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Promotion to/Relegation from the Football League

This page aims to show the complete history of admission to the Football League. The term "Football League" is take to include the Premiership. You can view full details by year, or full details by club

Some facts

  • Up until 1988, the bottom teams in the Football League had to apply for re-election to the League. Any aspiring non-league clubs with seek election alongside them
  • In the 40 years of elections after World War two, just seven teams failed to be re-elected
  • In the 50 seasons of football after WWII, 17 teams were relegated from the league
  • From 1988 to 2002 promotion between the league and the conference was on an automatic one-up one-down basis, subject to ground and financial criertia
  • Between 1993 and 1997, the Fotball League changed the deadline by which these criteria had to be met, resulting in no promotions
  • From 2003, a two-up-down system was introduced, with the Conference having play-offs amongst the 2nd to 5th placed teams to decide which gained the second promotion spot.
  • Of the 34 teams that have joined the League since WWII, eight have since been relegated. The shortest gap between promotion and relegation was four years. (Halifax going up in 1998 and back down in 2002)
  • Of the 27 teams that hav left the League since WWII, nine have subsequently rejoined. Darlington (1992 / 1993) and Shrewsbury (2003 / 2004) are the only two to re-join after one season, Morecombe had the longest wait to date - nine years from 1997 to 2006.
This page would simply have been impossible without the help of Footballsite.co.uk. There's a lot there, including detailed club histories.

The following table summarises the reasons why a club left or joined the League.
Joining Reasons Leaving Reasons
Founding Member 12 Expelled 1
Division 2 Creation 12 Not re-elected 40
Division 3 Creation 22 Relegated* 27
Division 3N Creation18 Resigned 12
Elected 48 Total 80
Expansion 24
Promoted 27 Totals
Replacement 9 Clubs in 172
Total: 172 Clubs out 80
Clubs in League 92
*Please note that the word "relegated" is used on the other related sections to mean not re-elected or relegated. I intend to change this soon, so that things are consistant with the above table.



Copyright 2004-10 Tom Willis | Updated 20:09 18/09/2010