Three up, three down for the National League is long overdue

Before you get too caught up in why the National League has been so long in securing a third promotion spot, just take a look at the four worst teams in League Two this season.

Rochdale, in 21st place, has won just 4 of their 20 matches. Hartlepool United, in 22nd place, have three wins from 21; Colchester United, who are runners-up in 23rd, also have three wins from 21 runs; Gillingham rock bottom hit two stunningly poor 20 wins at the board.

We refer to this to say that two of these teams will remain in the second league next season. Enough is enough. It’s time to stop rewarding mediocrity and give third place to promotion to the National League.

The quality of the National League has reopened the debate for the three-up thirty-down model

With only two teams relegated, League Two repeatedly rewards the mediocrity of the poorer divisions

With only two teams relegated, League Two repeatedly rewards the mediocrity of the poorer divisions

It was not until 1986–87 that automatic promotion-relegation was introduced for the first time between the Fourth Division – now League Two – and the First Division of non-league football.

Lincoln City were the first to be relegated, while Scarborough became the first team to be automatically pushed back into the Fourth Division. Fortunately, the outdated and inappropriate re-election system has been neglected.

From there, it took another 16 years before another place of promotion and relegation was opened up for those on the brink of league status to non-league. And here we are now, two decades later still calling for a third promotion/relegation bid.

sportsmail Exclusively revealed on Friday that the English Premier League We are willing to offer three places for promotion to the National League, as part of its contribution to the financial reset demanded by chairman Rick Barry.

But for non-league clubs, they’ll honestly believe it.

Two of those four clubs bottom of League Two would survive despite poor campaigns

Two of those four clubs bottom of League Two would survive despite poor campaigns

League two drop points at the end of the season

XXI – Rochdale = 15 points (20% win rate – 4/20)

He scored 14 goals in 20 matches, losing 13/20

Expected total for the end of the season: 35 points

22 – Hartlepool United = 15 pips (14.3% win ratio – 3/21)

He scored 18 goals in 21 matches, losing 12/21

The expected total for the end of the season: 33 points

23- Colchester United = 14 pips (14.3% win ratio – 3/21)

Scored 18 goals in 21 matches, losing 13/21

The expected total for the end of the season: 31 points

XXIV – Gillingham = 14 points (10% win rate – 2/20)

Scored 6 goals in 20 matches, losing 10/20

The expected total for the end of the season: 32 points

Would putting three up, three down be better for the game, not just the National League but across the football pyramid from step six right through the game? Yes, of course,” Mark Ives, chief executive of the National League, told the BBC early this season.

I hope at some point in the future we get to this situation where we have three, three down. This is what football deserves.

On and off the field, the evidence in favor of another National League promotion spot is compelling.

Get started – look at attendance.

Twelve teams in League Two – half of the division – draw fewer than 5,000 fans on average to their matches. Nine of them came in at less than 4,000.

Then look at six National League teams drawing over 5,000 – with four (Wrexham, Notts County, Oldham Athletic and Chesterfield) featuring over 6,600 fans per game.

Notts County has recently set a record fifth grade attendance and interest in the league is growing

Notts County has recently set a record fifth grade attendance and interest in the league is growing

However, look closer on the pitch for a more compelling indictment as to why a lack of a third place in promotion – given only four teams can win promotion up to League One – makes less sense.

Only one of the seven teams relegated to the National League since 2018 – Grimsby Town – has been promoted back into the league.

And the two who were to be relegated last season – Oldham and Scunthorpe United – are currently in the relegation zone, staring out at relegation to the Northern League.

What about those eight teams that have promoted since 2018? Well, only Macclesfield Town, ravaged by financial irregularities, disbanded in 2020 and is now climbing its way back up the non-league pyramid, is no longer in the Football League.

Stockport County and Grimsby, who were promoted last season, are five and six points behind respectively in the play-off places. Both think they can make a run in 2023 in a bid to do the double and end up in League One.

Meanwhile, teams like Gillingham are stagnating, having scored just six league goals this season

Meanwhile, teams like Gillingham are stagnating, having scored just six league goals this season

Oh, and since automatic promotion to League Two took effect in 1986-87, no team has suffered immediate relegation.

In fact, to extend the argument, of the 24 teams that were promoted to the Football League from 2009-10 to 2020-21, 21 are still in existence now – and we’ve already mentioned the financial Armageddon that cost Macclesfield as one of the unlucky three. York City and Barnet are the other two.

Of the twenty clubs – Grimsby, Barnet and Macclesfield – who had been repeatedly fouled – were relegated in the same period, less than half – eight – are now back in the Football League.

More evidence needed? How about the fact that since the second promotion place was added in 2002-03 only one club has managed a straight return as champions – Cheltenham Town under Gary Johnson in 2015-16.

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2003 – Exeter City / Shrewsbury Town

2004 – Carlisle United / York City

2005 – Cambridge United / Kidderminster Harriers

2006 – Oxford United / Rushden & Diamonds

2007 – Boston United / Torquay United

2008 – Mansfield Town / Wrexham

2009 – Chester City / Luton Town

2010 – Darlington / Grimsby Town

2011 – Stockport County / Lincoln City

2012 – Hereford United / Macclesfield Town

2013 – Barnet / Aldershot Town

2014 – Bristol Rovers / Torquay United

2015 – Cheltenham Town / Tranmere Rovers

2016 – Dagenham & Redbridge / York City

2017 – Hartlepool / Leyton Orient

2018 – Chesterfield / Barnet

2019 – Notts County / Yeovil Town

2020 – Macclesfield Town

2021 – Southend United / Grimsby Town

2022 – Oldham Athletic / Scunthorpe United

Promoted out of the league

2003 – Yeovil Town / Doncaster Rovers

2004 – Chester City / Shrewsbury Town

2005 – Barnet / Carlisle United

2006 – Accrington Stanley / Hereford United

2007 – Dagenham & Redbridge / Morecambe

2008 – Aldershot Town / Exeter City

2009 – Burton Albion / Torquay United

2010 – Stevenage / Oxford United

2011 – Crawley Town / Asian Championships, Wimbledon

2012 – Fleetwood Town / York City

2013 – Mansfield Town / Newport County

2014 – Luton Town / Cambridge United

2015 – Barnet / Bristol Rovers

2016 – Cheltenham Town / Grimsby Town

2017 – Lincoln City / Forest Green

2018 – Macclesfield Town / Tranmere Rovers

2019 – Leyton Orient / Salford City

2020 – City of Barrow / Harrogate

2021 – Sutton United / Hartlepool United

2022 – Stockport County / Grimsby Town

If the argument is that non-league teams can’t swing enough punches to get relegated to League Two, why can’t the most relegated teams lightly make it to League Five?

Over the past 20 seasons, only Shrewsbury Town (2003-04), Carlisle United (2004-05), Bristol Rovers (2014-15), Cheltenham Town (2015-16) and Grimsby Town (2021-22) have managed to achieve an instant comeback.

It took Luton Town, who pushed for promotion to the Premier League last season, five years to finish their stay in the non-league. Exeter City and Lincoln City, now established in League One, needed five and six years respectively to win promotion.

Stockport, champions of the National League last season, needed 11 years to return to the Football League. Wrexham, one of the favorites this season thanks to the investment of Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhinney, are in their 15th year in the National League.

Few leagues in the world are so hard to escape from. Really hard to do. Much more difficult than avoiding falling into the league.

Relegation from League Two is hard, that’s the simple truth. The team needs to get into serious financial trouble or assemble a team so awful it allows everyone else to relax with elimination for granted.

Notts County are on course to reach 108 points, with Wrexham, second, on 105 points.

Notts County are on course to reach 108 points, with Wrexham, second, on 105 points.

The top four teams in the National League can provide greater league competition

The top four teams in the National League can provide greater league competition

National League drop season points

the first- Notts County = 54 points (69.5% win rate – 16/23)

Scored 59 goals in 23 matches, losing 1/23

The expected total for the end of the season: 108 points

The second – Wrexham = 50 pips (68.1% win ratio – 15/22)

He scored 55 goals in 22 games, losing 2/22

The expected total for the end of the season: 105 points

Third – Chesterfield = 43 points (61.9% win rate – 13/21)

He scored 43 goals in 21 games, losing 4/21

The expected total for the end of the season: 95 points

Fourth – Woking = 40 points (54.5% win rate – 12/22)

He scored 37 goals in 22 matches, losing 6/20

The expected total for the end of the season: 84 points

Gillingham is that team this season. Six goals he has scored in 20 league matches so far and he has taken root at the top of the table. In their current points per game (PPG) they would finish the season with 32 points. Colchester United, on the same scale as PPG, would finish even worse, with just 31 points.

Note that 12 teams in the National League have already accumulated 30 or more points in the middle of the season. Note also that at least one of Notts County (108 points predicted via PPG), Wrexham (105 points predicted via PPG) and Chesterfield (95 points predicted via PPG) will remain in the National League for 2023-24.

Aside from those three, watch Boreham Wood work his way through the league teams on his way to the FA Cup fifth round last season. They’ve already beaten Bristol Rovers this season to reach the Third Round and you wouldn’t bet on them handing over Accrington Stanley in the Fourth Round.

“It’s a self-serving argument” and “Turkeys need to vote for Christmas” are tired rhetoric now.

Any change to the Premier League’s system of promotion and relegation would need to be approved by a majority of clubs – a sticking point, no doubt.

But League Two must stop rewarding mediocrity and start increasing competition. Enough is enough.

The National League has held talks

The National League had “constructive” talks about switching to a three-down, three-down

#National #League #long #overdue

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