Football League Fourth Division

Last updated
Football League Fourth Division
Founded1958;65 years ago (1958)
Folded1992;31 years ago (1992)
Country England
Number of teams24
Level on pyramid4
Promotion to Third Division
Relegation to Football Conference (1987–92)
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
League Cup
Football League Trophy
Last champions Burnley
Most championships Doncaster Rovers
Peterborough United
Chesterfield (2 titles each)

The Football League Fourth Division was the fourth-highest division in the English football league system from the 1958–59 season until the creation of the Premier League prior to the 1992–93 season. Following the creation of the Premier League, the fourth tier of English football was renamed the Football League Third Division, before being rebranded as Football League Two in 2004.



The Fourth Division was created in 1958 alongside a new national Third Division by merging the regionalised Third Division North and Third Division South. The original economic reasons for having the two regional leagues had become less apparent [1] and thus it was decided to create two national leagues at levels three and four. The twelve best teams of each regional league in 1957–58 went into the Third Division, and the rest became founder members of the Fourth Division.

Founder members of Fourth Division were:

Before 1987, the top four teams were promoted to the Third Division and the bottom four teams were subject to a re-election vote by other league clubs to determine whether they would remain in the league. Automatic relegation to the Conference was introduced in 1987, the same year the fourth promotion place began to be decided through a play-off.

The highest average league attendance in the Fourth Division was 19,092, achieved by Crystal Palace in the 1960/61 season. The highest attendance at an individual match was recorded the same season: 37,774 for the Good Friday game at Selhurst Park between Crystal Palace and Millwall. [2]

Promotions and relegation

Automatic relegation between the Fourth Division and the Conference was introduced for the 1986–87 season.[ citation needed ]

Elections to the Football League

SeasonOut from Fourth DivisionIn from Regional LeaguesNotes
1959–60 Gateshead Peterborough United Peterborough elected from Midland Football League.
1961–62 Accrington Stanley Oxford United Accrington Stanley went out of business and their record was expunged.
Oxford elected from Southern Football League.
1969–70 Bradford Park Avenue Cambridge United Cambridge elected from Southern Football League.
1971–72 Barrow Hereford United Hereford elected from Southern Football League.
1976–77 Workington Wimbledon Wimbledon elected from Southern Football League.
1977–78 Southport Wigan Athletic Wigan elected from Northern Premier League.

Promotions and relegations from Football Conference

SeasonOut from Fourth DivisionIn from Football ConferenceNotes
1986–87 Lincoln City Scarborough Lincoln relegated to Football Conference.
1987–88 Newport County Lincoln City Newport relegated to Football Conference.
1988–89 Darlington Maidstone United Darlington relegated to Football Conference.
1989–90 Colchester United Darlington Colchester relegated to Football Conference.
1990–91 None Barnet Wrexham finished in bottom place but was not relegated due to expansion of the First Division to 22 clubs (Fourth Division was thus expanded to 23 clubs).
1991–92 Aldershot
Maidstone United
Colchester United Aldershot resigned from the league before the end of the 1991-92 season, while Maidstone resigned before the 1992–93 season started. This returned the number of clubs to 22, which would start the renamed Third Division in August 1992.

Previous League champions

See List of winners of English Football League Two and predecessors.


See Football League Two Play-offs.

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