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Non-League restructuring: It’s all change with a 2020 vision

Non-League Restructuring

See The NLP’s sit down with the Football Association here.

Super play-offs at Step 3 will be removed next season with the National League North and South set to increase to 24 teams from 2020-21 – while Steps 5, 6 and 7 are also in line for a revamp.

Following this season’s introduction of a fourth division at Step 3 and a seventh at Step 4, the Football Association is now into the second phase of their National League System restructure designed to create a pure Pyramid. An eighth Step 4 division will be set up in the north of the country from 2020-21.

In an exclusive round table interview, the FA have explained to The NLP further changes, which will see this year’s controversial ‘Super Play-offs’ at Step 3 and the unlucky winners’ scenario at Step 4 consigned to just one season.

As it stands, the champions of the Isthmian Premier, Southern League Premier South, Southern League Premier Central and the Northern Premier League Premier will be promoted to Step 2.

The winners of each division’s play-offs will then face off in two finals to determine two more promoted teams to fill the six gaps left at Step 2 by relegation.

But next season all eight will be promoted with just the bottom two relegated from each Step 2 division to create leagues of 24 teams from 2020-21, where four will be relegated per campaign.

National League clubs were informed in January of the plan to increase the number of promotion spots at Step 3 from six to eight. Clubs were surveyed on their preference of the number of teams in the Step 2 divisions (22 or 24) and the majority went with 24.

Meanwhile, the current transition season means two of the Step 4 play-off winners will miss out on promotion on Points Per Game.

See The NLP’s sit down with the Football Association here.

However, next year 14 clubs will be promoted – seven champions and seven play-off winners – with the bottom two of each Step 3 division relegated and a further two third from bottom sides dropping down on PPG.

To create the numbers for the new Step 4 division, the 14 Step 5 league champions will be promoted along with the second and third place clubs in the Northern League, North West Counties, and Northern Counties East.

A further four, based on PPG, of the other 11 leagues’ second-placed clubs will go up before the remaining seven runners-up play-off against the bottom clubs in the seven Step 4 divisions.

Hosted by the Step 4 club, the one season only play-off will see the winner take the Step 4 place and the loser will be relegated or stay at Step 5.

From 2020-21, Step 5 will increase from 14 leagues to 16 with the two new divisions in the Midlands and west London/Thames Valley area. Expressions of interest for operation have been issued.

And Step 6 will reduce from 20 divisions to 17 with two in the south-west – one Devon and one Cornwall.

Step 7 is also being aligned with County FAs to become the “pinnacle of county football”. Clubs won’t lose any of the current benefits of playing in the National League System – grants or the FA Vase – and can apply for promotion to Step 6 as usual.

See The NLP’s sit down with the Football Association here.

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