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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The New Step 3 and 4 Promotion and Relegation Structure - And A Suggestion

A banner at Evesham after Hereford secured promotion from Step 4

Bill Thomas has sent BN an article on the promotion systems below Step Two.  

One of the many reasons I wanted the Bulls to win promotion last season, was to avoid any possible complications caused by the extra leagues that have been created at steps 3 and 4. As we have won promotion we will not be affected by this unless we get relegated, as National League North and South will still both have two promotion places, with play-offs. But I do sympathise with the teams below us. 

The number of promotion places from steps 3 and 4 have not been increased to allow for the additional leagues. Step 3 will have six promotion places between four leagues, and step 4 will have twelve promotion places between seven leagues. At both levels, the champion clubs will all be promoted automatically, and then there will be shared promotion places decided by play-offs. All play-off matches will be single games as now. 

At step 3, the 2nd to 5th teams will play-off, and then the four winners will play-off again, with the two winners being promoted. At step 4, the 2nd to 5th teams will play-off, and then although there will be seven winners, only the five winners with the best points per game ratios will be promoted. I think this system could be flawed, because neither of the two step 4 play-off qualifiers with the worst point per game ratios could be one of the five winners with the best points per game ratios. 

At step 5, there will be a small promotion increase starting from season 2019/20. As well as promoting the champion clubs, the runners up will play-off for the right to play-off again against the third bottom step 4 clubs, for a place in step 4. But in season 2018/2019, only the champion clubs will be promoted. 

Personally, I think that the promotion systems from all of these levels are all far too restrictive, and that more promotion places are needed. I feel so sorry for the teams that we have enjoyed playing over the last three years, as I think they deserve better. 

In my opinion, all of the leagues at steps 3,4 and 5 should have been given two promotion places, with separate play-offs in each division. To make this work between step 4 and step 3, the two most northerly step 3 leagues could have three relegation places, and the two most southerly step 3 leagues could have four relegation places. Whilst this would give the northern step 3 teams a slight advantage, it should also help to keep the geographical boundaries in the same places.

My suggestion would of course mean that most of the leagues from steps 2 to 4 would need to have four relegation places. But I think that this could give the relegated teams a better chance to get back up, and it could also make avoiding relegation feel like more of an achievement. In my opinion, more promotion places from any level can also be beneficial to the level above it.

Finally, at the top of the non-league pyramid, I think that the National League should have four promotion places to League Two. This would give relegated Football League clubs a better chance to get back up, and also give clubs that have never played in the Football League a better chance to get there.

If there was more promotion and relegation in non-league football then I think that more people would watch it. 

                    Bill Thomas ... Bradford on Avon