Football Conference

From Academic Kids

The Football Conference is a football league at the top of the National League System of so-called non-league football in England. Conference National is the highest of the three divisions within The Football Conference, and Conference North and Conference South serve as regional feeders one step down. The Football Conference consisted of only one division up until 2004, but expanded as part of an extensive restructuring of the National League System which took effect beginning with the 2004-05 season.



The Football Conference stands at the top of the National League System (NLS), a comprehensive structure linking together over 50 different leagues under the auspices of The Football Association (FA). Conference National is at Step 1 of the NLS, and Conference North and Conference South make up Step 2. Above the Conference are the 92 clubs which together make up the highest levels of English football, the FA Premier League and The Football League; below the Conference are the Step 3 and lower leagues of the NLS.

Each division in The Football Conference has 22 clubs. Each club plays the others in its division twice during a season, once at home and once away, for a total of 42 games played. Clubs earn three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss.

At the end of each season two clubs are promoted from Conference National to the Football League Two and two teams from League Two are relegated to Conference National to take their place. The two promotion places are awarded to the Conference National champions and to the winners of a playoff between those clubs finishing second to fifth in the standings. At the other end of the table, the bottom three clubs in Conference National are relegated to either Conference North or Conference South. The decision as to which division the relegated club joins is made by the FA's NLS Committee, but is largely determined by geography.

The three relegated clubs are replaced by clubs from Conference North and Conference South. These clubs are the champions of their respective divisions, plus the winner of a match between the winners of a playoff between the second to fifth place clubs in Conference North and their counterparts in Conference South. At the bottom, three clubs from each division are relegated and these six clubs are divided among the Step 3 leagues of the NLS, the Northern Premier League, the Southern League, and the Isthmian League. Each of these Step 3 leagues promotes their respective champions and second to fifth place playoff winners. The NLS Committee determines which Step 3 leagues the relegated clubs will join, and whether the promoted clubs will join Conference North or Conference South.

For promotion to proceed, whether from The Football Conference to The Football League, within the Conference, or between the various leagues of the NLS, certain conditions concerning finances and facilities must be met. Failure to meet the requirements of the league concerned will prevent the eligible club from being promoted.


The Football Conference was formed in 1979 from teams in the Northern Premier League and Southern League and was originally known as the Alliance Premier League. Since 1984 it has been publicly known by the names of a succession of official title sponsors. The name was officially changed to the Football Conference in 1986. Below is a list of sponsors and what they chose to call the league:

Automatic promotion and relegation between the Conference and The Football League was first introduced for one club in 1987, and increased to two in 2003.

The Football Conference had a single division for the first 25 years of its existence, but beginning with the 2004-05 season expanded to three divisions. The original division was renamed Conference National and two new regional divisions one level down were introduced, Conference North and Conference South. The new clubs were drawn from the Northern Premier League, Southern League, and Isthmian League according to guidelines developed by the NLS Committee.

Conference clubs, 2004-2005

Conference National
Accrington Stanley
Aldershot Town
Burton Albion
Canvey Island
Carlisle United
Crawley Town
Dagenham & Redbridge
Exeter City
Farnborough Town
Forest Green Rovers
Gravesend & Northfleet
Halifax Town
Hereford United
Leigh RMI
Northwich Victoria
Stevenage Borough
York City
Conference North
Alfreton Town
Ashton United
Bradford (Park Avenue)
Gainsborough Trinity
Harrogate Town
Hinckley United
Hucknall Town
Kettering Town
Lancaster City
Moor Green
Nuneaton Borough
Redditch United
Runcorn FC Halton
Stafford Rangers
Stalybridge Celtic
Vauxhall Motors
Worcester City
Worksop Town
Conference South
Basingstoke Town
Bishop's Stortford
Bognor Regis Town
Cambridge City
Carshalton Athletic
Dorchester Town
Eastbourne Borough
Grays Athletic
Havant & Waterlooville
Maidenhead United
Newport County
St Albans City
Sutton United
Welling United

Past Conference winners

SeasonConference NationalConference NorthConference South
1983-84Maidstone United
1987-88Lincoln City*
1988-89Maidstone United*
1991-92Colchester United*
1992-93Wycombe Wanderers*
1993-94Kidderminster Harriers
1994-95Macclesfield Town
1995-96Stevenage Borough
1996-97Macclesfield Town*
1997-98Halifax Town*
1998-99Cheltenham Town*
1999-2000Kidderminster Harriers*
2000-01Rushden & Diamonds*
2001-02Boston United*
2002-03Yeovil Town*
2003-04Chester City*
2004-05Barnet*SouthportGrays Athletic
* Promoted to The Football League (Fourth Division until 1991, Third Division from 1992 until 2003 and League Two since)

Former Conference clubs now in The Football League

ClubYears in the Conference
Barnet1979-1991; 2001-2005
Boston United1979-1993; 2000-2002
Carlisle United2004-2005
Cheltenham Town1985-1992; 1997-1999
Chester City1999-2004
Colchester United1990-1992
Doncaster Rovers1998-2003
Kidderminster Harriers1983-2000
Lincoln City1987-1988
Macclesfield Town1987-1997
Rushden & Diamonds1996-2001
Wycombe Wanderers1985-1986; 1987-1993
Yeovil Town1979-1985; 1988-1995; 1997-2003

External links

Template:Conference National teamlist
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Football in England

League competitions

The FA

Cup competitions

FA Premier League FA Cup
The Football League (Champ, 1, 2) England
League Cup
Football Conference (Nat, N, S) FA Community Shield
Northern Premier League (Prem, 1) (women) Football League Trophy
Southern League (Prem, 1W, 1E) List of
FA Trophy
Isthmian League (Prem, 1, 2) FA Vase
English football league system Records FA NLS Cup

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Template:English football league system

simple:Football Conference


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