h1

Analysis Of Movement Between League & Non-League

Wed, 22 April 2009

The term “non-league” doesn’t make as much sense as it did before the introduction of automatic promotion and relegation between the fourth and fifth tiers of English football in 1987 and the formation of the Premier League in 1992.

Nevertheless, I’ve had a look at the movement of clubs between the Football League and non-league since the formation of the Football League.  Apart from 1987, 1921 is treated as a marker year, as for the first time the Football League had four divisions.  Click here for the details.

I’ve listed clubs under 7 categories:

  1. Clubs that were in the Football League in 1986-87 when automatic promotion and relegation was introduced, but subsequently played in non-league (17 clubs).
  2. Clubs that were not in the Football League in 1986-87 when automatic promotion and relegation was introduced, but subsequently played in the League (13 clubs).
  3. Clubs that were in the Football League but lost their place without regaining it before 1987 (27 clubs).
  4. Clubs that were not in the Football League by 1921 but subsequently joined the League before 1987 (21 clubs).
  5. Other clubs that lost their place in the Football League but regained it by 1921 (15 clubs).
  6. Years in which all other clubs first joined the Football League (52 clubs).
  7. What has happened to former Football League clubs that are not currently in the League (38 clubs)

A club playing in the Premier League is not considered as having lost its place in the Football League.

The raw data for 1 to 6 can be found here.   The information for 7 is derived rather hurriedly from Wikipedia.  I’ll be double checking it against Tony Kempster’s site in due course.

Every club that has played in the Football League since 1888 is covered.

I have applied my notion of the continuity of clubs that are re-formed – sociological factors before legal fiction.

Burton Albion are not regarded as a continuation of  Burton Swift/Wanderers/United as the fans of the club themselves do not appear to regard the club as a continuation of the earlier clubs.

Even excluding category 7, several clubs fall under more than one category.  There are several clubs that fall under both categories 1 and 4.   Other highlights:

  • Accrington Stanley are the only club that lost there place in the Football League before 1987 that have regained it since.
  • Of the 12 clubs that played in the Football League for the first time after 1987, 5 have since lost their place.  Barnet lost their place, but regained it.
  • Of the 17 clubs in category 1, 10 have since regained their place in the Football League.

While category 6 is not directly on point, the following is noteworthy:

  • Only 2 of the 12 clubs that formed the Football League in 1888 ever lost their place – Stoke City and Accrington.
  • 15 of the 22 Southern League clubs that joined the Football League in 1920 to form the Third Division have never lost their place.  Cardiff City went straight into the Second Division while Grimsby Town, who had finished bottom of the Second Division, took their place in the Third Division.
  • 17 of the 19 northern clubs that joined the Football League in 1921 to form the Third Division North have lost their place in the Football League at some time, even though several of them subsequently regained their place.  The Third Division of the previous season became the Third Division South with Grimsby Town transferring to the North division, and Charlton Athletic taking their place in the South division.

Four clubs joined the Football League in 1950 when Divisions 3 and 4 were increased from 22 to 24 clubs -Colchester United, Gillingham, Scunthorpe United and Shrewsbury Town.

Before automatic promotion and relegation between the Football League and non-league football was introduced in 1987, clubs entering the Football League was very rare under the old re-election system.   Apart from the four clubs that joined the Football League when it expanded from 88 to 92 clubs in 1950, the only other way a club could enter the Football League was if a League club was dissolved and needed to be replaced.

Between 1951 and 1986, only the following clubs entered the League:

  • 1951 – Workington replaced New Brighton who had ceased to exist.
  • 1960 – Peterborough United replaced Gateshead.
  • 1962 – Oxford United replaced Accrington Stanley.
  • 1970 – Cambridge United replaced Bradford Park Avenue.
  • 1972 – Hereford United replaced Barrow.
  • 1977 – Wimbledon replaced Workington.
  • 1978 – Wigan Athletic replaced Southport.

Ironically, Accrington Stanley replaced Oxford United 44 years later, in 2006.

(Post edited.  See second and third comments below.)

About these ads

7 comments

  1. Re: Analysis Of Movement Between League & Non-League: G. What has happened to clubs that are not currently in the League
    The situation at Scarborough is complicated. Scarborough Athletic were actually formed BEFORE Scarborough FC went out of business. Most fans regard it as a new club altogether. Scarborough Athletic play in Bridlington and have never played a match in Scarborough.
    Parts of Scarborough FC (Centre of Excellence, Football in the Community, youth team) survived by mmoving to a local Sports College and have now launched their own adult team, Scarborough Town, which has spent 2008-09 in the Teesside League but is likely to be in the Wearside League in 2009-10.
    There is some friction between Scarborough Town and Scarborough Athletic. My personal assessment is that Scarborough Town are the continuation of Scarborough FC and that Scarborough Athletic are a new club entirely. But others may see it differently, of course.


    • This might resolve the issue:

      In reply to:

      2nd new club formed in Scarborough

      http://www.scarboroughtown.net/

      An interesting development.

      Initially I thought ‘why’?

      So I read the blurb and fair play to them. Seems honourable enough. Plus, town will be at teesside league level (is this even at step 7?) and are amateur.

      Athletic will, hopefully, rise to high non league status around steps 1-4 and be semi-pro.

      There is room for two teams with different aims in this scenario I would say.

      From no team to a choice of two ‘proper’ community teams. I would even say the locals are quite lucky!!


  2. The original post contained the following passage:

    According to the Wikipedia entry on the Third Division North:

    The Third Division South had been formed the previous season (as simply the Third Division) with 22 teams mostly from the Southern League. It was decided that this gave the league too much of a southern bias, so the Third Division North was created to redress the balance.[citation needed] However, there was not a northern equivalent of the Southern League, so only 20 teams could be found, taken from several regional leagues: the Midland League, the Central League, the North Eastern League, the Lancashire Combination and the Birmingham Combination. A further two teams were added in 1923 to take the total to 22.

    However, the Wikipedia entry on the Northern League states that:

    Having been founded in 1889, the Northern League is the oldest surviving league after The Football League.

    As an aside, the top division of the current Southern League is tier 7, while top division of the current Northern League is tier 9.

    I wondered if that might be because the Northern League was an amateur league.

    The issue appears to be more complicated than that, including inaccuracies in the above passages from Wikipedia.

    The matter is discussed on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum.

    Amongst other things, it has been pointed out that the West Midlands (Regional) League also dates back to 1889. The top division of the league is level 10.


  3. The original post also contained the following post:

    A further aside – in the entry on Gainsborough Trinity, Wikipedia states:

    Trinity claim to be one of the few English clubs never to have experienced a relegation, as they were voted out of the Football League rather than being directly relegated.

    It is apparent from the preceding passage under “History” on the Wikipedia entry that apart from being elected to the Second Division of the Football League in 1892, Gainsborough Trinity have never been promoted either.

    This is highlighted in the discussion on Tony Kempster’s Non-League Forum referred to above.


  4. [...] Football League from non-league football between 1951 and 1972, a non-league club was elected to replace a league club at the end of each of the 1976-77 and 1977-78 [...]


  5. [...] and the subsequent increase to two clubs promoted and two clubs relegated in 2003, there is an increasing number of former non-league clubs in the Football League and vice [...]


  6. […] Analysis Of Movement Between League & Non-League […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: