National League (division)

Last updated
National League
Founded1979 (as Alliance Premier League)
CountryEngland (22 teams)
Other club(s) fromWales (1 team)
Number of teams23
Level on pyramid5
Step 1 (National League System)
Promotion to EFL League Two
Relegation to National League North
National League South
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
FA Trophy
League cup(s) Conference League Cup
(1979–2001, 2004–05, 2007–09)
International cup(s) Scottish Challenge Cup (invitational)
Europa League (via FA Cup)
Current champions Sutton United
(2020–21)
Most championships Barnet and Macclesfield Town (3 titles)
TV partners BT Sport (live)
FreeSports (highlights)
Website National League
Current: 2020–21 National League

The National League, known as the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons [1] and non-League, is the highest level of the National League System and fifth-highest of the overall English football league system. While all of the clubs in the top four divisions of English football are professional, the National League has a mixture of professional and semi-professional clubs. The National League is the lowest division in the English football pyramid organised on a nationwide basis. Formerly the Conference National, the league was renamed the National League from the 2015–16 season. [2]

Contents

History

The league was formed as the Alliance Premier League in 1979, coming into force for the 1979–80 season. The league drew its clubs from the Northern League and the Southern League.

It greatly improved the quality of football at this lower level, as well as improving the financial status of the top clubs. This was reflected in 1986–87, when the Football League began accepting direct promotion and relegation between the Conference and the bottom division of the Football League, which at that time was known as the Football League Fourth Division and is now EFL League Two. The first team to be promoted by this method was Scarborough, and the first team relegated was Lincoln City, who regained their Football League status a year later as Conference champions.

Since 2002–03, the league has been granted a second promotion place, with a play-off deciding who joins the champions in League Two. Previously, no promotion from the Conference would occur if the winners did not have adequate stadium facilities. As of the start of the 2002–03 season, if a club achieves the automatic promotion or the play-off places but does not have an adequate stadium, their place will be re-allocated to the next highest placed club that has the required facilities.

In 2004–05, the Conference increased its size by adding two lower divisions, the Conference North and Conference South respectively, with the original division being renamed Conference National. For the 2006–07 season, the Conference National expanded from 22 to 24 teams by promoting four teams while relegating two teams and introduced a "four up and four down" system between itself and the Conference North and Conference South.

Sponsorship

The league's first sponsor was Gola, which sponsored it during the 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons. When Gola's sponsorship ceased, carmaker Vauxhall Motors—then the British subsidiary of General Motors—took over and sponsored the league until the end of the 1997–98 season.

The 1998–99 Conference campaign began without sponsors for the Conference, but just before the end of the season a sponsorship was agreed with Nationwide Building Society. This lasted until the end of the 2006–07 season, after which Blue Square took over. This would also prompt the leagues being renamed, with the Conference National becoming the Blue Square Premier, the Conference North becoming Blue Square North and the Conference South becoming Blue Square South. [3] In April 2010, Blue Square announced a further three-year sponsorship deal. From the start of the 2010–11 season the divisions were renamed, with the addition of the word "Bet" after "Blue Square".

In July 2013 the Conference agreed a sponsorship deal with online payment firm Skrill. [4] This lasted for only one year and the following July the Conference announced a brand-new three-year deal with Vanarama, [5] later extended by two more years.

In 2015, the Football Conference was renamed the National League. The top division was also officially renamed the National League and the lower divisions renamed as National League North and National League South. In January 2019 the League signed a three-year deal with Motorama, [1] Vanarama's sister company. Because of the new sponsorship, the three divisions will be known as the Motorama National League, Motorama National League North and Motorama National League South.

Media coverage

In August 2006 Setanta Sports signed a five-year deal with the Conference. Under the deal, Setanta Sports started showing live matches in the 2007–08 season, with 79 live matches each season. Included in the deal were the annual play-off matches as well as the Conference League Cup, a cup competition for the three Football Conference divisions. [6] Setanta showed two live matches a week, with one on Thursday evening and one at the weekend. [7] In Australia the Conference National was broadcast by Setanta Sports Australia. Setanta Sports suffered financial problems and ceased broadcasting in the United Kingdom on 23 June 2009. [8] Sky Sports broadcast the Conference play-off final 2010 at Wembley Stadium.

On 19 August 2010, Premier Sports announced that it bought the live and exclusive UK television rights to 30 matches per season from the Conference Premier for a total of three seasons. [9] The 30 matches selected for broadcast included all five Conference Premier play-offs. [10] The deal with the Football Conference was a revenue sharing arrangement whereby clubs received 50% of revenue from subscriptions, on top of the normal rights fee paid by the broadcaster, once the costs of production were met. The Conference also earned 50% from all internet revenue associated with the deal and allow them to retain advertising rights allied to those adverts shown with their matches. During the 2010–11 season, Premier Sports failed to attract enough viewers to its Conference football broadcasts to share any revenue with the clubs beyond the £5,000 broadcast fee paid to home clubs and £1,000 to away clubs.

In July 2013, BT Sport announced a two-year deal to broadcast 30 live games per season including all five play-off matches. [11] In 2015 the National League announced that it renewed a three-year deal with BT Sport. [2]

The following 23 clubs compete in the National League during the 2020–21 season.

England location map.svg
Blue pog.svg
Locations of the 2020–21 National League clubs (Greater London clubs)
ClubFinishing position last season LocationStadiumCapacity
Aldershot Town 18th Aldershot Recreation Ground 7,200
Altrincham 5th in National League North (promoted via play-offs) Altrincham Moss Lane 7,700
Barnet 7th London (Edgware) The Hive Stadium 6,418
Boreham Wood 5th Borehamwood Meadow Park 4,502
Bromley 13thLondon (Bromley) Hayes Lane 5,300
Chesterfield 20th Chesterfield Proact Stadium 10,504
Dagenham & Redbridge 17thLondon (Dagenham) Victoria Road 6,078
Dover Athletic 11th Dover Crabble Athletic Ground 5,745
Eastleigh 16th Eastleigh Ten Acres 5,250
FC Halifax Town 6th Halifax The Shay 14,061
Hartlepool United 12th Hartlepool Victoria Park 7,856
King's Lynn Town 1st in National League North (promoted) King's Lynn The Walks 5,733
Maidenhead United 21st Maidenhead York Road 4,000
Notts County 3rd Nottingham Meadow Lane 19,588
Solihull Moors 9th Solihull Damson Park 3,050
Stockport County 8th Stockport Edgeley Park 10,852
Sutton United 15thLondon (Sutton) Gander Green Lane 5,013
Torquay United 14th Torquay Plainmoor 6,500
Wealdstone 1st in National League South (promoted) London (Ruislip) Grosvenor Vale 3,607
Weymouth 3rd in National League South

(promoted via play-offs)

Weymouth Bob Lucas Stadium 6,600
Woking 10th Woking Kingfield Stadium 6,036
Wrexham 19th Wrexham Racecourse Ground 10,771
Yeovil Town 4th Yeovil Huish Park 9,566

Past winners

Numbers in parentheses indicate wins up to that date.

SeasonWinnerPlayoff Winner
1979–80 Altrincham 1
1980–81 Altrincham 1 (2)
1981–82 Runcorn 1
1982–83 Enfield 1
1983–84 Maidstone United 1
1984–85 Wealdstone 1
1985–86 Enfield 1 (2)
1986–87 Scarborough
1987–88 Lincoln City
1988–89 Maidstone United (2)
1989–90 Darlington
1990–91 Barnet
1991–92 Colchester United
1992–93 Wycombe Wanderers
1993–94 Kidderminster Harriers 2
1994–95 Macclesfield Town 2
1995–96 Stevenage Borough 2
1996–97 Macclesfield Town (2)
1997–98 Halifax Town
1998–99 Cheltenham Town
1999–2000 Kidderminster Harriers (2)
2000–01 Rushden & Diamonds
2001–02 Boston United 3
2002–03 Yeovil Town Doncaster Rovers
2003–04 Chester City Shrewsbury Town
2004–05 Barnet (2) Carlisle United
2005–06 Accrington Stanley Hereford United
2006–07 Dagenham & Redbridge Morecambe
2007–08 Aldershot Town Exeter City
2008–09 Burton Albion Torquay United
2009–10 Stevenage Borough (2) Oxford United
2010–11 Crawley Town AFC Wimbledon
2011–12 Fleetwood Town York City
2012–13 Mansfield Town Newport County
2013–14 Luton Town Cambridge United
2014–15 Barnet (3) Bristol Rovers
2015–16 Cheltenham Town (2) Grimsby Town
2016–17 Lincoln City (2) Forest Green Rovers
2017–18 Macclesfield Town (3) Tranmere Rovers
2018–19 Leyton Orient Salford City
2019–20 4 Barrow Harrogate Town
2020–21 Sutton United Hartlepool United

Play-off results

SeasonPlay-offs eliminator [lower-alpha 1] First Semi-finalSecond Semi-finalFinalFinal Venue
2020–21 Notts County 3–2 Chesterfield

Hartlepool United 3–2 Bromley

Torquay United 4–2 (a.e.t) Notts County Stockport County 0-1 Hartlepool United Torquay United 1-1Hartlepool United

Hartlepool United won 5-4 on penalties (Match Report)

Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol
2019–20 Boreham Wood 2–1 FC Halifax Town

Yeovil Town 0–2 Barnet

Harrogate Town 1–0 Boreham Wood Notts County 2–0 Barnet Harrogate Town 3–1 Notts County

(Match Report)

Wembley Stadium, London
2018–19 AFC Fylde 3–1 Harrogate Town

Wrexham 0–1 (a.e.t) Eastleigh

Solihull Moors 0–1 AFC Fylde Eastleigh 1–1 Salford City
Salford City won 4–3 on penalties
AFC Fylde 0–3 Salford City

(Match Report)

2017–18 Aldershot Town 1–1 Ebbsfleet United (Ebbsfleet United won 5–4 on penalties)

Boreham Wood 2–1 AFC Fylde

Tranmere Rovers 4–2 (a.e.t) Ebbsfleet United Sutton United 2–3 Boreham Wood Tranmere Rovers 2–1 Boreham Wood

(Match Report)

2016–17 N/A Aldershot Town 0–3 Tranmere Rovers

Tranmere Rovers 2–2 Aldershot Town Tranmere Rovers won 5–2 on aggregate

Dagenham & Redbridge 1–1 Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers 2–0 Dagenham & Redbridge Forest Green Rovers won 3–1 on aggregate

Tranmere Rovers 1–3 Forest Green Rovers

(Match Report)

2015–16 Dover Athletic 0–1 Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers 1–1 Dover Athletic Forest Green Rovers won 2–1 on aggregate

Grimsby Town 0–1 Braintree Town

Braintree Town 0–2 Grimsby Town

Grimsby Town won 2–1 on aggregate

Forest Green Rovers 1–3 Grimsby Town

(Match Report)

2014–15 Forest Green Rovers 0–1 Bristol Rovers

Bristol Rovers 2–0 Forest Green Rovers Bristol Rovers won 3–0 on aggregate

Eastleigh 1–2 Grimsby Town

Grimsby Town 3–0 Eastleigh Grimsby Town won 5–1 on aggregate

Bristol Rovers 1–1 Grimsby Town
Bristol Rovers won 5–3 on penalties
(Match Report)
2013–14 FC Halifax Town 1–0 Cambridge United

Cambridge United 2–0 FC Halifax Town

Cambridge United won 2–1 on aggregate

Grimsby Town 1–1 Gateshead

Gateshead 3–1 Grimsby Town

Gateshead won 4–2 on aggregate

Cambridge United 2–1 Gateshead

(Match Report)

2012–13 Wrexham 2–1 Kidderminster Harriers

Kidderminster Harriers 1–3 Wrexham

Wrexham won 5–2 on aggregate

Grimsby Town 0–1 Newport County

Newport County 1–0 Grimsby Town

Newport County won 2–0 on aggregate

Wrexham 0–2 Newport County

(Match Report)

2011–12 Luton Town 2–0 Wrexham

Wrexham 2–1 Luton Town

Luton Town won 3–2 on aggregate

York City 1–1 Mansfield Town

Mansfield Town 0–1 York City

York City won 2–1 on aggregate

Luton Town 1–2 York City

(Match Report)

2010–11 Fleetwood Town 0–2 AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon 6–1 Fleetwood Town

AFC Wimbledon won 8–1 on aggregate

Wrexham 0–3 Luton Town

Luton Town 2–1 Wrexham

Luton Town won 5–1 on aggregate

AFC Wimbledon 0–0 Luton Town
AFC Wimbledon won 4–3 on penalties
(Match Report)
City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester
2009–10 Luton Town 0–1 York City

York City 1–0 Luton Town

York City won 2–0 on aggregate

Oxford United 2–0 Rushden & Diamonds

Rushden & Diamonds 1–1 Oxford United

Oxford United won 3–1 on aggregate

Oxford United 3–1 York City

(Match Report)

Wembley Stadium, London
2008–09 Stevenage Borough 3–1 Cambridge United

Cambridge United 3–0 Stevenage Borough

Cambridge United won 4–3 on aggregate

Torquay United 2–0 Histon

Histon 1–0 Torquay United

Torquay United won 2–1 on aggregate

Cambridge United 0–2 Torquay United

(Match Report)

2007–08 Burton Albion 2–2 Cambridge United

Cambridge United 2–1 Burton Albion

Cambridge United won 4–3 on aggregate

Exeter City 1–2 Torquay United

Torquay United 1–4 Exeter City

Exeter City won 5–3 on aggregate

Cambridge United 0–1 Exeter City

(Match Report)

2006–07 Exeter City 0–1 Oxford United

Oxford United 1–2 Exeter City
2–2 draw on aggregate

Exeter won 4–3 on penalties

York City 0–0 Morecambe

Morecambe 2–1 York City

Morecambe won 2–1 on aggregate

Morecambe 2–1 Exeter City

(Match Report)

2005–06 Halifax Town 3–2 Grays Athletic

Grays Athletic 2–2 Halifax Town

Halifax Town won 5–4 on aggregate

Morecambe 1–1 Hereford United

Hereford United 3–2 Morecambe

Hereford United won 4–3 on aggregate

Hereford United 3–2 Halifax Town
after extra time
(Match Report)
Walkers Stadium, Leicester
2004–05 Aldershot Town 1–0 Carlisle United

Carlisle United 2–1 Aldershot Town
2–2 draw on aggregate

Carlisle won 5–4 on penalties

Stevenage Borough 1–1 Hereford United

Hereford United 0–1 Stevenage Borough

Stevenage Borough won 2–1 on aggregate

Carlisle United 1–0 Stevenage Borough

(Match Report)

Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
2003–04 Aldershot Town 1–1 Hereford United

Hereford United 0–0 Aldershot Town
1–1 draw on aggregate

Aldershot won 4–2 on penalties

Barnet 2–1 Shrewsbury Town

Shrewsbury Town 1–0 Barnet
2–2 draw on aggregate

Shrewsbury won 5–3 on penalties

Aldershot Town 1–1 Shrewsbury Town
Shrewsbury won 3–0 on penalties
(Match Report)
2002–03 Dagenham & Redbridge 2–1 Morecambe

Morecambe 2–1 Dagenham & Redbridge
2–2 draw on aggregate

Dagenham won 3–2 on penalties

Doncaster Rovers 1–1 Chester City

Chester City 1–1 Doncaster Rovers
2–2 draw on aggregate

Doncaster won 4–3 on penalties

Doncaster Rovers 3–2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Doncaster won with a golden goal
(Match Report)
  1. Play-Offs eliminator round was first introduced for 2017–18 season

Records

Related Research Articles

The National League is an association football league in England consisting of three divisions, the National League, National League North, and National League South. It was called the "Alliance Premier League" from 1979 until 1986. Between 1986 and 2015, the league was known as the "Football Conference".

The National League North, formerly Conference North, is a division of the National League in England, taking its place immediately below the top division National League. Along with the National League South, it is at Step 2 of the National League System and the sixth overall tier of the English football league system. It consists of teams located in Northern England, Norfolk and the English Midlands. Since the start of the 2015–16 season, the league has been known as the National League North. As part of a sponsorship deal with Vanarama, the National League North was renamed the Vanarama National League North.

National League South English sixth-tier football league

The National League South, formerly Conference South, is one of the second divisions of the National League in England, immediately below the top division National League. Along with National League North, it is at the second level of the National League System, and at the sixth tier overall of the English football league system.

South African Premier Division Football league

The South African Premier Division, officially referred to as the DStv Premiership for sponsorship reasons, is a South African men's professional football league and the highest division of South African football league system. As the division is the top level of association football in South Africa, it is sometimes commonly referred to as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) – the name of the country's administrator of professional football.

EFL Championship Second tier of the football pyramid of professional football league in England

The English Football League Championship is the highest division of the English Football League (EFL) and second-highest overall in the English football league system after the Premier League. The league is contested by 24 clubs. Each season, the two top-finishing teams in the Championship are automatically promoted to the Premier League. The teams that finish the season in 3rd to 6th place enter a playoff tournament, with the winner also gaining promotion to the Premier League. The three lowest-finishing teams in the Championship are relegated to League One.

The Football Conference consists of the top two levels of Non-League football in England. The Conference Premier is the fifth highest level of the overall pyramid, whilst the Conference North and Conference South exist at the sixth level. The top team and the winner of the playoff of the National division will be promoted to Football League Two, while the bottom four will be relegated to the North or South divisions. The champions of the North and South divisions will be promoted to the National division, alongside the play-off winners from each division. The bottom three in each of the North and South divisions will be relegated to the premier divisions of the Northern Premier League, Isthmian League or Southern League For sponsorship reasons, the league is frequently referred to as the Blue Square Premier.

English Football League League competition featuring professional association football clubs from England and Wales

The English Football League (EFL) is a league competition featuring professional association football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football. It was the top-level football league in England from its foundation until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League.

The 2004–05 season was the 26th season of the Football Conference, and the 1st season following its expansion from one division to three divisions.

The 2008–09 Football Conference season was the fifth season with the Conference consisting of three divisions, and the thirtieth season overall. The Conference covers the top two levels of Non-League football in England. The Conference Premier is the fifth highest level of the overall pyramid, whilst the Conference North and Conference South exist at the sixth level. The top team and the winner of the playoff of the National division were promoted to Football League Two, while the bottom four were relegated to the North or South divisions. The champions of the North and South divisions were promoted to the National division, alongside the play-off winners from each division. The bottom three in each of the North and South divisions were relegated to the premier divisions of the Northern Premier League, Isthmian League or Southern League. For sponsorship reasons, the Conference Premier is frequently referred to as the Blue Square Premier.

The 2009–10 season was the 42nd season for the Northern Premier League Premier Division, and the third season for the Northern Premier League Division One North and South.

The 2010–11 Football Conference season was the seventh season with the Conference consisting of three divisions and the thirty-second season overall. The Conference covers the top two levels of Non-League football in England. The Conference Premier is the fifth highest level of the overall pyramid, whilst the Conference North and Conference South exist at the sixth level. The top team and the winner of the play-off of the National division were promoted to Football League Two, while the bottom four were relegated to the North or South divisions. The champions of the North and South divisions were promoted to the National division, alongside the play-off winners from each division. The bottom three in each of the North and South divisions were relegated to the premier divisions of the Northern Premier League, Isthmian League or Southern League.

The 2011–12 Football League was the 113th season of the Football League. It began in August 2011 and concluded in May 2012, with the promotion play-off finals. The Football League is contested through three Divisions. The divisions are the Championship, League One and League Two. The winner and the runner up of the League Championship are automatically promoted to the Premier League and they are joined by the winner of the Championship playoff. The bottom two teams in League Two are relegated to the Conference Premier.

The 2015–16 National League season was the first season under the new title of National League, the twelfth season consisting of three divisions and the thirty-seventh season overall.

The 2017–18 National League season, known as the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons, is the third season under English football's new title of National League, fourteenth season consisting of three divisions and the thirty-ninth season overall.

The 2017–18 season was the 115th in the history of the Southern League since its establishment in 1894. It was also the last to have a single Premier Division. From the 2014–15 season onwards, the Southern League is known as Evo-Stik League Southern, following a sponsorship deal with Evo-Stik.

The 2018–19 National League season, known as the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons, was the fourth season under English football's new title of National League, fifteenth season consisting of three divisions and the fortieth season overall.

The 2019–20 National League season, known as the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons, was the fifth season under English football's new title of National League, the sixteenth season consisting of three divisions, and the forty-first season overall.

The 2020–21 National League season, known as the Vanarama National League for sponsorship reasons, is the sixth season under English football's new title of the National League, the eighteenth season consisting of three divisions, and the forty-second season overall.

References

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