season 2019/20;
  • National Youth League B – the remaining eight (8) teams that formed part of Section B and the first four (4) teams classified in Section C at the end of season 2019/20;
  • National Youth League C – the remaining six (6) teams that formed part of Section C and the first six (6) teams classified in Section D at the end of season 2019/20; (Birzebbuga St. Peter’s were due to be promoted after placing sixth in Section D last season but they have now withdrawn from the competition and will be replaced by Marsa.)
  • National Youth League D – the remaining teams that formed part of Section D and all the seven (7) teams that formed part of Section E.

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