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The Non-League Football Paper

REVEALED: How the new Step 3 and 4 play-off structure works…

Non-League’s restructuring means ‘Super’ play-offs will be needed at Step 3 next term – while two Step 4 play-off winners also won’t be promoted!

Those are two of the key outcomes following this summer’s Pyramid shake-up, which has seen an extra division added at both levels in an attempt to cut down on travelling.

As usual next term, there will be three clubs relegated from each of National League North and South. That leaves six spaces to fill at Step 2 from the now four feeder divisions instead of three. A new Southern League division has been added.

It means the champions of all the four Step 3 leagues will go up, but there will only be space for two other sides from across the four divisions.

The traditional play-off structure from second to fifth place remains, but the winners won’t be guaranteed promotion. Instead, the four successful teams face a ‘Super’ play-off – two separate ties, decided by the FA Leagues Committee on the most suitable geographical basis.

The matches will be one-leg and played at the side with the best points-per-game ratio during the season. The two winners will be promoted to Step 2.

The extra Bostik League division at Step 4, taking the total to seven, has also complicated things numbers-wise. There will be 12 promotions spots to fill and seven will be taken by the respective champions.

That leaves a handful of places up for grabs – and they will be allocated to five of the seven divisional play-off winners.

The five with the best points-per-game ratio will win promotion from Step 4. It means two sides who win their divisional play-offs will suffer the heartbreak of not going up.

Teams who finish in the lower play-off positions at the end of the regular season but then go on to win them are less likely to go up on the points-per-game ratio basis.

The FA Leagues Committee would ultimately like to have a 1-2-4-8 Pyramid, but until then it is likely there will be anomalies, especially at Step 4 where there are now seven divisions.

 

*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday

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