There are some changes to the promotion and relegation arrangements for this season which are explained below.
It’s a double delight for some teams! Two teams will go up automatically from Step 4 – our current level in the Football Pyramid – rather than one for the 2016-17 season.
Step 4 clubs will be battling it out for two automatic promotion spots next season as part of the Football Association’s restructure of the National League System. As part of the FA’s bid to cut travelling times and costs across the Pyramid, an extra Division at both Step 3 and 4 is also set to come into effect from the 2018-19 season.
The Southern League will run the new Step 3 Division while the Isthmian League will take charge of the additional Step 4 Division.
The shake-up means a re-jig of the club numbers in the National League System and the FA have confirmed it will be done on the field in the current campaign.
For the 2017-18 season only, just one club will be relegated from the three Step 3 Leagues. From the six Step 4 Divisions, 19 clubs will be promoted – the six champions, six runners-up, six play-off winners and the highest-ranked third-place team on a “Points Per Game” basis. In the Division that has the highest-ranked third-place team, the team finishing in seventh will compete in the play-offs.
In the others, the play-offs will be made up of the clubs finishing third to sixth, as in 2016-17. As at Step 3, just one club will be relegated from each Step 4 Division.
There will be 26 clubs automatically promoted to Step 4 from Step 5. The 14 Leagues’ champions will be joined by 12 second-placed clubs, again based on a “Points Per Game” basis.
So the effect of this will be as follows:
Relegated from Step 3 to Step 4 - 3 (bottom clubs in each Division).
Promoted from Step 4 to Step 3 - 19 (12 clubs in 1st and 2nd, highest ranked 3rd place on “Points Per Game” basis, 6 play-off winners, with one Division’s play-offs going down to 7th due to the best third-placed team going up).
Relegated to Step 5 - 6 (bottom clubs in each Division).
Promoted to Step 4 - 26 (14 champions and 12 second-placed clubs on a Points Per Game basis).
At our Step 4 level, it means that if the team finishing in third place in the Bostik North has a higher “Points Per Game” than the third-placed teams in the five other Step 4 Divisions - Bostik South, Evo-Stik South East, Evo-Stik South West, Evo-Stik First Division North and Evo-Stik First Division South, they will be promoted into the Bostik Premier Division for the 2018-19 season and the seventh-placed team, will compete in the play-offs.
It will make for more interest as the season comes to its climax April. If you are like me, you will start to look at the five other Step 4 League tables rather more closely than you may have ever done before, to see who will get the coveted “best third-placed team” promotion slot!
The current state of play, based on the best “third-placed” team on points gained per game after all matches played up to the close of play on Monday 2 April, is as follows:
League Best “Third-Placed” Team Average Points Per Game
Evo-Stik First Division North Scarborough Athletic 2.15
Bostik South Greenwich Borough 2.02
Evo-Stik South East Hartley Wintney 2.00
Bostik North Potters Bar Town 1.93
Evo-Stik First Division South Bedworth United 1.83
Evo-Stik South West Bristol Manor Farm 1.81
As things stand, it would be the Evo-Stik First Division North that would provide the third automatic promotion place to the Evo-Stik Premier Division, with Scarborough Athletic leading the way with an average of 2.15 points per game played. With many teams still having at least ten per cent of their league fixtures to complete, there is still much to play for across the six Step 4 Divisions.
Updated 16:28 - 6 Apr 2018 by GAFC News