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The Non-League Football Paper

National League clubs will have their say on “trailblazing” new play-off proposals

THE National League have put a proposal forward to its member clubs which would see six teams compete in the competition’s play-offs starting from next season.

Currently just the champions gain automatic promotion to the Football League and places second to fifth compete in the play-offs.

However, the National League are looking to shake things up with new proposals which came about from the “Growing the Game” strategy last year.

Under the new plans, all play-off matches would be played as one-off games, getting rid of the current two-leg system used for the semi-finals.

Clubs finishing second and third would get a bye into the semis, where they would host the winners of fourth against seventh and fifth against sixth.

The new format would include the same amount of play-off matches as there are currently, with the National League final remaining at Wembley.

The same system would be used in the National League North and South with their finals to be played at a “club ground”.

All National League clubs will be asked to give their opinion on the “trailblazing” plans at the Annual General Meeting on June 10.

National League chief executive Michael Tattersall said: “The benefits of these changes are attractive. Single legs should produce compelling ‘do or die’ live matches for attending fans and those watching on television.

“With six clubs, more clubs will qualify, which will increase interest in both the play-offs and the season run-in. With significant advantages for finishing higher in the play-off zone, the new format will also reward clubs with better league results and keep clubs incentivised in the final rounds of the season.

“Whilst there is always a healthy debate about the fairness of any end of season competition, the popularity of play-offs is undoubted.

“The National League has followed in the footsteps of others since the rebirth of play-offs in the football Pyramid 30 years ago. With our clubs’ support, the Vanarama National League will be trailblazing new ground next season. Our aim is simply to achieve the best way of determining the second promotion place in each of our divisions.”

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