Details of Proposals for Restructure : Proposal C
Proposal C 2 regional divisions beneath existing Conference
In this proposal, there would be a significant amount of change to the current system. There would be two new semi-national leagues created which would promote directly into The Football Conference. Below these two new leagues would be the existing 3 leagues – The Northern Premier League, The Southern League and The Isthmian League together with a newly formed Midlands League. These leagues would be fed by the majority of the current level 3 leagues together with Isthmian 1st division North and Isthmian 1st division South. The boundaries of all leagues would be flexible so that if a club was better placed geographically to move into a particular league, then this could occur. Below this, there would be no significant change, the main changes which would occur are as a result of the changes above.
In order to select 44 clubs for the semi national leagues, some criteria would be used. Playing standards would form the largest and most important element. However, each club would need a current ‘A’ grading from its current league and over time the ground grading requirements would be increased so they were closer to the current Conference standards. Each club would need to meet some basic financial compliance criteria which would be developed in the near future. Attendance profiles of clubs and community involvement would also be used to help provide an overall assessment of a club. Every club would know the full requirements at least a season before any implementation occurred.
Clubs would apply to join these new leagues if they were interested in becoming members and then an assessment, as detailed above, would be carried out. The final 44 clubs would be then allocated geographically into a north and a south division.
For those clubs that either do not apply for the semi-national leagues or which are not selected, then the three current level 2 leagues plus a new Midland League would be the next highest leagues in which they would play. The borders of these leagues would be re-aligned. Both the Northern Premier League and the Southern League would be geographically smaller than currently, which would help to reduce travelling and associated costs.
As an example, the make up of these leagues could be created in the following way.
Football Conference – 22 clubs as current
New Semi National Leagues
Semi national north – 22 clubs
14 clubs from NPL Premier and 8 from SL Premier
Semi national south – 22 clubs
14 clubs from IL Premier and 8 from SL Premier
Promotion and relegation
1 club, the Champions, of semi national north and 1 club, the Champions of semi national south would be promoted.
The clubs in 2nd –5th place in each division would enter a play off.
3 or 4 teams from each semi national league would be relegated.
The Northern Premier League, the Southern League, the Isthmian League and the Midland League (ML) would all have 22 clubs. Below is an example of how these leagues may be made up. It would depend on the geographical location of each club as to which league is would be allocated into.
The NPL would be made up from 7 clubs in the current NPL – Premier division and an additional 17 clubs from the current NPL – 1st division.
The new Midland League may be made up from the remaining 2 most southerly based clubs in the NPL – Premier division, 2 most southerly based clubs in the current NPL – 1st division, 2 remaining northern based clubs from the current SL – Premier division and 16 most northerly based clubs from both the current SL East and SL West.
The Southern League would comprise of 2 clubs from current SL Premier division, 2 remaining most westerly clubs from current Isthmian League Premier division, 4 most westerly based clubs in total from the Isthmian 1st division North and Isthmian 1st division South and the remaining 14 clubs in total from both the SL 1st divisions East and West.
The Isthmian League would be made up from the 8 remaining Isthmian League Premier division clubs, the 2 remaining clubs from the current SL Premier division, 4 clubs in total from the current SL East and SL West and the remaining 8 clubs would in total be from the Isthmian League 1st division North and 1st division South.
Promotion and Relegation
The 1st club, The Champion, in each league would be promoted. There would then be play-offs to determine the further promoted clubs.
At the end of each season, the promoted and relegated clubs would be placed in the most sensible geographical leagues – the creation of feeder pools.
At the next step would be the current level 3 leagues which feed the NPL and SL plus the Isthmian League division 1 North and Isthmian League Division 1 South. Again, using approximate numbers as way of an example, 4 current NPL 1st division clubs and 11 clubs in total from the current SL East and West divisions would re-join these leagues. 36 clubs in total from the current Isthmian 1st division North and Isthmian 1st division South would remain in those divisions and would be joined by the most appropriate clubs from the IL 2nd division.
A small number of clubs would move back into the current feeder leagues at level 3. Although this may initially seem like a backward step, it will mean that the feeder leagues are strengthened. Historically, leagues at current level 3 have supplied clubs to leagues above and this has meant a deterioration in standards at this level over time. It is hoped that by some clubs moving into these leagues then these leagues will be strengthened and in the future, provide better equipped clubs to the leagues above. It will also mean that clubs will be able to play at a more local level with a lower cost base and can therefore plan their development more carefully.
- It creates a more logical system.
- It removes the geographical anomalies that currently exist.
- It creates more excitement through the introduction of play-offs.
- As clubs are promoted they move into larger geographical leagues.
- As clubs are relegated, they move into smaller geographical leagues.
- Some clubs will move into leagues currently at level 3, strengthening those leagues.
- Some clubs would travel less than currently and there would be more equitable travel at the same step.
- Loss of perceived status for current three senior leagues.
- Reduction in number of clubs for the 3 main feeder leagues.
- 23 clubs from the current Premier divisions will be positioned further away from The Football Conference.
- Clubs moving into the current Level 3 leagues may feel dis-advantaged.
- For the current Isthmian league clubs included in the semi-national leagues, there would be increased travel.
- There would be a significant amount of change in this system.
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