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The English Football League system explained for beginners

Macauley Bonne English Football League

Watching football can be a superb experience and since it’s introduction to the world, English football and the English Football League has grown to be the best!

Why? Because it is so well organized, competitive and is part oof the best football system ever. This system is made up of several leagues, each with numerous and famous old clubs. However, the number of clubs joining these leagues varies every season. Some are promoted, while others are relegated according to their performances in the various leagues. Moreover, the competitive nature of this system has encouraged numerous clubs from multiple divisions to join the leagues in England below the English Football League with a total of almost 140 leagues in the system.

There are a lot more things and terms to know about football that you can learn about – for example, the “Golden Goal”. This kind of special goal has even inspired some bookmakers to have special promotions related to the rule for deciding big matches that are still drawn heading into extra-time. For example, check the William Hill golden goal promo. If you are a betting fan it might be well worth a look and a try.

About the system

The system is made up of several leagues, with each one promoting and relegating varying numbers of clubs on their performances. For Instance, all those clubs who’ve done well in their leagues earn promotions to join higher leagues, while those who’ve performed poorly in the same league, are relegated to join the leagues below. However, the number of clubs promoted in various leagues and divisions varies because some individual leagues are made up of more clubs than others. Promotions are also only valid after the clubs have agreed to meet the laws set by the higher leagues they are entering, for example in finance and facilities for players.

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Sometimes, you will find individual leagues having more than one division. The reasons are simple. The formation of various leagues are often based on geographical location and the population of the areas they cover. However, in certain circumstances, you will be able to see some clubs playing in leagues in some parts of the country. Still, they are not members of the system even though their county associations only recognize them. Various reasons might prevent clubs from joining the system, and yet they are still in the same country.

One of the reasons is that on some occasions a club fails to come to a formal agreement on the criteria set by a particular league. However, the same club may still join the system by applying for a chance to play in the area’s other leagues and cup competitions after meeting all the required standards of play.

The structure

The system is made up of a desirable structure. The Premier League, established in 1992, is the highest level. It is made up of 20 clubs, with each usually having one coach/manager and at least one assistant. The English Football League comes immediately below the Premier League and is made up of three divisions. They are: The Championship, League One, and finally, League Two.

Each of the named divisions is made of up of 24 full-time professional clubs. All the clubs in these divisions are generally known as Football League or EFL clubs. The reason behind the name? Initially, the Football League had 92 clubs in all its four divisions. All clubs formed outside the Premier and Football League are known as Non-League clubs and they have their league and cup competitions which are run on similar lines to the Premier League.

The Football Conference is top-level in Non-league and is known as the National League. It is made up of the National Division with 24 clubs. Below it, there are two divisions, National  League North and National League South, each having 22 clubs. A large percentage of the National League clubs are all day professionals, similar to those in the Premier League, while others are still semi-professionals.

Immediately after the Football Conference come three regional leagues, including the Northern Premier League covering northern England Wales. There is also the Southern Football League covering southern England, the south west and south Wales and the Isthmian League in the south east of England linking up these different geographical areas. All the leagues at level nine have a large number of leagues below them from different geographical area who also have different divisional set-ups.

Promotion and relegation rules in the system

1. The Premier League

The premier league consists of 20 teams. There are no promotions with this league at the top level but the first four clubs are given a chance to participate in the UEFA Champions League. The last three teams performing the poorest are relegated to join the Championship League.

2. The English Football League, The Championship

-The championship league which is made up of 24 teams, only three groups are promoted. The top two teams are promoted to join the Premier and those from position four to seven go for playoffs, and whoever emerges as a winner becomes the third one to receive promotions. The last three teams that performed poorly are relegated to join league one.

3. The English Football League, Football League One

Like the Championship, Football League One consists of 24 teams and the top two receive a direct promotion to the Championship. Those in finishing positions three to seven go into the play-offs with the eventual winner taking the third and final promotion spot on offer. The last three teams in the league sink down the system to join League Two.

4.The English Football League, The Football League Two

League Two, which is the fourth level, consists of 24 teams of which the top three teams receive direct promotions to League One and one goes up via the play-offs. Those in positions four to seven contest the play-offs and whoever emerges as the winner automatically gain the fourth promotion. The bottom two teams are relegated to the National League.

5. The National League

The National League consists of 24 teams but there are only two promotions with the champions directly promoted to join League Two. Those teams in position two to five go into play-offs and whoever wins, also wins promotion. All four bottom clubs are relegated to join either National League North or National League South.

6. The National League North and South

These are parallel divisions with each consisting of 22 teams. Like the National League, the champions from each division are promoted to join the higher league, while those teams in position two to five in each division go into play-offs. The winners earn an opportunity of promotion to join the National League. The bottom three teams in each division are relegated to join either the Northern Premier League, Isthmian League or the Southern League.

Cup eligibility

Each member from every league is eligible to compete in various cups, depending on the levels they are playing at. Below are some of the cups contested at different levels.

[1] The FA Cup – Competed in by teams from level one to level 10.

[ii] The Football League Cup – Teams from level one to four.

[iii] The Football League Trophy- Teams from level three to level four.

[iv] The Conference League Cup – Teams from level five to level six.

[v] The FA Trophy – Teams from level five to level eight.

Frequently asked questions

1. How many tiers of English football are there?

There are 11 main tiers that are officially recognized and play under the auspices of the Football Association. The Premier League has 20 clubs that play a total of 38 matches each. The bottom three after these games are relegated to lower leagues.

2. How do football clubs make money?

Football Clubs raise their money in different ways, often by selling players to other football clubs. Also, they make money through selling their jerseys to their fans, TV money and by selling tickets for matches to fans.

3. How did English football start?

English football was invented in England in the mid-19th Century when it was referred to as a game of running around while kicking a ball. The Chinese also played, similarly describing it as a game of playing with a ball using your feet.

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