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National League System - Step 5/6 Review

Author: Mark Frost, Hunts FA Published: 10th January 2012 16:22

National League System – Step 5/6 Review 

The Football Association is now in a position to update Leagues and Clubs on the current position with regard to a review of the Step 5 / 6 structure of the National League System.

There was always the intention, as part of the overall restructure, to align the number of promotion places to Step 4 with the number of relegation places available.  With Step 4 now established with 6 Divisions and 12 possible relegation places, the Leagues Committee established a Review Group charged with the task of exploring the possibility of reducing the current 14 Step 5 Divisions down to 12. 

A consultation process commenced in September with the Review Group meeting individually with each of the Step 5 / 6 competitions.  Following these meetings it was established that there was a majority of leagues in favour of such a reorganisation taking place at Step 5.  At a meeting with all Step 5 leagues held yesterday (8 January) at Burton Albion FC the Review Group presented their current thinking.  An example of how a new structure might look was presented.  It was emphasised that the example shown included all current Step 5 clubs and did not take into account if the club fully complied with the appropriate grading criteria.  There will also be two season's normal club movements by way of promotion and relegation to take into account. The meeting also highlighted the following:

  • That every effort should be made to establish 12 Step 5 divisions each of 22 clubs.
  • To be included, Clubs must achieve Ground Grading Category F, as independently verified, by 31 March 2013.
  • So as to not disadvantage any club, all clubs that meet the F Grade will be included in the new structure and to facilitate this, in the first season, 2013/2014, the number of clubs in each division may vary between 22 and 25.
  • By adjustments being made to the number of relegated clubs from Step 5 over the following one or two seasons, numbers would reduce to 22 clubs.

The next stage of the consultation process sees all Step 5 clubs invited to attend a series of regional meetings to consider the current situation and have any concerns explained to them.  These meetings are to take place as follows:

  •             Sunday 15 January at the Thurrock Hotel, Aveley
  •             Sunday 22 January at The West Riding County FA offices in Leeds
  •             Sunday 29 January at the Leicester Marriott Hotel
  •             Sunday 12 February at Yeovil Town FC

Based upon the feedback from both the leagues and clubs meetings the Leagues Committee will determine the way forward.  The Review Group will also be looking at Step 6 in more detail in the coming months.

Commenting on the project Mike Appleby, Leagues and Clubs Manager, emphasised that this was very much work in progress and that no final decision had been made: "There are a number of inaccurate rumours circulating at the present time and we must await the outcome of the consultation process before any final recommendation is made. 

"Part of the original aims of the restructure process was to try to equalise the travelling of clubs.  It is inevitable therefore that some clubs will find an increase in their travel whilst some will see a reduction"

"The leagues themselves have asked that Step 5 and 6 be reviewed and we are following this through but I reiterate that no decision has been made and will not be made until the consultation process has been completed".

Should any restructure take place it will take effect from season 2013/2014.



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