Hawke's Bay United will take the field for the final time this weekend after 16 years as a football club.
New Zealand Football announced in December that the ongoing national men's league season would be the last of its kind under the franchise, summer-based format, citing a desire to make youth development a priority.
The national men's league will now consist of two phases, run from March to December, and be contested by existing winter clubs.
HBU director of football Jonathan Gould said the club, which is currently seventh in the ISPS Handa Men's Premiership, will not feature in the new system and will cease to exist after 16 years.
Gould, who has played and coached the club, said the franchise was built on creating pathways for youth in the region.
"We weren't just asked to set up a franchise team, but one underpinned by youth development and an academy that over years would produce top players and we've lost a vehicle to do that," he said.
"I do get the decision, however, as it gives clubs their own pathway to the top league, which every other league in the world has."
New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said he hoped the changes would begin a shift towards youth.
The first phase of the new set-up will consist of northern, central and southern conferences – a rebranding of the existing premier regional winter leagues.
Teams will be required to include two under-20 players in their starting line-ups and will only be able to field four foreign players, plus an additional player from another country in the Oceania Football Confederation.
The top four teams from the northern conference, the top three teams from the central conference and the top two teams from the southern conference will advance to a national championship phase, alongside a Wellington Phoenix development side.
Of the other existing ISPS Handa Men's Premiership sides, Eastern Suburbs and Hamilton Wanderers already compete in the northern league and will transition, while Auckland City, Team Wellington, Waitakere United and the Phoenix have relationships with existing clubs, with discussions to be held about their future.
The return to a winter-centric competition also marks the end of the line for Canterbury United in their current form.
Pragnell hopes the changes would help bring about "a cultural shift".
"This is not about winning, this is about youth development," he said.
"We're doing a lot of work with our coaching networks across New Zealand to say that if you are involved in this, we want it to be about player development first and foremost."
Hawke's Bay United, which has been coached by Gould, Matt Chandler, Chris Greatholder, Brett Angell and Bill Robertson since its inception in 2005, will face Eastern Suburbs at Bluewater Stadium in Napier at 4pm on Sunday, February 28, in their final fixture in the club's history.
Gould said the club hopes to finish on a high, with one of the biggest crowds ever.
"The passion the board, sponsors and fans over the 16 years warrants a turnout from the football public in Hawke's Bay," he said.
"We've had All Whites, UK professional footballers, a South Korean international – when you look back, it becomes sad to know this is the end."
Gould, a former Scotland international goalkeeper, said while the match signals the end of an era for HBU, the region's football fans must stick together moving forwards.
"It's important now as a football community that we come together for the benefit of developing the young players of the region," he said.
"If that means Napier City Rovers are the flagship club, or we can help Havelock North Wanderers or Napier Marists get into the Central League, then we should support them in that goal."