5. Detailed Promotion and Relegation Issues

5.1 The criteria for entry to the NLS and the criteria for ground/stadium facilities and the criteria for participation in Play Off Matches shall be determined by the LC. All criteria so determined shall be published by The Association from time to time.

5.2 At the conclusion of each Playing Season, the following procedures will apply to promotion/relegation subject to the application of the Rules:


Step 1 and Step 2

The following does not apply to promotion from Step 1.

The Clubs finishing in the bottom four places at Step 1 at the end of the Playing Season will be relegated to a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 2 for the following Playing Season. They will be replaced by the Clubs finishing in 1st position in each of the divisions at Step 2 together with a further two Clubs determined by a series of Play Off Matches. Where a Club finishes in 1st position but does not meet the criteria for participation at the next Step, the Club finishing in 2nd position shall be promoted and the Club finishing in the next eligible position shall take part in the Play Off Matches. Where a Club finishes in a Play Off Position but does not meet the criteria for participation in Play Off Matches the Club finishing in the next eligible position shall take part in the Play Off Matches. The Play Off Matches shall be played so that in each Step 2 division the highest placed of the eligible Clubs plays against the lowest placed and the other two Clubs play each other. The aggregate winners will play each other and the winner of that match will be promoted. If there are only three eligible Clubs then the highest placed shall receive a bye to a second match where it will play the winner of the other Play Off Match and the winner of that match will be promoted. Clubs finishing below position 7 will not be considered for Play Off Matches.


Step 2 and Step 3

The Clubs in the bottom three places in each of the two divisions at Step 2 at the end of the Playing Season will be relegated to a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 3 for the following Playing Season. They will be replaced by the Clubs finishing in 1st position in each of the divisions at Step 3 together with a further three Clubs determined by a series of Play Off Matches. Where a Club finishes in 1 st position but does not meet the criteria for participation at the next Step, the Club finishing in 2nd position shall be promoted and the Club finishing in the next eligible position shall take part in the Play Off Matches. Where a Club finishes in a Play Off Position but does not
meet the criteria for participation in Play Off Matches the Club finishing in the next eligible position shall take part in the Play Off Matches. The Play Off Matches shall be played so that the highest placed of the eligible Clubs plays against the lowest placed and the other two Clubs play each other. At Step 2 the aggregate winners will play each other and the winner of that match will be promoted and at Step 3 the winners of each first match will play each other and the winner of that match will be promoted. If there are only three eligible Clubs then the highest placed shall receive a bye to a second match where it will play the winner of the other Play Off Match and the winner of that match will be promoted. Clubs finishing below position 7 will not be considered for Play Off Matches.
The promoted Clubs will be placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 2.


Step 3 and Step 4

The Clubs in the bottom four places in each of the three divisions at Step 3 at the end of the Playing Season will be relegated to a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 4 for the following Playing Season. They will be replaced by the Club finishing in 1st position in each of the divisions at Step 4 together with a further six Clubs to be determined by a series of Play Off Matches. Where a Club finishes in 1st position but does not meet the criteria for participation at the next Step, the Club finishing in 2nd position shall be promoted and the Club finishing in the next eligible position shall take part in the Play Off Matches. Where a Club finishes in a Play Off Position but does not meet the criteria for participation in Play Off Matches the Club finishing in the next eligible position shall take part in the Play Off Matches. The Play Off Matches shall be played so that the highest placed of the eligible Clubs plays against the lowest placed and the other two Clubs play each other. The winners of each match will play each other and the winner of that match will be promoted. If there are only three eligible Clubs then the highest placed shall receive a bye to a second match where it will play the winner of the other Play Off Match and the winner of that match will be promoted. Clubs finishing below position 7 will not be considered for Play Off Matches.

The promoted Clubs will be placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 3.


Step 4 and Step 5

At the end of the Playing Season the Clubs in the bottom two places in each of the four divisions at Step 4 administered by the Northern Premier and Southern Leagues, together with the Clubs in the bottom three places in each of the two divisions administered by the Isthmian League will be relegated and placed in the most geographically appropriate League at Step 5. Irrespective of any provision contained within the Rules the Clubs finishing in bottom position in each of the six Step 4 divisions will be relegated and will not be reprieved. These Clubs will be replaced by the fourteen most suitable Clubs from the Leagues at Step 5 as determined by the LC. The suitability shall be determined as the Club finishing in 1st position in each Step 5 League which meets the entry criteria and wishes to be considered for promotion. In the event of the 1st placed Club not being eligible, the
Clubs finishing in 2nd or 3rd position shall be subject to the same criteria. In usual circumstances, no more than one Club will be promoted from any one League. The Clubs to be promoted from Step 5 will be allocated to the most geographically appropriate division at Step 4.

If vacancies remain, consideration will be given to reprieving those Clubs other than bottom placed clubs relegated from Step 4 who will be ranked according to the average number of points gained per games played and the Club with the highest average shall be reprieved first. In the event of Clubs having an identical record the Club to be reprieved shall be determined by the LC.

Any Club seeking promotion from Step 5 to Step 4 must make application to the Association on the prescribed form, copied to their existing League, by 30 th November in the relevant year. The application must be accompanied by the appropriate application fee, as determined by the LC, which is non refundable. Applicant Clubs must achieve a minimum E Grade by 31st March in the Playing Season when promotion is sought.


Step 5 to Step 6 and Step 6 to Step 7

The promotion and relegation of Clubs between Steps 5, 6 and 7 shall be dealt with as follows.

Movement of Clubs between Steps 5, 6 and 7, where a League operates at each Step, shall be included in their constitutional rules and regulations. Irrespective of any provision contained within the Rules, the Clubs finishing in bottom position in each of the fourteen Step 5 divisions will be relegated to Step 6 and will not be reprieved, as determined by the LC.

Clubs seeking promotion to Step 5 from a League at Step 6 which is not linked to Step 5, must make application using the prescribed form direct to the Association, copied to their existing League, by 31st December in the relevant year. Each application must be accompanied by the agreed application fee, as determined by the LC, which is non refundable.

Clubs seeking promotion to Step 6 from a League at Step 7 which is not linked to Step 6, must make application using the prescribed form direct to the Association, copied to their existing League, by 31st December in the relevant year. In order to be considered for promotion Clubs must finish in 1st position in their Step 7 league. If the Club finishing in 1st position does not wish to be promoted or fails to meet the entry criteria then the club finishing in 2nd position will be eligible for promotion. If the club in 2nd position does not seek promotion or fails to meet the entry criteria then clubs down to 5th position may be considered for promotion provided that they meet the appropriate entry criteria. Clubs finishing below 5th position will not be considered for promotion and only one club will be considered from each League. Each application must be accompanied by the agreed application fee, as determined by the LC, which is non refundable.


5.3 Where a vacancy occurs within the NLS the following procedures will apply:-

  • 5.3.1 (a) Where a Club notifies its intention to resign from its League at the end of the Playing Season, then a vacancy is created on the date the notification of intention to resign is formally accepted by that League. In all cases, the Club will be placed in the bottom position in that division. In cases where the vacancy is created prior to the end of the Playing Season, the vacancy will be filled by the best ranked Club in that same division. In cases where the vacancy is created after the end of the Playing Season but before the League’s AGM, the vacancy will be filled in accordance with Regulation 5.3.2 below.
  • 5.3.1 (b) Where, during the course of the Playing Season, a Club notifies its intention to resign from its League with immediate effect or where a Club is removed from the League for any other reason, then the playing record of that Club will be expunged and a vacancy is created on the date the resignation or removal is formally accepted or recorded by that League.
    In all such cases the Club will be placed in the bottom position in that division and the vacancy will be filled by the best ranked Club in that same division.
  • 5.3.2 Where a vacancy occurs at Step 1 following the completion of a Playing Season the best ranked Club in a relegation position in that division is reprieved.
    • Where a vacancy occurs at Steps 2 and 3 following the completion of a Playing Season the best ranked Club in a relegation position across the particular Step is reprieved. The ranking to be determined by the average points gained per game played and comparable league position. The Club with the highest average shall be reprieved first. In the event of Clubs having an identical record the Club to be reprieved shall be determined by the LC. Where a vacancy arises and clubs at Step 4 are to be reprieved, the four clubs in 21st position in the Northern Premier and Southern Leagues and the two clubs in 22nd position in the Isthmian League would be ranked by the average points per game played. In the event of all of the abovesix clubs being reprieved and there are further vacancies available the next two places would be allocated to the clubs in 23rd position in the Isthmian League ranked on the average points per game played.
  • 5.3.3 Where a vacancy occurs after the date of a League AGM then a League is not able to replace the Club(s) concerned for the following Playing Season.
  • 5.3.4 In the event that for any reason whatsoever there are more vacancies in a division before the end of a Playing Season than relegation places in that division, the question of relegation and reprieves shall be dealt with at the sole discretion of the LC.

5.4 Only internal changes to the constitution of a League are allowed following the holding of a League’s Annual General Meeting.

5.5 Clubs are not allowed to enter into a ground share agreement in order to gain promotion or to retain membership at a particular Step where the Club has failed to attain or maintain the relevant Grade.

5.6 Ground grading requirements will be in accordance with the Rules. In order to be considered for promotion, the following requirements will apply.


Step 1

Clubs must comply fully with the requirements of Grade A.


Step 2

Clubs competing at Step 2 must comply fully with the requirements of Grade B. To be considered for promotion to Step 1 or to be included in the Play Off Matches, Clubs must meet the requirements of Grade B together with any additional requirements by 31st March in the year in which they seek promotion. Clubs must also attain Grade A by 31st March in the year following promotion.


Step 3

Clubs competing at Step 3 must comply fully with the requirements of Grade C. To be considered for promotion to Step 2 or to be included in the Play Off Matches, Clubs must meet the requirements of Grade C and attain Grade B by 31st March in the year following promotion.


Step 4

Clubs competing at Step 4 must comply fully with the requirements of Grade D. To be considered for promotion to Step 3 or to be included in the Play Off Matches, Clubs must meet the requirements of Grade D and attain Grade C by 31st March in the year following promotion.


Step 5

Clubs competing at Step 5 must comply fully with the requirements of Grade F. To be considered for promotion to Step 4, Clubs must meet the requirements of Grade E by 31st March in the year in which they seek promotion, and attain Grade D by 31st March in the year following promotion.


Step 6

Clubs competing at Step 6 must comply fully with the requirements of Grade G. To be considered for promotion to Step 5 Clubs must meet the requirements of Grade G and attain Grade F by 31st March in the year following promotion.


Step 7

Clubs competing at Step 7 must comply fully with the minimum requirements in force. To be considered for promotion to Step 6 Clubs must meet the requirements of Grade H and attain Grade G by 31st March in the year following promotion. Clubs can be promoted from Step 7 to 6 without floodlights provided that all other requirements of Grade H are met by 31st March in the Playing Season in which the Club wishes to gain promotion and that the Club has the following in place:-

  • Planning permission for floodlights
  • Funding applications submitted if required
  • Quotations/estimates for the work to be carried out
  • A development/business plan
  • That by 30th September following promotion the floodlights are installed and in working order.
  • Failure to install floodlights in working order by 30th September following promotion will result in a sanction being imposed at the discretion of the League of which the Club is a member. If by 31st March in the year following promotion the floodlights are still not installed then the Club will be a relegated Club and be dealt with accordingly.


5.7 If a Club is relegated for not achieving the required Grade for the Step at which it is playing it will not be eligible for promotion again until it has attained the required Grade for the Step to which it wishes to be promoted. The Club must have that Grade at 31st March in the year in which it seeks promotion.