The end of the 2019/20 season will see the implementation of the second phase of the FA's National League System restructure designed to create a pure Non-League Pyramid.
This will see the creation of a new league at Step 4, which will be run by the Northern Premier League, with two new divisions at Step 5, these being in the Midlands and the West London/Thames Valley areas.
The effect of this is that there are many extra promotion spots available at the end of the 2019/20 season, with usual relegation also affected.
At the end of January, we took a closer look at the boundaries between leagues and explained in detail the promotion and relegation that are going to happen at the end of the season. You can take another look at that by clicking here.
With another month gone since that article, we thought we would take another look at how things stand across Step 5/6 at the end of February.
From a NWCFL perspective, we will only gain a club if they finish bottom of a Step 4 league, they lose their end of season play-off, and are who is in our geographical area. At present, the bottom four in the two Northern Premier League's are as follows:
|NPL Div One N.W.||17||Droylsden||28||27||0.96|
|NPL Div One N.W.||18||Ossett United||27||21||0.78|
|NPL Div One N.W.||19||Kendal Town||26||20||0.77|
|NPL Div One N.W.||20||Pickering Town||28||15||0.54|
|NPL Div One S.E.||17||Lincoln United||27||27||1.00|
|NPL Div One S.E.||18||Chasetown||26||25||0.96|
|NPL Div One S.E.||19||Wisbech Town||27||17||0.63|
|NPL Div One S.E.||20||Market Drayton Town||27||17||0.63|
Therefore as it stands, we would not appear to directly gain any club who would be relegated to us from Step 4.
From a NWCFL perspective, it is quite simple. The top three in our Premier Division will be automatically promoted at the end of the season. The same applies to the Northern League and Northern Counties East League.
For other 11 Step 5 leagues, the four best runners up on PPG will be promoted automatically, with the other seven leagues going into the Play-Offs against the bottom placed Step 4 teams.
It doesn't affect us, but here are the current 2nd place teams across Step 5. Note that there may be teams in these leagues who have the second best PPG ratio in the league at present, but we are looking at current second placed clubs only.
|Western League||2||Bradford Town||22||58||2.64|
|Essex Senior||2||Hashtag United||25||62||2.48|
|Wessex League||2||Alresford Town||28||62||2.21|
|Midland League||2||Sporting Khalsa||24||52||2.17|
|Eastern Counties||2||Norwich United||26||56||2.15|
|United Counties||2||Loughborough University||25||53||2.12|
|South Midlands||2||Tring Athletic||29||59||2.03|
|Southern Counties East||2||Chatham Town||25||50||2.00|
|Combined Counties||2||Spelthorne Sports||28||55||1.96|
At present then, the Western League, Essex Senior League, Hellenic League and Wessex League would all promote their second club automatically. The remaining seven Step 5 leagues would go into the play-off's against the bottom placed Step 4 teams.
The side finishing bottom in each of the fourteen Step 5 divisions will be ranked on a PPG basis. The two sides with the best PPG will be reprieved, the other 12 will be relegated.
As it stands at the end of February 2020, here are the bottom placed teams across Step 5 ranked by PPG.
|Northern League||20||Northallerton Town||26||19||0.73|
|Combined Counties||21||Hanworth Villa||26||18||0.69|
|South Midlands||21||London Colney||27||13||0.48|
|Northern Counties East||20||Athersley Recreation||25||12||0.48|
|Western League||21||Odd Down Bath||26||10||0.38|
|Wessex League||20||Amesbury Town||26||8||0.31|
|Essex Senior||20||Sawbridgeworth Town||27||8||0.30|
|United Counties||20||Pinchbeck United||24||6||0.25|
|Southern Counties East||20||Greenwich Borough||-||-||-|
From a NWCFL perspective, Hanley Town are bottom at present but they would be repreived as they have the best PPG average of all the bottom placed Step 5 clubs.
It is interesting to note that since we did this exercise at the end of January, there are now five different bottom placed clubs, with a further four improving their PPG ratio. It really does show that every point counts for sides who are bottom of their league.
Note that Greenwich Borough have resigned from the Southern Counties East League. They will be counted as the bottom placed club in that league.
There are no PPG to worry about here. The the top FOUR teams from each Step 6 division will be promoted at the end of the season, the only exception being in the two South West Peninsula divisions which will promote two sides from each of their divisions.
From a NWCFL perspective, it's simple. The top four in our First Division North and First Division South will be promoted automatically to Step 5.
All that can be said for Step 6 relegations is that the bottom TWO sides are liable to relegation to Step 7. If any reprieves are available after promotion from Step 7 is sorted out, then sides starting with the best PPG will be reprieved. Therefore it is vitally important for clubs to pick up as many points as they can.
As it stands at the end of February 2020, here are the bottom placed teams across Step 6 ranked by PPG.
|NWCFL D1S||19||Ellesmere Rangers||26||23||0.88|
|NWCFL D1N||19||St Helens Town||30||25||0.83|
|Midland League||19||Nuneaton Griff||28||20||0.71|
|Combined Counties||19||Eversley & California||24||17||0.71|
|Wessex League||18||East Cowes Victoria||24||17||0.71|
|East Midlands Counties||18||Teversal||22||15||0.68|
|Eastern Counties D1N||19||Felixstowe & Walton United Res||26||17||0.65|
|NWCFL D1S||20||St Martins||28||18||0.64|
|South Midlands||18||Park View||24||15||0.63|
|South West Peninsula D1W||19||St Dennis||24||15||0.63|
|Southern Counties East||16||Snodland Town||23||14||0.61|
|South West Peninsula D1E||19||Torrington AFC||24||14||0.58|
|Combined Counties||20||Godalming Town||26||15||0.58|
|Northern Counties East||19||Harrogate Railway Athletic||23||13||0.57|
|South West Peninsula D1E||20||Sidmouth Town||23||13||0.57|
|South West Peninsula D1W||20||Godolphin Atlantic||26||14||0.54|
|United Counties||19||Huntingdon Town||28||15||0.54|
|Midland League||20||Stafford Town||30||16||0.53|
|Hellenic D1W||15||Newent Town||18||9||0.50|
|Western League||19||Bishop Sutton||24||12||0.50|
|West Midlands (Regional)||17||Cradley Town||23||11||0.48|
|Western League||20||Bristol Telephones||23||11||0.48|
|Wessex League||19||Folland Sports||26||12||0.46|
|Northern League||19||Brandon United||24||11||0.46|
|Eastern Counties D1S||17||Newbury Forest||21||9||0.43|
|West Midlands (Regional)||18||Dudley Sports||21||9||0.43|
|Eastern Counties D1N||20||Wisbech St Mary||29||10||0.34|
|Eastern Counties D1S||18||Fire United||18||6||0.33|
|Southern Counties East||17||Kent Football United||24||8||0.33|
|Northern League||20||Durham City||25||8||0.32|
|Hellenic D1E||17||Abingdon Town||20||6||0.30|
|East Midlands Counties||19||Borrowash Victoria||22||6||0.27|
|United Counties||20||Lutterworth Athletic||25||4||0.16|
|Hellenic D1W||16||New College Swindon||19||1||0.05|
|Northern Counties East||20||East Hull||24||1||0.04|
If there are repreives at Step 6, our clubs are in a good postition at present to get some! From a NWCFL perspective, three of our teams - Ellesmere Rangers, St Helens Town and Steeton - currently have the best PPG across Step 6. The fourth - St Martins - are in ninth place, but a win in their next game would see them with 21 points from 29 games. This would improve their PPG to 0.72 and could put them fourth on this list.
With two months to go, its all to play for any every point counts in the league for all clubs.