The FA have released the regulations for the National League System for the 2021/22 season which includes details of how promotion and relegation will work in the Toolstation NCEL.

The situation, assuming all clubs accept offers of promotion or a play-off place, will be as follows:

NCEL Premier Division (Step 5):
Champions promoted;
Runners-up to take part in a one-off play-off at a Step 4 side;
Bottom two relegated.

NCEL Division One (Step 6):
Champions promoted;
Play-offs to determine other promoted Step 6 sides – format to be confirmed;
Bottom three liable to relegation.

The relevant part of the regulations, including what happens if a club turns down an offer of promotion or a play-off place, reads as follows:

Step 4 (eg. Northern Premier League) and Step 5
The Clubs finishing in the bottom two places in each of the eight divisions at Step 4 at the end of the Regular Season will be relegated and placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 5 for the following Playing Season.

The Clubs finishing in 3rd and 4th bottom in each of the eight divisions at Step 4 at the end of the Regular Season will take part in Inter-Step Play Off Matches against the Clubs finishing in 2nd position in each of the sixteen divisions at Step 5 to determine whether they remain at Step 4 or are relegated to Step 5 for the following Playing Season.

The Clubs relegated for finishing bottom and 2nd from bottom in each of the eight divisions at Step 4 will be replaced by the Clubs finishing in 1st position in each of the sixteen divisions at Step 5.

The Clubs finishing in 2nd position in each of the sixteen divisions at Step 5 will take part in Inter-Step Play Off Matches against Clubs finishing in 3rd and 4th from bottom in each of the eight divisions at Step 4 to determine whether they remain at Step 5 or are promoted to Step 4 for the following Playing Season.

Where a Club finishes in 1st position but does not meet the minimum criteria for promotion to the next Step, the Club finishing in 2nd position shall be promoted and the Club finishing in 3rd position (and so on) shall be the Club in the next eligible position to take part in the Inter-Step Play Off Matches.

Where a Club finishes in an Inter-Step Play Off Position but does not meet the Criteria for participation in Inter-Step Play Off Matches, the Club finishing in the next eligible position shall take part in the Inter-Step Play Off Matches.

Clubs finishing below position 7 will not be eligible to take part in Inter-Step Play Off Matches.

Inter-Step Play Off Matches:
Each Club at Step 4 which finishes the Regular Season in an Inter-Step Play Off Position will be drawn at home against a Club from Step 5 which finishes the Regular Season in an Inter-Step Play Off Position.

The conditions of Inter-Step Play Off Matches (such as the criteria of how ties are drawn, associated financial matters, extra time, and player eligibility) will be confirmed by the Committee from time to time.

Ties will be a one-off match with the winner being allocated to Step 4 for the following Playing Season and the defeated Club being allocated to Step 5 for the following Playing Season.

The Clubs allocated to Step 4 will be placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 4 for the following Playing Season.

In addition, a Club allocated to Step 4 shall comply with the Licencing System provision as set out in Appendix 1 to the Standardised Rules.

Step 5 and Step 6
The Clubs in the bottom two places in each of the sixteen divisions at Step 5 at the end of the Regular Season will be relegated and placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division of Step 6 for the following Playing Season.

These Clubs will be replaced by:

(i) the Clubs finishing in 1st position at the end of the Regular Season in each of the two divisions operated by the South West Peninsula League;

(ii) the Clubs finishing in 1st position at the end of the Regular Season in each of the remaining fifteen divisions at Step 6;

and (iii) a further fifteen Clubs determined by a series of Play Off Matches within those remaining fifteen divisions (i.e. not including the two divisions operated by the South West Peninsula League).

Where a Club finishes in 1st position but does not meet the criteria for promotion to the next Step, the Club finishing in 2nd position shall be promoted and the Club finishing in 3rd position (and so on) shall be the Club in the next eligible position to 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.

In each division at Step 6, 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 ties will be played on a single match basis with the home Club being the Club with the best points per game ratio in the Regular Season.

If there are only three eligible Clubs then the highest placed shall receive a bye to the 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 7th position will not be eligible to take part in Play Off Matches.

The promoted Clubs will be placed in a feeder pool and placed in the most geographically appropriate division at Step 5 for the following Playing Season.

Step 6 and relegation
At the end of the Regular Season the Clubs in the bottom three positions of each of the seventeen Step 6 divisions will be liable to relegation.

The final number of Clubs to be relegated will be confirmed once promotion candidates from Feeder Leagues and any vacancies are known.

If reprieves are required the Clubs 3rd from bottom will be ranked on a points per match basis (then goal difference, then goals scored if required) – the Club(s) with the best points per match will be reprieved.

If all 3rd from bottom Clubs are reprieved, and a further reprieve(s) is required, the same process will apply for Clubs 2nd from bottom (and so on).

At Steps 2 to 5, the Club finishing in last place in the table at the end of the Regular Season will be relegated and not reprieved.

At Steps 1 to 6, if a Club becomes eligible to take part in a Play Off Match and refuses to take part in that match or if a Club qualifies for promotion and refuses to be promoted then that Club shall be relegated from the division it last played in and shall play the following Playing Season in the division at the next Step level below. If the refusal/ineligibility applies to a Club currently operating at Step 6, the Club will be removed from the NLS and placed in the appropriate Regional NLS Feeder League, provided there is an eligible Club at Feeder League level to replace them.

admin
June 9, 2021