|Other club(s) from||Guernsey|
|Number of teams||81|
|Level on pyramid||7–8|
|Promotion to||National League South|
|International cup(s)|| Europa League |
(via FA Cup)
|Current champions||None (season abandoned)|
|Current: 2020–21 Isthmian League|
The Isthmian League ( /( ) / ) is a regional men's football league covering Greater London, East and South East England, featuring mostly semi-professional clubs.
It was founded in 1905 by amateur clubs in the London area. It now consists of 81 teams in four divisions; the Premier Division above its three feeder divisions, the North, South Central and South East divisions.
Together with the Southern League and the Northern Premier League, it forms the seventh and eighth levels of the English football league system. It has various regional feeder leagues and the league as a whole is a feeder league mainly to the National League South.
Before the Isthmian League was formed, there were no leagues in which amateur football clubs could compete, only knock-out cup competitions. Therefore, a meeting took place between representatives of Casuals, Civil Service, Clapton, Ealing Association, Ilford and London Caledonians to discuss the creation of a strong amateur league. All the clubs supported the idea and the Isthmian League was born on 8 March 1905. Membership to the league was through invitation only. The league was very strongly dedicated to the cause of amateurism in sport; consequently, the champions of the league did not even receive a trophy or medals; the league's Latin motto was honor sufficit ('honour is sufficient').
Thus, those clubs less able to compete financially gravitated to it rather than to the Southern League, which attracted clubs with ambition and money. Although the Isthmian League established itself as one of the strongest amateur leagues in the country, routinely providing the winners of the FA Amateur Cup, it was still regarded as being at a lower level than the Southern League, which had developed into the top regional semi-professional league. By 1922 the Isthmian League had fourteen clubs and over the next five decades, only a few new members were admitted, mainly to fill vacancies left by clubs leaving the league. Most new Isthmian League members joined from the Athenian League, which was similarly dedicated to amateurism.
The Isthmian League was most likely named after the ancient Isthmian Games, with the later Athenian League, Corinthian League, Delphian League, Spartan League, Parthenon League and Aetolian League all adding a Classical Greek flavour to amateur football competition. In 1962 an 'all-star' team from the Isthmian League entered the 1962 Ugandan Independence Tournament, drawing both their games versus Kenya and Ghana.
The league finally began to permit professionalism in the mid 1970s when the Football Association abolished the long-standing distinction between amateur and professional status with effect from the 1974–75 season. A second division of sixteen clubs was formed in 1973 and a third division followed in 1977. However, the league still remained officious and refused to participate in the formation of the Alliance Premier League in 1979 and whilst two Isthmian clubs, Enfield and Dagenham, defected to the APL in 1981, it was not until 1985 that the Isthmian League champions were given a promotion place to the newly renamed Football Conference. The reward of promotion into the Conference means that, since 1985, no team has won the league champions title two seasons in succession (as had happened on 22 occasions previously). The Athenian League disbanded in 1984 when the Isthmian League Second Division split into North and South Divisions. These were restructured yet again to Second and Third Divisions in 1991.
In 2002, the league was restructured once more, with the First and Second Divisions merging to become Division One North and Division One South (later renamed simply the North and South divisions), and the Third Division being renamed as Division Two. In addition, the league's three feeder leagues—the Combined Counties League, Essex Senior League and Spartan South Midlands League—ran in parallel with Division Two, and were able to feed directly into the regional Division Ones.
In 2004, The Football Association pushed through a major restructuring of the entire national non-league National League System, creating new regional divisions of the Football Conference feeding into the top, national, level. As a consequence of this restructuring, the Isthmian League was reduced back down to three divisions, and its boundaries were changed to remove the overlap with the Southern League.
In 2006, further reorganisation saw a reversion to two regional Division Ones and the disbandment of Division Two. This current plan calls for clubs based on the edges of the Isthmian League's territory to transfer to and from the Southern League as necessary to maintain numerical balance between the leagues. One team, Clapton, who were ever present in the Isthmian League since its foundation, were moved to the Essex Senior League for the 2006–07 season. Dulwich Hamlet, who had joined the league in 1907, became its longest serving member until their promotion to the National League South for the 2018–19 season.
In May 2017, The FA chose the Isthmian League to add a third regional division at Step 4 as part of further restructuring in the National League System, reducing all divisions at Step 4 to 20 teams. The new division started play in the 2018–19 season.
South Central Division
South East Division
|1914–19||Not held due to World War I|
|1923–24||St Albans City|
|1926–27||St Albans City|
|1927–28||St Albans City|
|1939–45||Not held World War II|
|1957–58||Tooting & Mitcham United|
|1959–60||Tooting & Mitcham United|
For the 1973–74 season, Division Two was added.
|Season||Division One||Division Two|
|1974–75||Wycombe Wanderers||Staines Town|
For the 1977–78 season, Division One was renamed the Premier Division, Division Two was renamed Division One and new Division Two was added.
|Season||Premier Division||Division One||Division Two|
|1977–78||Enfield||Dulwich Hamlet||Epsom & Ewell|
|1978–79||Barking||Harrow Borough||Farnborough Town|
|1980–81||Slough Town||Bishop's Stortford||Feltham|
|1981–82||Leytonstone & Ilford||Wokingham Town||Worthing|
|1983–84||Harrow Borough||Windsor & Eton||Basildon United|
For the 1984–85 season, Division Two was reorganised into North and South regions.
|Season||Premier Division||Division One||Division Two North||Division Two South|
|1984–85||Sutton United||Farnborough Town||Leyton Wingate||Grays Athletic|
|1985–86||Sutton United||St Albans City||Stevenage Borough||Southwick|
|1986–87||Wycombe Wanderers||Leytonstone/Ilford||Chesham United||Woking|
|1987–88||Yeovil Town||Marlow||Wivenhoe Town||Chalfont St Peter|
|1988–89||Leytonstone/Ilford||Staines Town||Harlow Town||Dorking|
|1989–90||Slough Town||Wivenhoe Town||Heybridge Swifts||Yeading|
|1990–91||Redbridge Forest||Chesham United||Stevenage Borough||Abingdon Town|
For the 1991–92 season, regional divisions Two were merged and Division Three was added.
|Season||Premier Division||Division One||Division Two||Division Three|
|1991–92||Woking||Stevenage Borough||Purfleet||Edgware Town|
|1992–93||Chesham United||Hitchin Town||Worthing||Aldershot Town|
|1993–94||Stevenage Borough||Bishop's Stortford||Newbury Town||Bracknell Town|
|1994–95||Enfield||Boreham Wood||Thame United||Collier Row|
|1995–96||Hayes||Oxford City||Canvey Island||Horsham|
|1996–97||Yeovil Town||Chesham United||Collier Row & Romford||Wealdstone|
|1997–98||Kingstonian||Aldershot Town||Canvey Island||Hemel Hempstead Town|
|1998–99||Sutton United||Canvey Island||Bedford Town||Ford United|
|1999–2000||Dagenham & Redbridge||Croydon||Hemel Hempstead Town||East Thurrock United|
|2000–01||Farnborough Town||Boreham Wood||Tooting & Mitcham United||Arlesey Town|
|2001–02||Gravesend & Northfleet||Ford United||Lewes||Croydon Athletic|
At the end of the 1994–95 season, Enfield were denied promotion to the Conference. Their place was taken by Slough Town who finished as runners-up.
For the 2002–03 season, Division One was reorganised into North and South regions and Division Three was disbanded.
|Season||Premier Division||Division One North||Division One South||Division Two|
|2002–03||Aldershot Town||Northwood||Carshalton Athletic||Cheshunt|
|2003–04||Canvey Island||Yeading||Lewes||Leighton Town|
For the 2004–05 season Division Ones North and South were merged.
|Season||Premier Division||Division One||Division Two|
For the 2006–07 season, Division One was reorganised into North and South regions and Division Two was disbanded.
|Season||Premier Division||North Division||South Division|
|2006–07||Hampton & Richmond Borough||AFC Hornchurch||Maidstone United|
|2007–08||Chelmsford City||Dartford||Dover Athletic|
|2009–10||Dartford||Lowestoft Town||Croydon Athletic|
|2010–11||Sutton United||East Thurrock United||Metropolitan Police|
|2012–13||Whitehawk||Grays Athletic||Dulwich Hamlet|
|2013–14||Wealdstone||VCD Athletic||Peacehaven & Telscombe|
|2014–15||Maidstone United||Needham Market||Burgess Hill Town|
|2015–16||Hampton & Richmond Borough||AFC Sudbury||Folkestone Invicta|
|2016–17||Havant & Waterlooville||Brightlingsea Regent||Tooting & Mitcham United|
|2017–18||Billericay Town||AFC Hornchurch||Carshalton Athletic|
For the 2018–19 season, the South Division was reorganised into South Central and South East divisions.
|Season||Premier Division||North Division||South Central Division||South East Division|
|2018–19||Dorking Wanderers||Bowers & Pitsea||Hayes & Yeading United||Cray Wanderers|
|2019–20 1||Worthing||Maldon & Tiptree||Ware||Hastings United|
|2020–21 2||Worthing||Tilbury||Waltham Abbey||Hastings United|
1 The 2019–20 season was terminated on 26 March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; the teams listed here were in first place in the standings at the time of the termination, but were not recognised as champions.
2 The 2020–21 season was also terminated on 24 February 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic; the teams listed here were in first place in the standings at the time of the termination, but were not recognised as champions.
The Isthmian League was the first league to have sponsorship, having been selected by Rothmans, who sponsored the league from 1973 to 1977. The company offered prize money for position in the league but money was deducted for bookings. Thus the money encouraged both more goals and fair play. The sponsors after Rothmans to the present day have been: Michael Lawrie (1977–78), Berger (1978–82), Servowarm (1982–85), Vauxhall-Opel (1985–90), Vauxhall (1990–91), Diadora (1991–95), ICIS (1995–97), Ryman (1997–2017),Bostik (2017–19) and BetVictor (2019–20). Entain's Pitching In was announced as the next sponsor for 2020–21. At the time of announcement, Entain went by its former name GVC Holdings. Under this partnership, Isthmian is marketed as one of the three Trident Leagues, alongside the Northern Premier and Southern leagues.
Ryman also sponsored the Isthmian Youth League and Isthmian Development League upon their creations in 2007 and 2013 respectively.Ryman chairman Theo Paphitis added to his league sponsorship through his flagship companies. Robert Dyas became sponsors of the Isthmian League Cup, Isthmian Veterans Cup, Isthmian Disability Cup and Isthmian Youth Play-off Cup in 2014, and Boux Avenue sponsored the Isthmian Women's Cup from 2014 to 2017.
Becoming the longest running sports sponsorship in UK football, Ryman stepped down as sponsors at the end of the 2016–17 season after 20 years.
The Alan Turvey Trophy, formerly the Isthmian League Cup, has run since 1975 and involves all Isthmian League teams.
The Combined Counties Football League is a regional men's football league with members in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Jersey, Kent, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and the western half and south-eastern quarter of Greater London featuring mostly semi-professional clubs. It is sponsored by Cherry Red Records, and therefore officially known as the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties Football League.
The Northern Premier League is an English football league that was founded in 1968. It has four divisions: the Premier Division, Division One East, Division One West and Division One Midlands.
The Northern League is a men's football league in north east England for semi-professional and amateur teams. Having been founded in 1889, it is the second-oldest football league in the world still in existence after the English Football League.
The Southern League is a men's football competition featuring semi-professional clubs from the South and Midlands of England. Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system.
Hendon Football Club is a semi-professional football club based in Kingsbury in the London Borough of Brent. They are currently members of the Southern League Premier Division South and play at Silver Jubilee Park in Kingsbury.
Grays Athletic Football Club is a football club based in Grays, Essex, England. They are currently members of the Isthmian League North Division and play at Parkside in nearby Aveley.
Croydon Football Club is an English semi-professional football club based in Croydon, London. Until 2006, they played in the Isthmian League, but lost their place in that league as part of the 2006 re-structuring of non-league football, and now play in the Southern Counties East League Division One. They play at Croydon Sports Arena in South Norwood. The club was founded in 1953 as Croydon Amateurs.
Chesham United Football Club is a semi-professional football club in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England. Nicknamed "the Generals", they are currently members of the Southern League Premier Division South and play at the Meadow.
Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club is a semi-professional football club based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England. Affiliated to the Hertfordshire County Football Association, they are currently members of the National League South, the sixth tier of English football, and play at Vauxhall Road.
Tilbury Football Club is a football club based in Tilbury, Thurrock, England. They are currently members of the Isthmian League North Division and play at Chadfields.
Epsom & Ewell Football Club is a football club based in Epsom, Surrey, England. Affiliated to the Surrey County Football Association, the club are currently members of the Southern Combination Division One and groundshare at Leatherhead's Fetcham Grove. The club have played outside Epsom since leaving their West Street Ground in 1993.
Hertford Town Football Club is a football club based in Hertford, Hertfordshire, England. They are currently members of the Southern League Division One Central and play at Hertingfordbury Park.
For more information on the current structure of the NLS, see the main article.
The 2006–07 season was the 104th in the history of the Southern League, which is an English football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from the South West, South Central and Midlands of England and South Wales. This season was the first to feature the new Division One sections after reform of the Isthmian League structure.
The 2010–11 season was the 96th season of the Isthmian League, which is an English football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from London, East and South East England.
The 2011–12 season was the 97th season of the Isthmian League, which is an English football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from London, East and South East England. The league allocations were released on 20 May 2011.
The 2012–13 season was the 98th season of the Isthmian League, which is an English football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from London, East and South East England.
The 2015–16 season is the 101st season of the Isthmian League, which is an English football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from London, East and South East England. Also, it is the tenth season for the current incarnations of the Division One North and Division One South.
The 2017–18 season was the 103rd season of the Isthmian League, which is an English football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from London, East and South East England. It was also the twelfth season for the current incarnations of the Premier, North and South Divisions, the last to have two regional divisions, and the first as the Bostik League following a sponsorship deal with Bostik.
The 2018–19 season is the 104th season of the Isthmian League, which is an English football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from London, East and South East England. This is also the first season to consist of four divisions after the league reorganised the former South Division into the new South Central and South East divisions. The league is also known as the Bostik League under a sponsorship deal with Bostik.
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