Change is inevitable and no more so than on the National First Division who changed from a four stream competition in the 1996/97 season to a Coastal/Inland system a year later. This system continued up until the start of the 2011/12 season when 16 teams made up the NFD single stream system. This is currently in use today.
Change had not been seen only in the league structure and over the years many teams have come and gone.
The current system allows two teams to be relegated at the end of each season to the ABC Motsepe League and one team automatically promoted to the PSL, with the chance of another team earning promotion through the Promotional Playoffs.
Compared to the 2011/12 season, the campaign of 2017/18 will be almost foreign with only Tuks and Witbank Spurs carrying their original names out of the 16 teams from the inaugural NFD single stream league. Thanda Royal Zulu, Vasco da Gama, FC Cape Town, Bay United, Sivutsa Stars and MP Black Aces have all had name changes.
MP Black Aces are now CT City and Bay United became Polokwane City and along with Chippa United all play in the PSL.
Names like Blackburn Rovers, FC AK, African Warriors, United FC (Garankuwa United), Carara Kicks, Dynamos and Atlie FC no longer grace the fields of professional football in South Africa.
This season has already seen more than its fair of changes and the season hasn’t even started yet.
Highlands Park were relegated from the PSL and return to the NFD, while ABC Motsepe League teams Uthongathi FC from KZN and Super Eagles from the Free State play pro football for the first time.
Milano sold their status to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzihandila and re-located to Limpopo. 2016/17 Champions Thanda Royal Zulu sold out to fellow KZN team Amazulu and will campaign under the name Richards Bay FC and FC Cape Town were bought by the Ubuntu Trust and will play under the name Ubuntu CT FC.
There are still some familiar names that fans will easily recognise though. Black Leopards, Jomo Cosmos, Mthatha Bucks, Tuks and Witbank Spurs are regulars in the NFD, while Highlands Park, CT All Stars, Stellenbosch FC (Vasco da Gama), Mbombela United, Real Kings, Royal Eagles (Sivutsa Stars) are not campaigning for the first time.