The FA have chosen to finally announce the 2021/22 provisional club allocations for Steps 3 to 6, with plenty of changes made.
We now have a better idea of how the non league pyramid will look as teams prepare and remain hopeful that they can actually be able to play out a full season.
We knew ahead of this announcement that around 110 clubs will be elevated (twenty Step 5, sixty Step 6 & thirty Step 7). You can see all of this further down the article.
Sideways movement is inevitable with a new division added at Step 4, two new divisions at Step 5 & three divisions removed at Step 6.
Here’s everything you need to know about the restructure, as summed up the Non League Paper:
– One new division will be created at Step 4, to be administered by the Northern Premier League.
– Two new divisions will be created at Step 5, to be administered by the Combined Counties League and the United Counties League.
– The number of divisions at Step 6 will be reduced to 17.
– 110 clubs will be required to upwardly move within the pyramid at Steps 4-6.
– 20 clubs will move from Step 5 to Step 4.
– 60 clubs will move from Step 6 to Step 5 (20 to backfill those Clubs elevated to Step 4, and 40 to populate the two new divisions).
– 30 clubs will move from Regional NLS Feeder Leagues to Step 6 (to bring Step 6 divisions to their full quota, taking into account the reduced number of divisions going forwards).
How will promotions be decided into Step 4 and 5?
Each club will be allocated an unweighted points per game figure on the basis of its completed fixtures in both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, i.e. the club’s total points across both seasons will be added together and divided by the number of games it has played across both seasons (A club must have played in each of the two seasons (both at the same Step) in order to be eligible for upward movement via this process).
Clubs will then be ranked within their respective leagues on the basis of those calculations.
Step 5 – The top 3 ranked clubs from each of the North West Counties League, Northern Counties East League and Northern League, along with the top ranked Club from the remaining eleven Step 5 divisions, will be considered eligible for upward movement to Step 4 and will be invited to make an application to do so.
Multiple clubs will be upwardly moved from these specific leagues, as per the previous ratification by FA Council, in order to address specific challenges with travelling distance and time which exist at Step 4.
Step 6 – The top 2 ranked clubs in each of the South West Peninsula League divisions, along with the top 3 ranked clubs from the eighteen remaining Step 6 divisions, will be considered eligible for upward movement to Step 5 and will be invited to make an application for upward movement.
Fewer clubs will be upwardly moved from the South West Peninsula League Divisions, as per the previous ratification by FA Council, on the basis of geographical reasons for the relevant divisions at Step 5.
The Committees are currently considering what additional requirements clubs who are eligible based on sporting merit will be required to meet in order to be upwardly moved via this process and further details will be communicated on this in due course.
It will not be mandatory for any club which is eligible for upward movement to make an application. If an eligible club decides not to do so, the next best ranked club will be invited (and so on) subject to any cut off point deemed appropriate by the Committees.
What about vacancies at Step 6?
The process outlined above will lead to a need to backfill in certain divisions at Step 6 to bring them up to quota.
Where there is a need to do so, the Committee will liaise with the relevant Step 6 Leagues and ask them to consider applications that were made by clubs on or before 31 December 2020 from clubs in Regional NLS Feeder Leagues within their relevant geographical area.
Given the degree of variation in the number of fixtures completed by clubs in Regional NLS Feeder Leagues, the Committees did not consider it appropriate to utilise sporting data in the same way to determine upward movement.
Accordingly, the proposed upward movement will be determined by the relevant Leagues on the basis of a subjective application process (although sporting data may be taken into account), with the final decision to allocate Clubs being with the Committee.
All applications will be assessed by the Committees on the basis of the principles above and clubs will be allocated accordingly.
Right then, the FA announce 2021/22 provisional club allocations for Steps 3 to 6, here is how it looks…