What is English Football League System


Exploring the heart of English football reveals a unique structure: the seven-tier system. This system shapes the dynamic landscape of the sport in England. Here, we will determine what are the 7 tiers of English football.

Understanding these tiers is key to grasping the complexity and excitement of English football. From the prestigious Premier League to the community-driven regional leagues, each tier offers a distinct flavor of the game. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of English football’s tier system.

The English Football League System, often called the ‘football pyramid,’ is a network of linked leagues for men’s association football clubs in England.

The system consists of a hierarchy of leagues, each containing multiple divisions. Teams can ascend or descend between divisions depending on their performance in each season. This system ensures competitive balance and offers smaller clubs a path to the top.

What does EFL Stand for?

EFL stands for the English Football League. It is an organization that governs the three professional divisions of English football below the Premier League. These are the Championship, League One, and League Two. The EFL plays a crucial role in maintaining the structure and governance of professional football in England.

Who Founded the EFL?

The English Football League (EFL) was founded in 1888 by William McGregor, a director at Aston Villa Football Club. McGregor’s vision was to create a structured football league to ensure regular fixtures for the clubs. His initiative laid the foundation for the modern football league system we see today in England.

How the English Football Pyramid System Works

In the English football pyramid, promotion, and relegation serve as the mechanisms that enable teams to transition between tiers.Teams finishing at the top of their league are promoted to the next higher tier, while those at the bottom are demoted to a lower tier. This system creates a dynamic football landscape, where success is rewarded, and underperformance has consequences.

How Many English Leagues Are There?

There are several leagues within the English football system, but the main focus is often on the top four tiers: the Premier League, the Championship, League One, and League Two. Beyond these, the system extends to include numerous regional and local leagues, forming a vast network of competitive football across the country.

What are the Different Football Leagues?

The English football league system starts with the globally renowned Premier League at the top, followed by the EFL Championship, League One, and League Two. Below these are the National League, the National League North and South, and further regional leagues. Each league is crucial in maintaining the competitive integrity and structure of English football.

What are the 7 Tiers of English Football:

1. Premier League

The Premier League, the pinnacle of English football, is renowned worldwide for its high-quality play, global stars, and intense competition. Founded in 1992, it separated from the Football League to capitalize on lucrative television rights agreements.

With 20 clubs participating each season, it operates under a promotion and relegation system with the EFL Championship. The league is known for its financial might, global fanbase, and some of the most iconic football clubs in the world.

  • Foundation Date: 1992.
  • Number of Clubs: 20.
  • Maximum Clubs: 20.
  • Difficulty: Extremely high; elite competition.
  • Clubs with the Most Titles: Manchester United.

The Premier League is known to be the most toughest and challenging league for any club and player alike. It is also the most watched and intensified football league in the world.

It consists of many elite football clubs such as Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs, Newcastle United, Brighton & Albion, Aston Villa, and much more.

The current dominating team in Premier League is undoubtedly Manchester City for securing at least 14 domestic trophies in the last 10 years.

2. EFL Championship

The EFL Championship is the second tier of English football and is highly competitive, often regarded as one of the toughest leagues in Europe. Teams in the Championship fight for promotion to the coveted Premier League, while also trying to avoid relegation to League One. The league is a mix of former Premier League clubs and those aspiring to reach the top tier for the first time.

  • Foundation Date: 2004 (as the Championship).
  • Number of Clubs: 24.
  • Maximum Clubs: 24.
  • Difficulty: Very high; competitive and physically demanding.
  • Clubs with Most Titles: Newcastle United, Reading.

3. EFL League One

League One is the third tier of the English football league system. This league is a professional level where teams vie for promotion to the Championship. The competition is fierce, as clubs strive for advancement while balancing financial constraints. It’s a critical stage for developing teams and nurturing young talent.

  • Foundation Date: 2004 (as League One).
  • Number of Clubs: 24.
  • Maximum Clubs: 24.
  • Difficulty: Moderate to high; competitive with a mix of seasoned and emerging talents.
  • Clubs with Most Titles: Wigan Athletic, Luton Town.
  • 5 Most Valued EFL League One players: Tom Holmes, Max Bird, Callum Styles, Ronnie Edwards, and Harrison Burrows.

4. EFL League Two

League Two, the fourth tier, marks the last of the fully professional leagues in the English system. Clubs in this league are working towards establishing themselves and moving up to League One. The competition here is a blend of professional rigor and the nurturing of potential, often showcasing clubs on the rise or larger clubs regaining their footing.

  • Foundation Date: 2004 (as League Two).
  • Number of Clubs: 24.
  • Maximum Clubs: 24.
  • Difficulty: Moderate; a mix of experienced and developing clubs.
  • Clubs with Most Titles: Swindon Town, Plymouth Argyle.

5. National League

The National League is at the pinnacle of non-league football and acts as a gateway to the professional tiers. It’s a mix of full-time and part-time clubs, with teams aiming for promotion into the EFL. The league is known for its unpredictability and the potential for underdog stories.

  • Foundation Date: 1979.
  • Number of Clubs: 24.
  • Maximum Clubs: 24.
  • Difficulty: Moderate; a blend of semi-professional and professional setups.
  • Clubs with Most Titles: Macclesfield Town, Barnet.

6. National League North and South

These two divisions represent the sixth tier and are parallel leagues, splitting the country geographically into North and South. They are a mix of semi-professional clubs with ambitions of reaching the National League and potentially entering the professional league system. The competition is local and community-focused, yet ambitious.

  • Foundation Date: 2004.
  • Number of Clubs: 22 in each division.
  • Maximum Clubs: 22 in each division.
  • Difficulty: Moderate; largely semi-professional.
  • Clubs with Most Titles: King’s Lynn Town, Wealdstone.

7. Regional Leagues

The seventh tier is made up of various regional leagues across England. These leagues are largely amateur and focus on community involvement, nurturing local talent, and fostering a love for the game at a grassroots level. Clubs here range from amateur to semi-professional, and the leagues play an essential role in the local football landscape.

  • Foundation Date: Various.
  • Number of Clubs: Varies.
  • Maximum Clubs: Varies by league.
  • Difficulty: Lower; amateur to semi-professional.
  • Clubs with Most Titles: Varies greatly.

What are the Lower Tiers of the English Football League?

8. Level 8 (Regional Leagues – Step 4)

Level 8 consists of the following divisions, which are part of the regional feeder leagues:

  • Isthmian League Division One North
  • Isthmian League Division One South Central
  • Isthmian League Division One South East
  • Northern Premier League Division One East
  • Northern Premier League Division One West
  • Southern League Division One Central
  • Southern League Division One South

These leagues feature semi-professional clubs and are directly below Level 7, forming a critical part of the pathway to higher tiers.

9. Level 9 (Regional Leagues – Step 5)

Level 9 is comprised of numerous local leagues, which are the grassroots of English football. Some of the key divisions at this level are:

  • Combined Counties League Premier Division
  • Eastern Counties League Premier Division
  • Essex Senior League
  • Hellenic League Premier Division
  • Midland League Premier Division
  • Northern Counties East League Premier Division
  • Northern League Division One
  • Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
  • United Counties League Premier Division
  • Wessex League Premier Division
  • Western League Premier Division

10. Level 10 (Regional Leagues – Step 6)

Level 10 of English football consists of several regional leagues. These leagues primarily consist of amateur clubs and are the bedrock of local football communities. Some of the key divisions at this level are:

  • Combined Counties League Division One
  • East Midlands Counties League
  • Eastern Counties League Division One North
  • Eastern Counties League Division One South
  • Hellenic League Division One East
  • Hellenic League Division One West
  • Midland League Division One
  • Northern Counties East League Division One
  • Northern League Division Two
  • North West Counties League Division One North
  • North West Counties League Division One South
  • Southern Combination League Division One
  • Southern Counties East League Division One
  • Spartan South Midlands League Division One
  • United Counties League Division One
  • Wessex League Division One
  • Western League Division One
  • West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division

These leagues provide an essential platform for local clubs to compete and grow, fostering talent at the grassroots level.

11. Level 11 (Regional Leagues – Step 7)

Level 11 is the eleventh tier of English football and includes numerous local leagues. This level plays a crucial role in nurturing local talent and sustaining the grassroots spirit of football. Some of the prominent divisions at this level are:

  • Anglian Combination Premier Division
  • Central Midlands League North Division
  • Central Midlands League South Division
  • Cheshire League Premier Division
  • Dorset Premier League
  • Gloucestershire County League
  • Hampshire Premier League Senior Division
  • Humber Premier League
  • Kent County League Premier Division
  • Liverpool Premier League
  • Manchester League Premier Division
  • Mid-Sussex Football League Premier Division
  • Northern Alliance Premier Division
  • Nottinghamshire Senior League Premier Division
  • Oxfordshire Senior League Premier Division
  • Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League Premier Division
  • Somerset County League Premier Division
  • South West Peninsula League Premier Division East
  • South West Peninsula League Premier Division West
  • Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division
  • Suffolk & Ipswich League Senior Division
  • Surrey Elite Intermediate Football League
  • Wearside League
  • West Cheshire League Division One
  • West Lancashire League Premier Division
  • West Midlands (Regional) League Division One
  • West Yorkshire League Premier Division
  • Wiltshire Senior League Premier Division
  • York League Premier Division

Each of these leagues and divisions plays a vital role in the English football pyramid press ups. They provide opportunities for local talent to shine and for clubs to progress through the ranks. The diversity and number of leagues at these levels illustrate the depth and reach of football in England, underlining its status as the national sport and an integral part of local communities.


What is the hardest league in soccer?

The Premier League is the most challenging soccer league due to its competitive nature and high skill level.

What is the EFL League in English Football?

The EFL, or English Football League, is an organization that governs the three professional divisions below the Premier League in English football.

What are the 7 tiers of English football as of today?

The 7 tiers, in sequence, are the Premier League, EFL Championship, EFL League One, EFL League Two, National League, National League North/South, and Regional Leagues.

What constitutes the 8th tier in English football?

The 8th tier includes regional leagues like the Northern Premier League, Southern Football League, and Isthmian League.

What level is the 9th tier in English football?

The 9th tier is made up of various local leagues, one step below the 8th tier’s regional competitions.

Which league makes up the 6th tier of English football?

The 6th tier consists of the National League North and National League South divisions.

What’s the lowest level in English football?

The lowest tier includes numerous local and regional divisions, often referred to as “non-league” football.

What league does PSG play in?

Paris Saint-Germain or PSG competes in Ligue 1, the top tier of French football.

What is Non-League Div One?

Non-League Div One refers to the various divisions that constitute the eighth tier of English football. It includes Northern Premier League Division One, Southern Football League Division One, and Isthmian League Division One.

Which EFL cup teams have won the most?

Liverpool holds the most EFL titles of 9 followed by Manchester City (8) and Manchester United (6).


The English football league system, with its 7 to 11 tiers, is a fascinating, dynamic structure that showcases the depth and passion of football in England.

Understanding what are the 7 tiers of English football, reveals the depth and dynamism of the sport in England. Each tier in English football has its charm. From the elite Premier League to local leagues, each level is unique. This structure nurtures talent and fuels competition.

The system reflects England’s love for football. It connects dreams and passions across the tiers. This makes English football a key part of the sport worldwide.

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