National First Division

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National First Division
National First Division logo.svg
Organising bodyPremier Soccer League
CountrySouth Africa
Number of teams16
Level on pyramid2
Promotion toSouth African Premier Division
Relegation toSAFA Second Division
Domestic cup(s)Nedbank Cup
Current championsSekhukhune United
1st title
Most championshipsFree State Stars
Jomo Cosmos
Chippa United
(2 titles)
WebsiteOfficial Site
Current: 2020–21 National First Division season

The National First Division (NFD), officially known as the GladAfrica Championship for sponsorship reasons, is the second-highest league of South African club football after the Premier Soccer League (PSL). Both the NFD and PSL are organised by the National Soccer League.

Structure and rules[edit]

For seasons between 2007–2011[edit]

The restructured NFD was divided into two streams, one inland and another coastal – each of which consisted of 8 teams. The winners of the two streams played against each other in a 'final' at the end of the season – the winner of which was be promoted to the PSL. The loser of the 'final' played in a mini-tournament/play-offs against the two second-placed teams in each stream and the 15th-placed team on the PSL log. The winner of this tournament was also be automatically promoted to the top flight.

For seasons after 2011[edit]

A new structure and new rules were decided, beginning from the 2011-12 season. The new rules are, that competing NFD teams, at all times during NFD matches, are required to field:[1]

  • Minimum 5 South African-born under 23 players.
  • Maximum 3 foreign players.

The new structure of the league, is a re-introduction of the one division format, previously used for the three seasons in 2004-07. This means, that the two former geographical split streams, will merge into one common division. The winner of the NFD will gain automatic promotion to PSL (replacing the lowest ranked team in PSL). Teams to finish 2nd and 3rd in NFD, will enter a playoff stage with a round robin format, against the team ranked as nr.15 in PSL. Only the winner of this playoff stage, will also get promoted to PSL.[1]

Relegation/promotion rules between NFD and Vodacom League remain more or less unchanged. Meaning that after each season, the two lowest ranked teams in NFD will be automatically relegated to Vodacom League. In the opposite direction, the two best teams of Vodacom League will get promoted to NFD, decided by a round robin playoff stage between the 9 provincial winners.


Mvela Golden League logo.svg

The first non-racial second level of South African football, was established in March 1987 as the OK League.[2] This league served as the competing place, for promotion/relegation to and from the topflight NSL. In the former years from 1978–1986, a topflight non-racial First Level had already been established, after the merger of the NFL and NPSL, to form the new common topflight NPSL. In the early years from 1978–1986 relegation/promotion to and from the topflight league, according to official records actually did happen, but apparently it happened from a Second Level league structure, still divided into whites/blacks/coloureds.[3]

When the new topflight Premier Soccer League was established in 1996, the organizers at the same time for the Second Level, replaced the former OK League with the new National First Division. Apart from being covered by a better sponsor deal, the most significant change -both at the First and Second Level- was to change the fixtures from yearly seasons, into the more Internationally adapted: September–May football season.

The first sponsors were United Bank who sponsored the league in 1997 and 1998. From November 1998 until the end of the 2001/2001 season, the league was sponsored by MTN.[4] It was reported that MTN withdrew from sponsorship the First Division as they were unhappy with their treatment from the PSL - the division organisers. MTN had been rebuffed by the PSL in their efforts to sponsor the PSL-organised Charity Cup because Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs would refuse to play in the tournament as the two clubs were sponsored by MTN's telecommunication rivals, Vodacom.[5] The First Division could not find a new sponsor until May 2004.

From 2004 until 2007 the league was sponsored by business magnate Tokyo Sexwale's Mvelaphanda Group and known as Mvela Golden League.[6] For those three seasons, there was no geographical split and all 16 teams played in one division. The league has been unable to find a sponsor since 2007.

In regards of all other previous seasons, there was a geographical split into two or four streams. The National First Division re-introduced the structure with no geographical split from the 2011–12 season.[1]

Year Western Cape Natal/Eastern/Cape Northern Southern
Winner Winner Winner Winner
1996–97[7] Santos African Wanderers Black Leopards Tembisa Classic
Year Coastal Inland
Winner Runner-up Winner Runner-up
1997/98[8] Seven Stars Michau Warriors Dynamos Witbank Aces
1998/99[9] African Wanderers Avendale Athletico Tembisa Classic Ria Stars
1999/00[10] Golden Arrows Avendale Athletico Ria Stars Dynamos
2000/01[11] Amazulu Park United Black Leopards Bloemfontein Young Tigers
2001/02[12] African Wanderers Avendale Athletico Dynamos Silver Stars
2002/03[13] AmaZulu Premier United Silver Stars Bloem Celtic
2003/04[14] Bush Bucks Avendale Athletico Bloemfontein Celtic Free State Stars
Winner Runner-up Third place Fourth place
2004/05[15] Free State Stars Durban Stars Hellenic Tembisa Classic
2005/06[16] Wits University City Pillars Vasco Da Gama Benoni Premier United
2006/07[17] Free State Stars Winners Park Pretoria University FC AK
Year Coastal Inland
Winner Runner-up Winner Runner-up
2007/08[18] Maritzburg United Bay United FC AK Dynamos
2008/09[19] Carara Kicks FC Cape Town Jomo Cosmos Mpumalanga Black Aces
2009/10[20] Vasco Da Gama Nathi Lions Black Leopards[nb 1] African Warriors
2010/11[21] Bay United Thanda Royal Zulu Jomo Cosmos Black Leopards
Winner Runner-up Third place Fourth place
2011/12[22] Pretoria University Chippa United Thanda Royal Zulu Blackburn Rovers
2012/13[23] Polokwane City Santos Mpumalanga Black Aces Thanda Royal Zulu
2013/14[24] Chippa United Black Leopards Maritzburg United Baroka
2014/15[25] Lamontville Golden Arrows Jomo Cosmos Black Leopards Thanda Zulu Royal
2015/16[26] Baroka Highlands Park Mbombela United Witbank Spurs
2016/17[27] Thanda Royal Zulu F.C.[nb 2] Black Leopards Stellenbosch Royal Eagles
2017/18[28] Highlands Park Black Leopards Jomo Cosmos Real Kings
2018/19[29] Stellenbosch Royal Eagles Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila Ajax Cape Town
2019/20[30] Moroka Swallows Ajax Cape Town Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila[nb 3] Real Kings
  1. ^ Black Leopards participated in a two-legged promotion/relegation playoff with Mpumalanga Black Aces and lost 5-3 on penalties. They were not promoted.
  2. ^ Thanda Zulu Royal were not promoted as their league status was purchased by fifth-placed Amazulu.
  3. ^ TTM lost in the playoffs, but purchased their position in the 2020–21 South African Premier Division by buying the Premier League status of Bidvest Wits.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "First Division Streams to Merge". KickOff. Retrieved 2010-05-09.
  2. ^ "About the National First Division". PSL. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  3. ^ "South Africa 1978". Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  4. ^ "MTN gives the PSL a R22-m boost". City Press. 1 November 1998.
  5. ^ Nxumalo, Raymond (9 September 2001). "League to go ahead without sponsors". City Press.
  6. ^ "Mvelaphanda sponsorship boosts First Division". City Press. 9 May 2004.
  7. ^ "South Africa 1996/97". Retrieved 2011-04-27.
  8. ^ "South Africa 1997/98". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  9. ^ "South Africa 1998/99". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  10. ^ "South Africa 1999/00". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  11. ^ "South Africa 2002/03". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  12. ^ "South Africa 2001/02". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  13. ^ "South Africa 2002/03". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  14. ^ "South Africa 2003/04". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  15. ^ "South Africa 2004/05". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  16. ^ "South Africa 2005/06". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  17. ^ "South Africa 2006/07". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  18. ^ "South Africa 2007/08". Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  19. ^ "South Africa 2008/09". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  20. ^ "South Africa 2009/10". Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  21. ^ "South Africa 2010/11". Retrieved 2011-04-27.
  22. ^ "South Africa 2011/12". Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  23. ^ "South Africa 2012/13". Retrieved 2015-03-05.
  24. ^ "South Africa 2013/14". Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  25. ^ "South Africa 2014/15". Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  26. ^ "South Africa 2015/16". Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  27. ^ "South Africa 2016/17". Retrieved 2017-07-07.
  28. ^ "South Africa 2017/18". Retrieved 2018-07-23.
  29. ^ "South Africa 2018/19". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  30. ^ "South Africa 2019/20". Retrieved 2021-02-19.

External links[edit]