FA National League System Restructure - season 2018/19
Tue 18th July 2017 | Announcements | By Ian Templeman
At the FA Steps 1-6 Leagues Conference at the weekend, details of the FA’s plans for restructuring of the National League System were announced.
The planned FA Restructure is intended to be implemented with effect from the start of the 2018-19 season. As a League which operates at Step 5 and Step 6 of the Non-League pyramid, the details and potential impact of the proposals on our League are as follows.
The FA intends to create two new divisions, one at Step 3 and one at Step 4 in an attempt to reduce travelling at that level. In order to implement this, the FA have decided that all Divisions from Step 3 downwards will be reduced to 20 clubs per Division.
This coming season, all Step 5 Division Champion Clubs across the country (14) will be promoted to a Step 4 Division, and the next 12 runners up across the Step 5 Divisions with the best points per game ratio will also be promoted.
The club finishing bottom of the 6 current Step 4 Divisions will be relegated to Step 5 (6 in total). That will give the required number of Clubs to form the two New Divisions.
So, we could have 2 promoted from our League, and we could have 1 or 2 Clubs relegated to our Premier Division, dependent who finishes bottom of the Northern Premier League First Divisions, North & South.
Promotion and relegation between our Premier and First Divisions will stay the same, i.e. 3 up and 3 down. For this season, with us having 23 Clubs in the Premier Division it would normally mean the bottom 4 clubs would be relegated at the end of this season, to revert to 22 Clubs in that Division.
However, in order to reduce the Division to 20 Clubs, it means the following would take place:
If no club is relegated to us from Step 4, it means that 4 Clubs will be relegated to the First Division.
If 1 club is relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 5 clubs will be relegated to the First Division.
If 2 clubs are relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 6 clubs will be relegated to the First Division.
So in summary, between 4 and 6 Clubs will be relegated at the end of the coming season, from the Premier Division to the First Division.
That then has a knock-on effect to our Step 6 Division (First Division), and with this division also needing to be reduced to 20 clubs as part of the FA plan, the following possible scenarios could take place.
Promotion from Step 7 will still apply, so you could have 2 Step 7 Clubs achieving promotion.
If that is so, it would mean:
If no club is relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 4 Clubs will be relegated to the First Division, and 5 Clubs would be relegated from the First Division to a suitable Step 7 League.
If 1 club is relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 5 clubs will be relegated to the First Division, and 6 Clubs would be relegated from the First Division to a suitable Step 7 League.
If 2 clubs are relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 6 clubs will be relegated to the First Division, and 7 Clubs would be relegated from the First Division to a suitable Step 7 League.
In addition, it was also announced at the Conference that there will be North & South Divisions in the North West at Step 6, and that the running of these leagues will go out to tender, as was the case for the additional Divisions at Steps 3 and 4.
Our League Management Committee have made an application to the FA to operate North and South Divisions at Step 6, with a minimum of 16 Clubs in each Division to start it off. We would hope that we would be successful in that process, although we do have to tender to run our own Division/s.
If that tender was to be successful, we would need a minimum of 52 Clubs, up to a maximum of 60 Clubs in total (a maximum 20 Clubs per Division). We currently have 45 Clubs and dependent on the implementation of the above, it would mean we require between 7 to 9 Clubs. Based on enquiries received so far, the League Management Committee believes this is achievable.
As other Step 6 Leagues may be in a similar position with regard to the relegation of Clubs, to reduce to 20 per Division, there may be room for lateral movement from those Leagues to the new North West North & South Step 6 Divisions. This is in addition to interest that has been expressed by several Step 7 Clubs from our current Feeder Leagues.
There will obviously be further updates with regard to this matter as the season progresses, and these will be issued when information is made available.