The FA meet with Step 5/6 leagues regarding Restructuring and Ground Grading criteria changes

DarkSithLord

Well-Known Member
Messages
9,964
Likes
3,109
Location
Derbyshire
Supports
Alfreton
Twitter
@LiamHenton
Thread starter #1
Taken from the Combined Counties League website. Certainly mades for interesting reading!

ROUND GRADING AND RE-STRUCTURING AMONGST TOPICS UNDER DISCUSSION

League Secretary Alan Constable and Vice-Chairman Tony Ford attended a Step 5/6 Leagues Meeting at Leicestershire County FA on Sunday 3 July 2016, to receive an update upon possible re-structuring and other matters.

The first piece of news was that, although the Leagues Committee of the FA wish to introduce additional divisions at Steps 3 and 4 in the Midlands, no re-structuring will take place pending resolution of the recent announcement by the Football League concerning their wish to expand to 100 clubs. This clearly is very sensible as such a move would inevitably have a knock-on effect upon the National Leaue System but it does mean that it would be at least two more seasons before Step 5 leagues and their clubs are likely to be affected by any re-structure.

There does seem to be universal acceptance, that, with the exception of the National League top division, 24 clubs in a division is too many. The suggestion for the future at Steps 5 and 6 is that there would be 20 clubs in Step 5 divisions and 18-20 at Step 6. The League is aware that some within the CCL would agree with this but at the most recent discussion at Management Committee level, albeit some time ago, there was still a view that we would like 22 clubs in our Premier Division and we voted accordingly in a straw poll. Most of the other Step 5 leagues present though seemed content to run with 20 in the future so that may well be where we are heading.

Other very interesting news was that consideration is being given to a review of the ground gradings, possibly with the intention to scrap Grade E, which is the entry grade for clubs aspiring to Step 4. Instead and as at other levels, clubs would be able to be promoted with their current grade (Grade F for our Premier Clubs) and they would then have until 31 March following to achieve the membership grade for Step 4, currently Grade D, of course.

There was plenty of discussion concerning clubs who finish in a promotion position but then refuse at a later date to take up promotion, and the disruption this can cause. There is talk of making promotion compulsory but it seems to us this may be easier said than done.

We raised the League’s concerns about the early start of the FA Cup and the very late notification and also the threat to remove grant money from leagues who have clubs who do not meet the full requirements of the level at which they compete. A statement was made though that the latter situation is not a “done deal” and that clubs will have the opportunity to put their case at the annual review hearing.

The meeting ended just before 3.30 p.m. and was a useful exercise, hopefully not only for the Leagues to express their views and concerns but also for the Football Association and their various representatives to hear first hand what Leagues had to say.

So it clearly confirms that the FA`s rumoured intention to add a Midland League at Step 3 and 4 is absolutely true but it is not happening for another two years due to possible FL changes
 

Jemfy

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,129
Likes
303
Supports
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
#2
Very interesting to see the FA actually planning to do something!

A lot to digest in here.

Step 3/4 league addition - an idea I've been a fan of since I first heard about it. I assume the plan is to set it up so that the then 8 step 4 divisions would each get 2 feeder step 5's and further meetings will cover how this might be done. On of the obvious areas for a new step 5 league would be in the north to break up the Northern League, the the final choice would be about where the geograhical borderlines would be and which league it was intended to feed. Ideally I'd guess it would be at the north end of the midlands to push the northern leagues more north and feed in to the northern side of the new midland league at step 4. Breaking up the Northern League is key IMO, as it will hopefully removed the culture of refusing promotion in that region, especially if you force the big teams apart and let plenty of others get promoted around them.

Ground grading - too right it should be looked at when trying to change the number of divisions above, but it needs to be done in a fairer way. The rules that are there aren't applied seriously to clubs already at the level and we all know it. Removing the grade E is pointless. Clubs who get promoted still have to get to grade D from grade F in terms of requirements so it's a change that will make practically no difference except maybe encouraging clubs to gamble on going up and then seeing plenty relegated as they don't meet the criteria, instead I'd look at smoothing out the system such as removing the requirement for grade E in order to get promoted, but then clubs have 1 year to reach E and a further year to reach D - this means if a club fails to reach D they will have reached E and have 2 years if they get promoted again to get up to D. I think a comprehensive review of the criteria and the reasons behind them needs to be undertaken however as some of them are just odd. See what can be done there to make it easier for clubs but still in the interests of why the rules were put in place. TL;DR - longer grace periods are more important than cutting out middling ground grades.

Compulsory promotion - If you applied for the promotion and haven't withdrawn by the kick off of the final game of the season you should be forced to take the promotion. Fair rule IMO. Yes things can change over the summer, but there needs to be something in place after the havoc Cinderford caused this year.
 

SGW

Member
Messages
38
Likes
7
Location
The Kop (I wish)
Supports
Wrexham
#3
Very interesting to see the FA actually planning to do something!

A lot to digest in here.

Step 3/4 league addition - an idea I've been a fan of since I first heard about it. I assume the plan is to set it up so that the then 8 step 4 divisions would each get 2 feeder step 5's and further meetings will cover how this might be done. On of the obvious areas for a new step 5 league would be in the north to break up the Northern League, the the final choice would be about where the geograhical borderlines would be and which league it was intended to feed. Ideally I'd guess it would be at the north end of the midlands to push the northern leagues more north and feed in to the northern side of the new midland league at step 4. Breaking up the Northern League is key IMO, as it will hopefully removed the culture of refusing promotion in that region, especially if you force the big teams apart and let plenty of others get promoted around them.
Completely disagree with all of that. Not saying I'm right and you're wrong but we are approaching this from entirely different points of view.

I do see a need for a new step 3 division for the Midlands to stop the southern creep of the NPL. I don't see that it follows there must be 2 new feeder step 4 divisions. That's just neatness for neatness sake rather than being realistic, not least because the FA would need to find 60+ step 5 clubs to promote to fill all the gaps created (assuming minimal changes to division sizes).

As for a compulsory break up of the NL, well that's just a shocking idea. If you're suggesting it, then presumably it's being talked about and I'm absolutely horrified that anyone thinks a) that's a proportionate solution and b) that the NLS is so important that individual organisations with a long and proud history should be cast aside to suit. IMHO football at this level is a part-time activity / hobby even and it's the job of the NLS to work around the existing structures not the other way around.
 

Jemfy

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,129
Likes
303
Supports
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
#4
Completely disagree with all of that. Not saying I'm right and you're wrong but we are approaching this from entirely different points of view.

I do see a need for a new step 3 division for the Midlands to stop the southern creep of the NPL. I don't see that it follows there must be 2 new feeder step 4 divisions. That's just neatness for neatness sake rather than being realistic, not least because the FA would need to find 60+ step 5 clubs to promote to fill all the gaps created (assuming minimal changes to division sizes).

As for a compulsory break up of the NL, well that's just a shocking idea. If you're suggesting it, then presumably it's being talked about and I'm absolutely horrified that anyone thinks a) that's a proportionate solution and b) that the NLS is so important that individual organisations with a long and proud history should be cast aside to suit. IMHO football at this level is a part-time activity / hobby even and it's the job of the NLS to work around the existing structures not the other way around.
I think you're putting words in my mouth when you say that it's neatness for it's own sake. The problem of the Northern League sprawling southwards isn't limited to step 3, it's a problem at step 4 as well. We're now part of the Northern League Division 1 South, in the middle of Northamptonshire. You can't argue that's part of the footprint of that league traditionally, that it isn't a problem in terms of milage, or that it would be fixed by expanding step 3 and not step 4. I don't think you can argue that something needs to be done at step 3 but not at step 4. I can't see a way you can put in a 4th division at step 3 and make the promotion/relegation work without allowing the step 4 divisions to continue to creep slowly south.

There are also other ways of doing things than just promoting a bunch of teams to make up the numbers. There are clear thoughts about reducing most leagues to 20 teams, which drastically reduces the number needed to be brought up. There are also options of removing a step above to consolidate the non-league system in to 2-4-8-16 from the current 1-2-3-6-14 (no particular thoughts either way personally right now).

As for the thoughts on the Northern League (step 5). I'm one person, and my suggestion of it doesn't mean it's being talked about. To me it's just a clear problem that can be solved by breaking up the collective attitude which exists. It doesn't mean the destruction of the institution, but adding another step 5 division covering part of the traditional geography and therefore splitting up the clubs (n.b. I'm not advocating destroying it and putting 2 new step 5 divisions in it's place). If we move to 8 divisions at step 4 then 16 at step 5 makes sense to finally simplify the promotion/relegation issue at this level for good. The FA previously tried to remove 2 step 5 leagues but nobody was having it, so simplifying the promotion and relegation is clearly something they want to do. If 2 new step 5 leagues are going to come in to being they need to take over geographically from some that already exist, and one way of doing it to generate a footprint that makes sense and tackle the issues that exist is to cover part of the existing Northern League's footprint and split up the clubs with the group-think mentality of not wanting promotion.

The job of the NLS is to find something that works, and the current system doesn't. Yes the system should do what is best for the clubs, but that doesn't mean preserving the status quo for it's own sake.
 

SGW

Member
Messages
38
Likes
7
Location
The Kop (I wish)
Supports
Wrexham
#5
I think you're putting words in my mouth when you say that it's neatness for it's own sake. The problem of the Northern League sprawling southwards isn't limited to step 3, it's a problem at step 4 as well. We're now part of the Northern League Division 1 South, in the middle of Northamptonshire. You can't argue that's part of the footprint of that league traditionally, that it isn't a problem in terms of milage, or that it would be fixed by expanding step 3 and not step 4. I don't think you can argue that something needs to be done at step 3 but not at step 4. I can't see a way you can put in a 4th division at step 3 and make the promotion/relegation work without allowing the step 4 divisions to continue to creep slowly south.

There are also other ways of doing things than just promoting a bunch of teams to make up the numbers. There are clear thoughts about reducing most leagues to 20 teams, which drastically reduces the number needed to be brought up. There are also options of removing a step above to consolidate the non-league system in to 2-4-8-16 from the current 1-2-3-6-14 (no particular thoughts either way personally right now).

As for the thoughts on the Northern League (step 5). I'm one person, and my suggestion of it doesn't mean it's being talked about. To me it's just a clear problem that can be solved by breaking up the collective attitude which exists. It doesn't mean the destruction of the institution, but adding another step 5 division covering part of the traditional geography and therefore splitting up the clubs (n.b. I'm not advocating destroying it and putting 2 new step 5 divisions in it's place). If we move to 8 divisions at step 4 then 16 at step 5 makes sense to finally simplify the promotion/relegation issue at this level for good. The FA previously tried to remove 2 step 5 leagues but nobody was having it, so simplifying the promotion and relegation is clearly something they want to do. If 2 new step 5 leagues are going to come in to being they need to take over geographically from some that already exist, and one way of doing it to generate a footprint that makes sense and tackle the issues that exist is to cover part of the existing Northern League's footprint and split up the clubs with the group-think mentality of not wanting promotion.

The job of the NLS is to find something that works, and the current system doesn't. Yes the system should do what is best for the clubs, but that doesn't mean preserving the status quo for it's own sake.
That's well argued. Like I said, I don't think you're wrong, just that I've got a different view of how the NLS should work.

That said, I think you're wrong on a number of points of detail, viz:

There are currently 208 clubs at steps 3 and 4 spread over 9 divisions. If you went the whole hog, ignored the howls of protest and reduced every division to 20 whilst introducing a Midlands league at steps 3 and 4 as you propose, you would still need 32 new clubs from step 5. Granted, that's a lot better than the 60+ if you didn't change divisional sizes but it's still a lot of clubs to find. I think there's already a barrel-load of shite grounds at step 4 (and some at step 3 for that matter) without exacerbating the problem.

Re the NL, I apologise if I misinterpreted what you meant by "break up." However, I think you're being unrealistic here if you think it can be broken down into 2 separate step 5/6 leagues. I'm sure there are a couple of more southerly clubs which could be spun off but, in essence, this league is very compact geographically and it makes no sense to try and split it into even smaller geographical areas.

I'm not trying to defend the NL btw and I agree with you that their attitude is poor. However, in a notionally free country it is their right to have that attitude and I'm really not keen on top down "solutions" being imposed which may well suit other parts of the country but do absolutely nothing for North East football (at the end of the day, it is a bloody long way away and it is the butt of some unfair criticism: the SW peninsula is equally poor at participating in the NLS but escapes the criticism because there's plenty of slightly less westerly clubs to plug the promotion gap).

Plus you've conveniently overlooked the obvious compromise for the NL which would be to split the NPL step 4 divisions into East and West rather than North and South. Take it from me as a northerner that, counter intuitive as it may sound, that would significantly reduce travel times from the North East. Combine that with reducing the NPL step 4 divisions to 20 or even 18 at a push to eliminate the really southern clubs like R&D (absolutely ludicrous that you're in the NPL) and that seems a workable solution worth trying for me.
 

Jemfy

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,129
Likes
303
Supports
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
#6
That's well argued. Like I said, I don't think you're wrong, just that I've got a different view of how the NLS should work.

That said, I think you're wrong on a number of points of detail, viz:

There are currently 208 clubs at steps 3 and 4 spread over 9 divisions. If you went the whole hog, ignored the howls of protest and reduced every division to 20 whilst introducing a Midlands league at steps 3 and 4 as you propose, you would still need 32 new clubs from step 5. Granted, that's a lot better than the 60+ if you didn't change divisional sizes but it's still a lot of clubs to find. I think there's already a barrel-load of shite grounds at step 4 (and some at step 3 for that matter) without exacerbating the problem.

Re the NL, I apologise if I misinterpreted what you meant by "break up." However, I think you're being unrealistic here if you think it can be broken down into 2 separate step 5/6 leagues. I'm sure there are a couple of more southerly clubs which could be spun off but, in essence, this league is very compact geographically and it makes no sense to try and split it into even smaller geographical areas.

I'm not trying to defend the NL btw and I agree with you that their attitude is poor. However, in a notionally free country it is their right to have that attitude and I'm really not keen on top down "solutions" being imposed which may well suit other parts of the country but do absolutely nothing for North East football (at the end of the day, it is a bloody long way away and it is the butt of some unfair criticism: the SW peninsula is equally poor at participating in the NLS but escapes the criticism because there's plenty of slightly less westerly clubs to plug the promotion gap).

Plus you've conveniently overlooked the obvious compromise for the NL which would be to split the NPL step 4 divisions into East and West rather than North and South. Take it from me as a northerner that, counter intuitive as it may sound, that would significantly reduce travel times from the North East. Combine that with reducing the NPL step 4 divisions to 20 or even 18 at a push to eliminate the really southern clubs like R&D (absolutely ludicrous that you're in the NPL) and that seems a workable solution worth trying for me.
I don't think we're going to change each other's minds here, but I still think that the conversation is interesting and productive.

RE: number of clubs to come up. It's an interesting point that 32 clubs would need to be brought up, which would be an average of just 2.3 each from the current 14 step 5 divisions. I'm not sure I have a large problem with that. Yes some clubs would get promoted with terrible grounds, but I don't think they would be significantly worse than those that exist at step 4. All promoted clubs would need to meet the ground grading requirements of course, which would probably mean that the new grounds were significantly better than those at step 4 you are thinking of...

I also posited several other ways this could be fixed. If Step 2 and Step 1 went to 20 clubs in each division that's 8 less than need to come up, making a total of 24, or 1.7 per step 5 division. Further if step 1 was eliminated as a result of pushing clubs up for the FL league plans that would take it down to just 4 clubs required to come up (separately to what happens as a direct result of extra promotions from step 1 to FL).

I think the bigger problem is with the largely arbitrary rules that the ground grading has, and the rather inconsistent implementation of the rules across the national league system (anecdotal stories I've heard rather than evidence I can produce to be fair). A comprehensive review of ground grading requirements is probably warranted at some point in the near future regardless of consequences of any restructuring. That and getting a good funding system for ground improvements through a grant application process, hopefully to be funded by the FL/PL and their large pools of cash... (relatively speaking of course).

RE: NL. I could have been clearer with what I meant. It wouldn't be simply splitting it in to two, but creating a new league which covers part of the geographical footprint of the NL and part of another league, most likely the Northern Counties East. Looking at a map like this suggests it's obvious that the NL should be one to reduce it's footprint, though the issue becomes a lot more complicated if you actually look at the spread of clubs within that area... It's an interesting case which begs the question if the areas which don't have clubs are a lack of appetite for a club or a practical impossibility to produce a club to that level due to travel costs involved (and if this is something that would be altered by introducing a new league and reducing the footprints of all...). To clarify I am not suggesting splitting it in 2, but producing a league which covers part of the NL and part of another. The more I look at it, the less this solution will actually split up the old boys club mentality sides.


[wikipedia]

I don't buy the "free country" argument particularly. If they want to run a league which doesn't participate in the national league system then they should be free to do so. The problem is they want all the benefits of being in the system such as access to cups, without wanting to take part in the system of promotion and relegation. Let them step out of the system and let the system find another way of doing it if that's how they want to live. I'd have no problems with them doing it, as complicated as it would be and as much as it would get weird essentially having two overlapping leagues - one that wants to take promotions and one that doesn't.

The South West peninsula is interesting and as you say, doesn't garner much attention. I do wonder if you put a side by side list of previous seasons and eligible promotion candidates, which league would have more. You are right in that it doesn't garner as much attention, but most seasons they seem to at least have candidates attempting to get promoted (from my memory), while ground grading is what seems to get in the way there. It's also surely (without looking it up) covering far less population than the northern league?

RE: Changing how NPL is split at step 4 - a quick look at a map shows it's pretty much NW/SE split as it is , so a East/West split wouldn't actually help matters. The step 4 divisions would still be creeping south. It might be something to look in to due to the geography if the Northern League was shoved north with the introduction of a pair of midland league divisions. I'd ideally like to see the new divisions drawn out via an algorithm to minimise total travelling distance. (apologies can only find embedded interactive maps, but this is a good one: http://www.fansfocus.com/maps/steps3-4.php )

RE: 6x20 team divisions at step 4 (I think this is what you are suggesting at the end more or less?) - Relegating extra teams to change how many are in step 4 will actually make the problem worse IMO. You can't selective relegate based on geography, which means that the teams that go down will be the ones which are barely avoiding promotion most seasons. That will be the same across the board and assuming no geographical bias, that would mean the footprint held by each league would remain about the same, just less densely populated. The creep created by lop-sided promotion from below would continue and you'd start to push the NLD1S past Birmingham (remember it nearly went to the other side of Birmingham based on what happened in the SLD1S&W, and the reprieve caused before being cancelled on appeal). Effectively if it had been done for this season we'd be in the same league (most likely, without checking) with about the same average journey length, just fewer midweek games.

If you are suggesting that the Northern League would reduce to 20 or 18 teams and the others either wouldn't, or would increase as a result then I'd like to see how you would make that work, including a plan for making the step 4/5 relegation/promotion fair between the divisions (or at least as fair as it is now).
 

DarkSithLord

Well-Known Member
Messages
9,964
Likes
3,109
Location
Derbyshire
Supports
Alfreton
Twitter
@LiamHenton
Thread starter #7
Some updates on this.

From the NPL -

"As you may recall, earlier this season the NPL submitted a competitive tender to run both the new Step 3 and 4 divisions that will be created in the Central England region with effect from season 2018/19.

The league board’s proposal to the FA was that the NPL administer the new divisions for a period of no more than three years, enabling strong foundations to be established for an independent league – run by representatives of member clubs – to be created by the season 2021/22 season. The NPL board does not believe that any one league should run another on a permanent basis. Our bid was endorsed by four County FA’s and by a number of NPL member clubs.

We have today been advised that our bid was not successful, and that instead the new Step 3 division will be run by the Southern League and the new Step 4 division by the Isthmian League. Although disappointed that an opportunity has been missed, we respect the FA sub-committee’s decision. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those NPL clubs and County Associations who took the time to write letters of support, and to NPL board colleagues for their invaluable input. I will be happy to expand upon our proposal, its rationale, the process and the decision at our Chairman’s Meeting on June 4th should any club wish me to do so.

As this news will no doubt appear in the Non-League Paper and other media in the coming days I also want to make clear what this will mean for the NPL.

1. At the end of next season (2017/18), only one team will be relegated from each division at Steps 3 and 4. Promotion from Steps 3 and 4 will take place in the current format.
2. From season 2018/19, there will be four Step 3 divisions of 22 clubs (there are currently 24) each and seven Step 4 divisions of 20 clubs. The NPL will continue to operate three divisions; our Prem, Div 1 (north) and Div 1 (south)
3. At the end of next season 26 clubs will be promoted from Step 5 into the seven Step 4 divisions, comprising the 14 champion clubs plus 12 others via either play-offs of point-per-game.
4. The changes are likely to see the NPL reduced from 68 clubs to circa 62 until the mooted eighth division at Step 4 is created, although there is no definite time frame for this.
5. The sponsorship income received by the NPL will not decrease over the next three years at least as a result of losing clubs. I also hope to be able to announce positive news on the league sponsorship to you at the June 4th meeting.
6. The NPL will continue to work to encourage more clubs from the Northern League to take promotion to Step 4, thereby addressing the gradual ‘creep’ of NPL borders further south."
 

DarkSithLord

Well-Known Member
Messages
9,964
Likes
3,109
Location
Derbyshire
Supports
Alfreton
Twitter
@LiamHenton
Thread starter #8
From the Southern League
The EVO-STIK League Southern is looking forward to playing its part in Non-League’s brand new pyramid after the Football Association announced the results of the biggest shake-up to the structure of the grassroots game in more than a decade.

The EVO-STIK League Southern was chosen on Thursday to manage and run the new Step 3 division which is being created for the start of the 2018-19 season. This follows a long-awaited review of Steps 3 and 4 of the National League System to iron out geographical anomalies, cut down on travelling costs and time for fans, players and officials and encourage more Step 5 clubs to climb the pyramid.

The first major restructuring of the game since 2004 will also see the creation of a new Step 4 division which will be run by the Isthmian League.

In total, the 276 clubs currently playing in Steps 1 to 4 will increase by 20 to 296 when the two new divisions kick-off in August 2018. Across the board, the reshuffle will see the three current Step 3 divisions of 24 clubs increase to four divisions of 22 clubs while the six Step 4 divisions currently run by the Northern Premier League, Isthmian League and Southern League will rise from 136 clubs playing in six divisions to seven 20 club divisions.

To achieve its aim, the FA also confirmed that only the bottom clubs in the current Step 3 divisions will be relegated at the end of season 2017-2018. In addition, only the clubs finishing last in the six divisions currently operating at Step 4 will be relegated next season with 26 clubs coming up from Step 5.

EVO-STIK League Southern chairman Terry Barratt said: "We are are delighted. This is great news after a great deal of hard work by the league and we are now looking forward to catering to thousands of more fans from 2018-19 after beating off stiff competition from a number of other leagues who'd declared an interest in running the new divisions."
 

Jemfy

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,129
Likes
303
Supports
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
#9
Thanks for those statement that help to clarify the situation, I was considering putting a new thread up later in the summer (when things are quiet) to get some conversation going about the changes, how they will be implemented, and the possible future changes they may lead to.

Currently the National League have apparently refused to change to 4 teams being relegated from each division in order to balance with the newly created step 4 league. There is some speculation this could enter a type of playoff situation involving the 4th bottom club and the teams hoping to be promoted. Apparently the logic of the National League is that 4/22 being relegated would be too many.

Still waiting on confirmation for how the extra promotions required to make up this extra step 3 league will be handled (n.b. promotions from step 5 to 4 were addressed in the Northern Premier League statement).

Currently there will be 3x3 (effectively reprieved) + 3x2 (sideways shifted in reducing 24 to 22) = 15 extra clubs to be shifted in to the 4th division at step 3. This means a further 7 are required. Current speculation is that that will come from promoting all 2nd placed teams and the losing playoff finalist with the highest PPG, and thus losing playoff finalists with the most PPG would be in line to receive extra promotions should gaps above be created (in line with the FA's stance that all clubs finishing in last position should be inelligible for reprieves).

The problem with making a losing playoff finalist get promoted with the highest PPG is that it means there will be one playoff final where one team has nothing on the line. And that team will be hosting it. In fact they would theoretically be playing for someone else to get promoted and their opponents to stay down. I can't currently think of a better way to handle it given that an odd number of teams is required.

Also I think it's a shame that the Northern Premier League has not been granted the tender to run the step 3 division at least - they appear to be better run than the Southern League.
 
Messages
49
Likes
7
Location
Upminster
Supports
Hornchurch
Twitter
@Madaboutflags
#10
and from the Isthmian league ...

"
The Ryman League is looking forward to playing its part in Non-League’s brand new pyramid after The Football Association announced the results of the biggest shake-up to the structure of the grassroots game in more than a decade.
The Ryman League was chosen on Thursday to manage and control the new Step 4 division which is being created for the start of the 2018-19 season. This follows a long-awaited review of Steps 3 and 4 of the National League System to iron out geographical anomalies, cut down on travelling costs and time for fans, players and officials and encourage more Step 5 clubs to climb the pyramid.

The first major restructuring of the game since 2004 will also see the creation of a new Step 3 division which will be managed and controlled by the Southern League.

In total, the 276 clubs currently playing in Steps 1 to 4 will increase by 20 to 296 when the two new divisions kick-off in August 2018. Across the board, the reshuffle will see the three current Step 3 divisions of 24 clubs increase to four divisions of 22 clubs while the six divisions at Step 4 currently run by the Northern Premier League, Southern League and Isthmian League will rise from 136 clubs playing in six divisions to seven 20 club divisions.

To achieve its aim, the FA also confirmed that only the bottom clubs in the current Step 3 divisions will be relegated at the end of season 2017-2018. In addition, only the clubs finishing last in the six divisions currently operating at Step 4 will be relegated next season with 26 clubs coming up from Step 5.

Ryman League chairman Nick Robinson is looking forward to catering to thousands of more fans from 2018-19 after beating off stiff competition from two other leagues which had declared an interest in the new Step 4 division.

With the number of clubs coming under the Isthmian umbrella increasing from 72 to 82, he said: “The board has worked hard for some years now to deliver football for all; giving the management and control of the new Step 4 division to the Isthmian League is a great step forward for the league.

“We can now look forward to season 2018-2019 when we will have 60 clubs in three divisions which are better placed geographically than at present. The aim is to reduce costs for clubs and fans alike so that we encourage more players and supporters to our brand of football.”

He added: “This is a great prospect for a new sponsor and the board will now progress discussions with a view to making an announcement about a new title sponsor at or shortly before the Annual General Meeting in June.”
"
 

ForzaCounty

Active Member
Messages
204
Likes
48
Location
Stockport
Supports
The Kings in the (Vanarama) North
#11
There are also other ways of doing things than just promoting a bunch of teams to make up the numbers. There are clear thoughts about reducing most leagues to 20 teams, which drastically reduces the number needed to be brought up. There are also options of removing a step above to consolidate the non-league system in to 2-4-8-16 from the current 1-2-3-6-14 (no particular thoughts either way personally right now).
Why do there have to be two divisions feeding each one at step 3?

Seems to me there's plenty more clubs down south than in the north/midlands, and trying to force such a structure would just keep enabling a southwards drift. So just make it a 1-2-4-6, with the Southern & Isthmian being fed by two divisions and the NPL Prem/new Midland league being fed by one. Hey presto, fewer spaces needed to be filled in the north/midlands, and you can start enforcing regional boundaries a bit more to maintain sensible travel.
 

Silver Stone

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,081
Likes
468
Supports
Maidstone United
#12
There will be 7 from
Why do there have to be two divisions feeding each one at step 3?

Seems to me there's plenty more clubs down south than in the north/midlands, and trying to force such a structure would just keep enabling a southwards drift. So just make it a 1-2-4-6, with the Southern & Isthmian being fed by two divisions and the NPL Prem/new Midland league being fed by one. Hey presto, fewer spaces needed to be filled in the north/midlands, and you can start enforcing regional boundaries a bit more to maintain sensible travel.
what I've read, two for the Northern and Southern, and a new third one for the Isrhmian.
 

Jemfy

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,129
Likes
303
Supports
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
#13
Why do there have to be two divisions feeding each one at step 3?

Seems to me there's plenty more clubs down south than in the north/midlands, and trying to force such a structure would just keep enabling a southwards drift. So just make it a 1-2-4-6, with the Southern & Isthmian being fed by two divisions and the NPL Prem/new Midland league being fed by one. Hey presto, fewer spaces needed to be filled in the north/midlands, and you can start enforcing regional boundaries a bit more to maintain sensible travel.
There don't, and there won't be (the post you quoted is a year old). However when there are not equal structures for promotion then very strange things need to go on for everything to be fair. You're going to see 7 divisions promoting in to 4 from 18/19 onwards. This is the plans that have been announced and this is happening.

Yes 4/6 would be possible, however with more clubs coming up to step 4 from the south an approach like that would only delay the creep somewhat. That would also create the problem of unfairly large geographical footprints for teams placed in those leagues by comparison to teams in the Southern/Isthmian lower divisions (due to the often cited travel costs). This would in turn reduce the incentive for step 5 clubs to be promoted due to the additional costs involved. In the 4/6 system you propose would the divisions feeding the Northern/Midland promote more teams each or would the Northern/Midland relegate fewer? How would you deal with sideways moves for clubs on the Midland/Southern borderline? Are they suddenly going to be moved between competitions with different rules?

I've been a very big proponent of taking action in order to stop the southward creep of the Northern Premier League. Creating an additional division in the south to push the Northern Premier League back northwards will be one way to help that, as is happening. The additional division at step 4 will also help prevent that from being a measure that's extremely temporary, and push the Northern Premier League D1N and D1S northwards.

The FA seem to be looking to address the root cause - which is partially due to the lack of promoted teams in the north, both due to having fewer divisions promoting at step 5, and the attitudes etc in some of those divisions. They are also looking at reviewing the ground grading which is part of the problem. Frankly we can fiddle with the structure all we want at this level, but if the root causes are not addressed then it will not be fixed.

I'd like to see a final end to the restructuring at this level in a few years with the addition of an 8th step 4 division, and 2 new step 5 divisions in geographically appropriate places (particularly the north, though I'm not 100% on the patterns of leagues etc to suggest where etc) to help address the current geographical imbalance of clubs being promoted from step 5. That and somehow fixing how the Northern League (step 5) rarely seem to promote a team somehow.
 

Jemfy

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,129
Likes
303
Supports
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
#14
There will be 7 from

what I've read, two for the Northern and Southern, and a new third one for the Isrhmian.
All the step 3 leagues will be fed by all the step 4 divisions with promoted teams being placed in geographically appropriate divisions.

The stuff about the new divisions isn't about where they are located, at least not yet, it's just about which of the currently existing league administrations will run the new divisions (at least until they can be developed in to separate league(s), if at all).
 

DarkSithLord

Well-Known Member
Messages
9,964
Likes
3,109
Location
Derbyshire
Supports
Alfreton
Twitter
@LiamHenton
Thread starter #15
Here is the latest statement from the NWCFL on this -

At the FA Steps 1-6 Leagues Conference at the weekend, details of the FA’s plans for restructuring of the National League System were announced.

The planned FA Restructure is intended to be implemented with effect from the start of the coming season, 2018-19. As a League which operates at Step 5 and Step 6 of the Non-League pyramid, the details and potential impact of the proposals on our League are as follows.

The FA intends to create two new divisions, one at Step 3 and one at Step 4 in an attempt to reduce travelling at that level. In order to implement this, the FA have decided that all Divisions from Step 3 downwards will be reduced to 20 clubs per Division.

This coming season, all Step 5 Division Champion Clubs across the country (14) will be promoted to a Step 4 Division, and the next 12 runners up across the Step 5 Divisions with the best points per game ratio will also be promoted.

The club finishing bottom of the 6 current Step 4 Divisions will be relegated to Step 5 (6 in total). That will give the required number of Clubs to form the two New Divisions.

So, we could have 2 promoted from our League, and we could have 1 or 2 Clubs relegated to our Premier Division, dependent who finishes bottom of the Northern Premier League First Divisions, North & South.

Promotion and relegation between our Premier and First Divisions will stay the same, i.e. 3 up and 3 down. For this season, with us having 23 Clubs in the Premier Division it would normally mean the bottom 4 clubs would be relegated at the end of this season, to revert to 22 Clubs in that Division.

However, in order to reduce the Division to 20 Clubs, it means the following would take place:

If no club is relegated to us from Step 4, it means that 4 Clubs will be relegated to the First Division.

If 1 club is relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 5 clubs will be relegated to the First Division.

If 2 clubs are relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 6 clubs will be relegated to the First Division.

So in summary, between 4 and 6 Clubs will be relegated at the end of the coming season, from the Premier Division to the First Division.

That then has a knock-on effect to our Step 6 Division (First Division), and with this division also needing to be reduced to 20 clubs as part of the FA plan, the following possible scenarios could take place.

Promotion from Step 7 will still apply, so you could have 2 Step 7 Clubs achieving promotion.

If that is so, it would mean:

If no club is relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 4 Clubs will be relegated to the First Division, and 5 Clubs would be relegated from the First Division to a suitable Step 7 League.

If 1 club is relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 5 clubs will be relegated to the First Division, and 6 Clubs would be relegated from the First Division to a suitable Step 7 League.

If 2 clubs are relegated to us from Step 4 it means that 6 clubs will be relegated to the First Division, and 7 Clubs would be relegated from the First Division to a suitable Step 7 League.

In addition, it was also announced at the Conference that there will be North & South Divisions in the North West at Step 6, and that the running of these leagues will go out to tender, as was the case for the additional Divisions at Steps 3 and 4.

Our League Management Committee have made an application to the FA to operate North and South Divisions at Step 6, with a minimum of 16 Clubs in each Division to start it off. We would hope that we would be successful in that process, although we do have to tender to run our own Division/s.

If that tender was to be successful, we would need a minimum of 52 Clubs, up to a maximum of 60 Clubs in total (a maximum 20 Clubs per Division). We currently have 45 Clubs and dependent on the implementation of the above, it would mean we require between 7 to 9 Clubs. Based on enquiries received so far, the League Management Committee believes this is achievable.

As other Step 6 Leagues may be in a similar position with regard to the relegation of Clubs, to reduce to 20 per Division, there may be room for lateral movement from those Leagues to the new North West North & South Step 6 Divisions. This is in addition to interest that has been expressed by several Step 7 Clubs from our current Feeder Leagues.

There will obviously be further updates with regard to this matter as the season progresses, and these will be issued when information is made available.
 

Paddy

Well-Known Member
Messages
792
Likes
304
Location
Kingston upon Thames
Supports
Kingstonian
#16
The first piece of news was that, although the Leagues Committee of the FA wish to introduce additional divisions at Steps 3 and 4 in the Midlands, no re-structuring will take place pending resolution of the recent announcement by the Football League concerning their wish to expand to 100 clubs.
Personally I think they should go ahead with restructuring regardless what the FL does. Then instead of promoting up loads of teams when the FL does steal 28 clubs they can promote some & reduce league sizes (as they intend to do anyway below)

There does seem to be universal acceptance, that, with the exception of the National League top division, 24 clubs in a division is too many. The suggestion for the future at Steps 5 and 6 is that there would be 20 clubs in Step 5 divisions and 18-20 at Step 6.
Then why the shiny shit did they go expanding the step 3 leagues up to 24 teams (& the step 4 Isthmian divisions) a few years ago?! We've all known 24 was too many teams for years as most of us had that many in our leagues before the Conf North/South restructure! That's partly why it was reduced to 22 at that time in the first place!

Other very interesting news was that consideration is being given to a review of the ground gradings, possibly with the intention to scrap Grade E, which is the entry grade for clubs aspiring to Step 4. Instead and as at other levels, clubs would be able to be promoted with their current grade (Grade F for our Premier Clubs) and they would then have until 31 March following to achieve the membership grade for Step 4, currently Grade D, of course.
Agree. Most of us down here don't have 1000 match going supporters (no not including you, Dulwich...) or gimicky teams like your FC United's so I think a slight relaxation on ground grading makes sense for the majority of scenarios.

There was plenty of discussion concerning clubs who finish in a promotion position but then refuse at a later date to take up promotion, and the disruption this can cause. There is talk of making promotion compulsory but it seems to us this may be easier said than done.
Compulsory promotion will kill clubs in the rural areas up north or in the West country for example. Leave it as it is. I'm sure a lot of 2nd place step 5 teams that got promoted because the league champions declined weren't complaining.
 

Paddy

Well-Known Member
Messages
792
Likes
304
Location
Kingston upon Thames
Supports
Kingstonian
#19
As I said in the Isthmian thread, this makes so much more sense than the provisional spreadsheet from before even if it means K's remain in the Isthmian Premier
 

Raymondo316

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,063
Likes
870
Location
Maidstone
Supports
Maidstone United
#21
Haven't seen it mentioned anywhere, but surely with these plans will mean 4 down from the National North & South instead of the normal 3 down from each.

Otherwise how the heck are they planning to promote 6 teams from 4 leagues.
 

Paddy

Well-Known Member
Messages
792
Likes
304
Location
Kingston upon Thames
Supports
Kingstonian
#22
Haven't seen it mentioned anywhere, but surely with these plans will mean 4 down from the National North & South instead of the normal 3 down from each.

Otherwise how the heck are they planning to promote 6 teams from 4 leagues.
Step 4 to 3 promotions will be interesting as well with 7 divisions going in to 4. There will have to be some kind of unbalanced promotion method either using PPG or a kind of cross-division play off.
 

BigDaveCUFC

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,630
Likes
534
Supports
Curzon Ashton....and Carlisle
#23
are the FL still thinking about thier extra league clap-trap........am hoping not as i can guess who they want in it regardless of what is said.
 

rudebwoyben

Site Supporter
Site Supporter
Messages
3,513
Likes
1,002
Location
London N7
Supports
Barnet
#29
So headline news is that NL North and South are expanding to 24 teams each to facilitate 4 down from each division in order to abolish the daft super playoffs at step 3.

Should have been done this season but better a little late than never.
After saying in their initial position paper that all of the leagues below the National League should have 22 clubs in them at most!
 

#Beebot

Active Member
Messages
775
Likes
140
Location
Berkshire
Supports
Barnet, Maidenhead
#30
May not be the right place for this but Jersey will be in the Combined Counties League next season, following in Guernsey's footsteps.

Step 5 and below will also be introducing sin bins for dissent.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
14,459
Messages
872,349
Members
4,813
Latest member
Ale