The English National League is a football league association in England that has three different divisions of football. These are the National League, the National League South and the National League North.
Over the years, there have been a number of different names given to the English National League. Between 1979 and 1986 it was known as the Alliance Premier League. From 1986 up to 2015 it was called the Football Conference.
The majority of the clubs that take part in the English National League are completely professional. However, the clubs in the National League South and the National League North are just semi-professional.
A number of the teams that partake in the National League were previously part of the English Football League. This is in comparison to the non-league competitions. In the National League, there are five different divisions. There are the Premier League, the Championship, League 1, League 2 and then there is the National League.
How the League works
The National League is the top of the rankings in the National League System. This is a system that is made up of more than 50 separate leagues under the umbrella of the Football Association (FA). In the higher levels of football above the National League, there are 92 clubs.
In total, there are 24 teams that are in the National League, with 22 teams taking part in the National League North and South competitions. Going into the 2020/2021 season, there will be 24 teams taking part in the National League North and South competitions.
Every club places one another twice per season, once at home and once away. Just like most football league competitions, there are three points awarded to the winning team, one point for those teams who draw and zero points if there is a draw.
The format of the National League
Following the culmination of a given National League season, there will be two teams that earn promotion out of the National League and up to the English Football League 2. These National League teams that get promoted will then be replaced by two teams that get relegated from League 2.
The team that finishes at the top of the National League gets automatic promotions. Then there will be a play-off series taking place between the teams that finish from 2nd place to 7th place in the National League standings.
At the bottom of the National League table, the four lowest clubs will be relegated to the National League South or North league. The decision as to which of these leagues a team is relegated to mainly depends on the geography of the club, but it is in the end determined by the NLS Committee.
There will then be four teams promoted up to the National League. Two of those teams will be from the National League South and two teams from the National League North. There is also a play-off series taking place in these lower leagues to determine who gets promoted.
Some clubs at the National League level have financial difficulties, which means that some clubs avoid getting relegated even though they are in the worst positions because some clubs cannot financially continue to operate in the league.
To get promoted to most leagues, there are certain standards required for the facilities and finances of a club for the promotion to be able to proceed. If a club fails to meet these standards then this club may not be allowed to get promoted.
The history of the League
There is an interesting history in the National League due to the large turnover of teams over the years. There are a few clubs that have seen a lot of success in the National League over the years. For example, Macclesfield Town and Barnet have both won the National League title three times. There are seven teams that have won the National League on two occasions.
To date, no team from the National League has made it all of the way to the Premier League. However, before the formation of the Premier League, there were six teams that did compete in the old premier league competition in England.
However, five clubs that played in the National League have made to the English Football Championship. These clubs are Burton Albion, Luton Town, Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and Colchester United.