Clubs will be playing for a place in the 2019 Football Mid North Coast Premier League when the competition kicks off next month.
FMNC chairman Mike Parsons has confirmed nine clubs will start in this season’s league.
However, one will be culled for next year.
This decision was made by the board last year.
Mr Parsons said at the time the board believes eight is the number the premier league can handle for the population in the area from Forster-Tuncurry to Macleay.
In 2015 10 sides played in the league.
However, Old Bar was an early casualty from the 2016 competition citing a lack of player numbers while Port FC pulled out of the 2017 premiership for the same reason.
It was then the board decided to settle on an eight team competition in first and reserve grades.
Mr Parsons confirmed the club finishing last in first grade will be relegated in 2019 – providing all incumbent teams nominate for the competition next year.
“There’s going to be a lot of interest in the side finishing first and the one finishing last,’’ Mr Parsons said.
He further confirmed the board will look at reintroducing promotion and relegation to the premier league for the 2020 seasons.
Clubs playing in Football Mid North Coast’s northern and southern competitions will be able to apply for a place in the premier league providing they pass strict criteria.
Mr Parsons said promotion/relegation games would then decide the issue.
In past years the match was controversially played on the premier league grand final day.
This drew criticism from the clubs defending their place in the league, as players were a month out of football before the match was held.
The challenging sides were usually involved in northern or southern league semi-finals and were match hardened going into the promotion/relegation encounter.
Mr Parsons has previously confirmed the game will be played at an earlier date when it is eventually required.
Wallis Lake will be the defending premier league champions.
Wauchope were wooden spooners in 2017.