Durban — Richards Bay FC, nicknamed the Natal Rich Boyz, won the NFL First Division championship and will play in the DStv Premiership next season after they finished the season on 59 points.
The University of Pretoria (AmaTuks) and Cape Town's Pride Igugule Kepa finished in second place (runners-up) and third place, respectively. They will fight it out with a yet unconfirmed top-flight outfit in the three-team PSL promotion/relegation play-offs in a few weeks.
Richards Bay FC started the final round of the GladAfrica Championship on top of the standings. A goalless draw against Cape Town Spurs at King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday was enough to see them earn automatic promotion to the elite league, while also claiming the crown of the National First Division title.
The University of Pretoria, meanwhile, could have won the championship in a tight title race that lasted until the final day, but needed Richards Bay to falter, while securing victory. They failed to see either of those objectives achieved by also playing out to a 0-0 draw against Hungry Lions at Tuks Stadium.
They, along with CT All Stars, will nevertheless contest in the PSL promotion/relegation play-offs, despite All Stars also losing their last encounter of the regular season 1-0 to rival Mother City club, Cape Town Spurs.
The top three in the Championship finished the season separated by only six points in the standings — Richard Bay on top with 54 points, followed by AmaTuks on 52 and All Stars on 48.
JDR Stars closed out the Top 4 a further three points behind but, along with Venda, were never in contention for a shock play-off berth this weekend.
At the bottom of the Championship standings, Jomo Cosmos and TS Sporting have already been relegated to the ABC Motsepe League before the commencement of Sunday’s final round.
Ezenkosi did manage to bid farewell to the league with a 2-1 victory over Callies, however, which lifted them to second last in the standings ahead of Abantu Bemthetho, who lost 1-0 to Uthingathi FC. The Mpumalanga-based club finished last in the division on 28 points, the same as Cosmos, but due to an inferior goal difference.
Although the NFD clubs that will participate in the promotion/relegation play-offs are now known, the Premiership club that will join them will remain unconfirmed until next weekend. There are possibly four clubs that are fighting off the dreaded drop, including Baroka, Swallows, TS Galaxy and the least likely Maritzburg United.
Moreover, neither automatic relegation, nor the club who will play in the promotion/relegation play-off by finishing 15th in the Premiership, have been decided.