The NZFC, or New Zealand Football Championship is New Zealand’s top division for association football. This semi-professional/professional football league is run by New Zealand Football and is operated by separately from the other competitions for winter regional clubs.
Originally, there was the New Zealand National Soccer League tournament, which involved clubs across New Zealand Football’s regional governing bodies. The NZFC replaced this with the intention of running as a football summer league which involved new clubs which had solely been created for the competition. The successful original franchise bidders were Auckland City, Napier City Rovers, Canterbury United, Team Wellington FC, Otago United, Waikato FC, YoungHeart Manawatu and Waitakere United.
2004 saw the first ever NZFC match during which Napier City Rovers were defeated by Auckland City, who then went on to win 3-2 over Waitakere United in the grand final. 2013 saw YoungHeart Manawatu being dropped from the NZFC competition since they had finished in last place during the last 3 seasons. A team called Wanderers SC took their place, with the SC standing for Special Club. The following season, the Premiership was expanded to encompass 9 times with the Wellington Phoenix Reserves being included in the competition. Further restrictions were released at this time that required half of all players on the match day squad had to be eligible to be players for the All Whites.
By the 2016-17 season the league had expanded to include ten teams with the addition of Tasman United, Hamilton Wanderers and Eastern Suburbs and WaiBop United leaving the competition. The newly expanded league was rebranded in 2017 with a new name thanks to its 3 year-long sponsorship deal that had been made with ISPS Handa, making its new title the ISPS Handa Premiership.