How non league relegation will work at the end of the 2019/20 season

The Uhlsport Hellenic League match ball. Photo: Neil Graham.
The Uhlsport Hellenic League match ball. Photo: Neil Graham.

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Football in Berkshire has been busy looking at all the promotion criteria for the big Football Association non league restructure at the end of the 2019/20 season, but what about relegation?

For years, it has been a bit of a lottery as to whether a club is relegated or not based on factors outside of the 90 minutes of football.

Things like clubs higher up resigning, new divisions created or the division itself starting without the required 20 teams.

The 2019/20 restructure – which will see a division added at step 4 and two at step 5 – has set some clear rules for clubs to be relegated this season so it should be easier for supporters to understand their end of season battles.

Relegation from step 4

Number of divisions: 7; Number of clubs relegated: 7; In brief: The bottom 7 clubs in each division will play off against a second placed step 5 club.

More info: One of the new divisions will be at step 4 in the non league football pyramid to bring it up to eight from seven, but that doesn’t mean clubs finishing bottom will find themselves reprieved from relegation.

The clubs finishing bottom in each of the seven step 4 divisions will face a play off against a step 5 club that finished in second place at the end of the season. The winner of the match will be a step 4 club in 2020/21.

Relegation from step 5

Number of divisions: 14; Number of clubs relegated: 12; In brief: From the 14 clubs that finish bottom, the 12 with the worst points per game record will be relegated.

More info: The other new division will be at step 5 and run by the Combined Counties League – covering the Thames Valley area. As with step 4 though, there will still be relegation despite the need to fill new divisions with clubs.

Based on points per game, the 14 clubs that finish at the bottom of the 14 step 5 division will be ranked and the 12 clubs with the worst records will be relegated to step 6.

Relegation from step 6

Number of divisions: 20; Number of clubs relegated: At most 40; In brief: The bottom 2 clubs in each of the 20 step 6 divisions are ‘liable’ to relegation.

More info: This one is slightly more difficult to predict as it depends on factors including, but not exclusively, the number of clubs who have applied for promotion from step 7 (currently 80+), the number of clubs that meet promotion criteria such as ground grading and finishing within the top five.

The FA have stated that no more than 40 clubs will be promoted from step 7, so withdrawals further up the pyramid may see reprieves start to come in to play. If this does happen, points per game will come in to play.

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