Promotion and Relegation- an overview

4 months ago By Ian Townsend

FA Rules on promotion and relegation outlined

As we've had a number of questions from supporters regarding the regulations governing promotion and relegation for the forthcoming season, we thought we'd reproduce the relevant excerpt from the FA Document outlining these (APPENDIX G- REGULATIONS FOR THE OPERATION OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE SYSTEM) here:


Step 2 and Step 3

The Clubs in the bottom three places in each of the two divisions at Step 2 at the end of the Regular Season will be relegated to a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 3 for the following Playing Season. They will be replaced by the Clubs finishing in 1st position in each of the four divisions at Step 3 together with a further two Clubs determined by a series of Play Off Matches.

In each division at Step 3, the Play Off Matches shall be played so that the highest placed of the eligible Clubs plays against the lowest placed and the other two Clubs play each other (the “Step 3 Initial Play Off Matches”): The winners of each of the Step 3 Initial Play Off Matches will play each other resulting in one winner in each of the Step 3 divisions (the “Step 3 Divisional Play Off Winners”). The Step 3 Divisional Play Off Winners will play a further match against each other. The ties will be played on a single match basis with the home Club being the Club with the best points per match ratio in the Regular Season. If there are only three eligible Clubs then the highest placed shall receive a bye to a second match where it will play the winner of the other Play Off Match and the winner of that match will play in the further Play Off Match described above. Clubs finishing below position 7 will not be considered for Play Off Matches.

The promoted Clubs will be placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 2.

Step 3 and Step 4

The Clubs finishing in the bottom three places in each of the four divisions at Step 3 at the end of the Regular Season will be relegated to a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 4 for the following Playing Season. They will be replaced by the Clubs finishing in 1st position in each of the seven divisions at Step 4 together with a further five Clubs determined by a series of Play Off Matches.

In each division at Step 4 the Play Off Matches shall be played so that the highest placed of the eligible Clubs plays against the lowest placed and the other two Clubs play each other (the “Step 4 Initial Play Off Matches”). The winners of each of the Step 4 Initial Play Off Matches will play each other and the winner of those matches shall result in seven teams eligible for promotion. The five Clubs to be promoted shall be the five Clubs out of the seven divisional Play Off winners with the best points per match ratio in the Regular Season. If there are only three eligible Clubs then the highest placed shall receive a bye to the second match where it will play the winner of the other Play Off match and the winner of that match will be promoted. Clubs finishing below position 7 will not be considered for Play Off Matches.

The promoted Clubs will be placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 3.

Step 4 and Step 5

The Clubs finishing in the bottom two places in each of the seven divisions at Step 4 at the end of the Regular Season will be relegated and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 5. These Clubs will be replaced by the fourteen Clubs finishing in first position in each of the fourteen divisions at Step 5 at the end of the Regular Season.


Now for those of you who might struggle with some of the Play Off issues, the marvellous Non League Paper helpfully summarised as follows:

Non-League’s restructuring means ‘Super’ play-offs will be needed at Step 3 next term – while two Step 4 play-off winners also won’t be promoted!

Those are two of the key outcomes following this summer’s Pyramid shake-up, which has seen an extra division added at both levels in an attempt to cut down on travelling.

As usual next term, there will be three clubs relegated from each of National League North and South. That leaves six spaces to fill at Step 2 from the now four feeder divisions instead of three. A new Southern League division has been added.

It means the champions of all the four Step 3 leagues will go up, but there will only be space for two other sides from across the four divisions.

The traditional play-off structure from second to fifth place remains, but the winners won’t be guaranteed promotion. Instead, the four successful teams face a ‘Super’ play-off – two separate ties, decided by the FA Leagues Committee on the most suitable geographical basis.

The matches will be one-leg and played at the side with the best points-per-game ratio during the season. The two winners will be promoted to Step 2.

The extra Bostik League division at Step 4, taking the total to seven, has also complicated things numbers-wise. There will be 12 promotions spots to fill and seven will be taken by the respective champions.

That leaves a handful of places up for grabs – and they will be allocated to five of the seven divisional play-off winners.

The five with the best points-per-game ratio will win promotion from Step 4. It means two sides who win their divisional play-offs will suffer the heartbreak of not going up.

Teams who finish in the lower play-off positions at the end of the regular season but then go on to win them are less likely to go up on the points-per-game ratio basis.

The FA Leagues Committee would ultimately like to have a 1-2-4-8 Pyramid, but until then it is likely there will be anomalies, especially at Step 4 where there are now seven divisions.

You can read the NLP article here. Although you probably read it from the paper back in June!

Where next?

Bostik Predictions- The Final Outcome: Premier Division Supporter representatives from each club have predicted the outcome of the Premier Division. So who do they think will win?
Angels Peter wins FA Groundsman of the Year Award Hastings United and Wingate & Finchley also honoured

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