Ok, last time we looked that the first four tiers of the Football Pyramid and now we’ll continue on down in the Football Pyramid pt 2. Although I stated last time that the first four tier’s were considered to be the ‘professional’ end of the game, this is by no means factually correct. Many clubs in tier 5 are fully professional and even some in tier 6 are as well. This all depends on whether your clubs has what is commonly known as a ‘Sugar Daddy’ chairman, in other words someone who loves the club so much he is willing to subsidise it until such time that they reach a breakeven point in the ‘professional’ ranks. Also there are teams who have the stadia, and can fill it, who are totally professional. Luton spring to mind as a few years back they were a first division club still with the facilities to match.
Tier 5; The Conference National. Currently known as the Blue Square Bet Premier consists of 24 teams with only the champions gaining an automatic promotion while the next four teams enter the play-offs, the winner of which is also promoted. Relegation from this division becomes a bit of a lottery as to which division you’re actually relegated into as tier 6 contains two equal level divisions divided into north and south. This was designed to minimise travel costs but typically those four teams who are relegated do not come from equal geographical areas so this is decided by committee who have the power to move teams horizontally between the North and South divisions. In 2008 Worcester City, based in the midlands, were moved across to the South as three of the four relegated teams from the Premier that year were based in Northern locals. I hope that is clear as mud!
Tier 6; Conference North & South. Currently known as the Blue Square North and Blue Square South consist of 22 teams each, you only play teams in your designated league. Champions are automatically promoted to blue Square Premier as are the winners of the play-offs. The bottom three teams in each league are relegated to either the Northern premier League, Southern Premier league or the Isthmian league as appropriate. Again a committee has the power to equalise the North and South leagues if the number of teams are not equal after promotion and relegation.
Tier 7; Northern Premier League, Southern Premier League or the Isthmian League Premier Division all consist of 22 teams running in parallel. Champions are all automatically promoted as are the play-off winners. The bottom four teams in each league are relegated to a tier 8 league as appropriate and like tier 7 if at the end of the season the leagues are not equal, a committee has the power to transfer teams between the leagues to even them up.
Tier 8; Northern Premier League Division One North, Northern Premier League Division One South, Southern Football League Division One Central, Southern Football League Division One South & West, Isthmian League Division One North and Isthmian League Division One South. Exactly the same as the tier 7 leagues, all consist of 22 teams running in parallel with the champions of each gaining promotion along with the winners of their respective playoffs. The bottom two teams in each league are relegated down to a tier 9 league as appropriate. Teams can be transferred by committee if the divisions are not equal after promotion and relegation.
Tiers 5 & 6 are eligible to enter into the Conference League Cup and along with tiers 7 & 8 compete for the FA Trophy. Lower down tier 9 through to 11 compete for the FA Vase and below that there are many Inter league Cups. Below tier 11 the structure takes a regional flavour for both league and a cup, going on further down it becomes structured at county then district level. So there’s a little look into the structure of football in England. Promotion is not automatically granted. You do have to fulfil certain financial and stadia criteria those these rules are usually in place before you join the league you end up winning!