Welcome to the BetVictor guide to English non-league football.

Here, we will explain the non-league structure by taking you through the levels of the system in their ranking order, while giving you a clear picture of how movement between Divisions is impacted by performance and geographic location.

Our guide also explains how promotion and relegation will differ in the 2019-20 season compared to the 2018-19 season as the National League System continues with its restructuring in time for 2020-21.


The System Explained: How is the non-league structured?

The National League is the top Division in non-league football and is the Division directly below League Two. Think of League Two as Level 4 in the English football pyramid. The National League represents Level 5, or Step One if referring to the non-league system exclusively.

At the end of the National League season, two out of the 24 teams win automatic promotion to the Football League, and four are relegated to the National League North and South Divisions.

The two regional Divisions currently comprise 22 teams each (increasing to 24 for the start of the 2020-21 season) and represent Level 6 of the football ladder. It is here where we begin to see the levels represented by more than one Division side by side as we continue down the ladder.


It is also at this stage where geography can force extra movement of teams between leagues on the same level.

If the relegations from the National League end up geographically unbalancing the North and South Divisions, then a team, or teams, from the Midlands region will be required to switch leagues to even up the numbers.

Up until the 2018-19 season, two teams were promoted from each of the leagues to the National League at the end of the season and three from each relegated to the seventh tier of English football.

For the 2019-20 season, only two teams will be relegated from each Division as part of a non-league restructure that will see the North and South Divisions increased to 24 teams each in time for the beginning of the 2020-21 season.


Level 7 (Step 3)

Beneath the National League North and South divisions, we enter the seventh and eighth tiers of English football, or Step 3 and 4 in non-league terms.

BetVictor will proudly sponsor all 11 Divisions  (228 teams) from the beginning of the 2019-20 season.

As of the beginning of the 2018-19 season, Level 7 (Step 3) is represented by four region-specific Divisions, with the Southern Premier League now being made up of two separate league tables; Central Division and South Division. Each level 7 Division contains 22 teams.


Level 7 Divisions:

BetVictor Northern Premier League

BetVictor Southern Premier League Central Division

BetVictor Southern Premier League South Division

BetVictor Isthmian Premier Division


The champions in each of the four divisions are automatically promoted to either the National League North or South. A further two teams in total across the four divisions were promoted via a playoff system in 2018-19.

Firstly, four conventional playoff winners were determined in each Division. Then, the four teams were paired off geographically for a further match to determine which two teams were promoted.

But, as part of the 2020-21 restructure, all four initial playoff winners at the end of the 2019-20 season will be promoted along with the four champions. This will see eight clubs promoted in time for the 2020-21 season rather than six to bring the total number of teams in the National League North and South Divisions up to 24.

The bottom two teams in each division and the two 20th-placed teams with the lowest points across the four league tables will be relegated to one of the regional divisions of the NPL, Southern or Isthmian leagues – Level 8 – at the end of the 2019-20 season.

non league structure


Level 8 (Step 4)

The eighth tier is made up of seven leagues of 20 teams differentiated by region, with promotion places feeding into the appropriate one of the four Level 7 leagues.

The champions of each Level 8 Division are promoted automatically, and the next four teams compete in the playoffs.

The 2018-19 season saw the five best play-off winners by points per game over the season being promoted, with two playoff winners missing out on promotion.

As we move into the 2019-20 season and the next phase of the non-league restructure, all seven playoff winners will gain promotion at the end of this season. The bottom two teams are relegated to a level 9 (Step 5) division along with a further two teams who represent the worst performing of the 18th-placed finishers in terms of points.


Level 8 Divisions:

BetVictor Northern Premier League North West Division

BetVictor Northern Premier League South East Division

BetVictor Southern Premier League Division One Central

BetVictor Southern Premier League Division One South

BetVictor Isthmian League North Division

BetVictor Isthmian League South Central Division

BetVictor Isthmian League South East Division


Level 7 (Step 3) Leagues: A Closer Look


BetVictor Northern Premier League

Established: 1968

Notable Former Clubs: Accrington Stanley, Boston United, Burton Albion, Macclesfield Town, Morecambe, Scarborough, Macclesfield Town, Wigan Athletic, Fleetwood Town.

Famous Players: Jamie Vardy, Grant Holt, Lee Trundle

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27: Jamie Vardy of England during the International Friendly match between England and Italy at Wembley Stadium on March 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)


BetVictor Southern Premier League

Established: 1894

Notable Former Clubs: Millwall, Luton, Reading, Swindon Town, Southampton, Tottenham, Brighton & Hove Albion, Gillingham, Portsmouth, Bristol Rovers, Fulham, QPR, Northampton Town, Stoke, Plymouth Argye, Watford, Cardiff City, Torquay United, Ipswich Town, Colchester United, Oxford United, Cambridge United

Famous Players: Ashley Williams, Troy Deeney, Kevin Phillips, Malcolm Christie

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 24: Wales player Ashley Williams in action during the International friendly match between Wales and Northern Ireland at Cardiff City Stadium on March 24, 2016 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)


BetVictor Isthmian Premier Division

Established: 1905

Notable Former Clubs: Wimbledon, Wycombe Wanderers, Yeovil Town, Stevenage, Dagenham & Redbridge, Billericay Town

Famous Players: Peter Crouch, Michail Antonio, Jimmy Bullard, Chris Smalling, Les Ferdinand, Gary Hooper

Tottenham Hotspurs' Peter Crouchcelebrates after scoring against AC Milan during their Champions League football match on February 15, 2011 at San Siro Stadium in Milan. Tottenham defeated AC Milan 1-0. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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