How Many Tiers Are There in English Football?

England takes so much pride in English football that it has established a system of leagues to maintain a high-level standard of play and worldwide recognition. The National League System in England has at least 10 major football leagues in the country, each consisting of multiple English football divisions. All in all, there are more than 1,000 English football clubs playing in these leagues. That is how massive football is in this country.

The leagues are categorised as professional, semi-professional, and amateur to differentiate them from each other. However, England categorises a notch further by assigning football league tiers for each league. The tiers are hierarchical, wherein tier 1 serves as the most prestigious league in the country. Tier 1 to 4 are all professional leagues in England, and the rest of the tiers belong to semi-professional and amateur leagues. To this day, there are 11 football league tiers in England.

After each season, the top 7 tiers and their football clubs will be assessed for promotions or relegations. The new season makes sure the National League System has systematically restructured the football teams by tier in accordance with their performances from the previous year. This standard is a quality control procedure to ensure all the players and clubs strive for excellence and make it to the top tier of the football hierarchy here in England. For the latest soccer betting odds, check us at


Football Leagues for Each Tier

The Premier League sits on top of the echelon at tier 1. This league has all the major football clubs, football superstars, and big names in England’s football world. The league mainly focuses on marketing the sport and bringing the competition to a top world-class level.

Tier 2, 3 and 4 belong to the Football League Championship (then League 1 and League 2, respectively). The Football League is the oldest football league in England and the second-oldest football league worldwide.

Tier 5 belongs to the Conference National League, while Tier 6 is split between Conference National’s North and South. The former consists of 24 football clubs, while the latter has a total of 44 football clubs with 22 football clubs for each conference.

Tier 7 belongs to 3 semi-professional leagues: Northern Premier League Premier Division, Southern Football League Premier Division, and Isthmian League Premier Division.

Tier 8 is dedicated to 2 subdivisions for each of the leagues in tier 7.

Tier 9 is the top tier for regional leagues happening all around England, and the second tier among these local leagues holds Tier 10.

Tier 11 are for county-based feeder leagues consisting of 300+ football clubs all around England.


History of English Football Tiers

The football league structure in England is a standard process that has been around for more than 120 years. The FA Cup was the first-ever major competition for football clubs from 1872 to 1888, but it was only in 1885 when professional football became legitimised. Despite being around for several years, the FA Cup struggled to become a professional league. The games had low attendance and did not garner public interest. Participating major clubs hardly made consistent revenue to pay its players.

In 1888, Secretary to Aston Villa, William McGregor wrote a letter to the biggest football clubs around the country saying; it has increasingly become more and more difficult to arrange friendly engagements and matches between two football clubs. As a result, last-minute and half-baked matches that do not attract the general public are made. He suggested that the 10 or 12 most prominent football clubs in England must agree to arrange home-and-away fixtures for a season.

After a couple of meetings, the Football League was born in September 1988 with 12 founding football clubs. Excluded 12 football clubs copied the idea and formed the rival league Football Alliance in 1889. Three years later, the Football alliance became Football League’s Division 2 with possible promotion and relegation between the two leagues. That moment was the first implementation of England’s current league structure.

The rapid expansion and development of the Football League reflect having an excellent league structure. The number of participating football clubs steadily rose. Football clubs are now earning money to finance their respective teams and give salaries to players with a bit of profit. Outside of the Football League, many amateur leagues were also starting to follow the mother league as its model.

The English league system has undergone modifications now and then, but the basic format and structure always stuck to it. The promotion and relegation of teams also remained a constant throughout. The English league system is now a standard and has become the model for other football teams around the globe. 

In 1992, the Premier League was born. This powerhouse league automatically impacted England’s football industry because of its heavy financing and robust marketing schemes. The Premier League became the tier 1 league in all of England in no time. However, the English league system’s format and structure has remained the standard it followed for the Premier League.


The Impact of the English League System

The depth and hierarchical model of the league system provides a sense of competitiveness for both players and fans alike. No one wants to remain at the bottom tier, and the lone goal for everyone year after year is to reach the top tier. However, it is never impossible for football clubs to jump from the bottom tiers to the top. Multiple football clubs have already proven such a feat wherein they were able to jump four tiers in just a few years.

The football league system in England remains the standard for football leagues worldwide. While the Premier League continuously attracts international attention while sitting at the top, the other English football tiers continue to harness players’ skills and excite the fans, which is the more important matter. The football league’s system continues to flourish and serve its purpose.

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