National League (England)

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National League
Full name Vanarama National League
Association Football Association
First edition 1979/80
hierarchy 5th league
Teams 24 teams
master AFC Barrow (1st title)
Record champions Barnet FC and Macclesfield Town (3 wins each)

The National League (current name due to name sponsorship: Vanarama National League ) is the top division of the National League . It is also the highest league within the National League system and the fifth highest league in English football overall.


The league was founded in 1979 as a merger of clubs from the Northern Premier League and the Southern League under the name Alliance Premier League . This was the first attempt to install a national league below the Football League and led to a significant improvement in the quality of football in the lower divisions and the financial situation of the top clubs in amateur football. Another consequence was that from 1986 the Football League accepted an automatic promotion and relegation regulation between the Conference (as it is now called in short form) and the lowest division in professional football (then the Fourth Division ).

From the 2002/03 season, the league was awarded a second promotion place, which is played in a play-off mode between the clubs that are in a position between second and fifth in the final table at the end of a season. Before the automatic promotion regulation, the league could be withheld a promotion place if the master did not have the economic prerequisites for professional football. Then this place was forwarded to the next placed club that could fulfill this. In the 2004/05 season, the Football Conference was expanded to include two more sub-leagues, Conference North and Conference South . The last three clubs from the Conference National relegate to either Conference North or Conference South at the end of the season, depending on the regional location.

At the end of the 2005/06 season, the Conference National was expanded from 22 to 24 participating clubs. This was realized by the fact that only two clubs had to relegate, but four newcomers from Conference North and Conference South were added. According to this one-off regulation, four clubs will be relegated from the 2006/07 season, with four newcomers from each of the lower leagues being added.

In 2013 a sponsorship with the online payment service provider Skrill was concluded. Then the league was named The Skrill Premier . This collaboration only lasted a year until the entire Football Conference received sponsorship from the leasing broker Vanarama .

Teams in the 2020/21 season

National League winner

season master Playoff winner
1979/80 Altrincham FC
1980/81 Altrincham FC
1981/82 FC Runcorn
1982/83 Enfield FC
1983/84 Maidstone United
1984/85 Wealdstone FC
1985/86 Enfield FC
1986/87 Scarborough FC *
1987/88 Lincoln City *
1988/89 Maidstone United *
1989/90 Darlington FC *
1990/91 FC Barnet *
1991/92 Colchester United *
1992/93 Wycombe Wanderers *
1993/94 Kidderminster Harriers
1994/95 Macclesfield Town
1995/96 Stevenage Borough
1996/97 Macclesfield Town *
1997/98 Halifax Town *
1998/99 Cheltenham Town *
1999/2000 Kidderminster Harriers *
2000/01 Rushden & Diamonds *
2001/02 Boston United *
2002/03 Yeovil Town * Doncaster Rovers *
2003/04 Chester City * Shrewsbury Town *
2004/05 FC Barnet * Carlisle United *
2005/06 Accrington Stanley * Hereford United *
2006/07 Dagenham & Redbridge * Morecambe FC *
2007/08 Aldershot Town * Exeter City *
2008/09 Burton Albion * Torquay United *
2009/10 Stevenage Borough * Oxford United *
2010/11 Crawley Town * AFC Wimbledon *
2011/12 Fleetwood Town * York City *
2012/13 Mansfield Town * AFC Newport County *
2013/14 Luton Town * Cambridge United *
2014/15 FC Barnet * Bristol Rovers *
2015/16 Cheltenham Town * Grimsby Town *
2016/17 Lincoln City * Forest Green Rovers *
2017/18 Macclesfield Town * Tranmere Rovers *
2018/19 Leyton Orient * Salford City *
2019/20 AFC Barrow * Harrogate Town *
* Promotion to the Football League ( Fourth Division until 1991, Third Division between 1992 and 2003 and Football / EFL League Two since 2004)

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