The professional sports landscape outside of the United States is much different. The sports association manages the league, but each team and their players are independently owned. There is no league ownership, so how do teams get allocated to their spots in different leagues?
The English Football Structure is a pyramid, the top tier being the Premier League, and the bottom base going all the way to amateur leagues. All leagues fall under “The FA” the English Football Association regardless of their level in the Tier or their professional status. There are approximately 150 leagues with over 400 divisions in total. All of these pieces have promotion/relegation systems for their various divisions and leagues all the way through the 11 officially recognized Tiers. However, the tiers unofficially continue far beyond that level (to tier 22).
Here are the top 5 of the 11 official tiers:
(Tier Level) – (Sponsorship) Name of Division
Tier One – Premier Division
There is no promotion from the Premier League as it is the pinnacle of English Soccer. The bottom three relegated to the Championship League.
Tier Two – (Coca-Cola) Championship League
Three promoted from the Championship with the top two places being automatic and the 3rd through 6th place teams having a single elimination playoff.
Tier Three – (Sky Bet) League One
Three promoted from League One with the top two places being automatic and the 3rd through 6th place teams having a single elimination playoff. The bottom four teams are relegated to League Two.
Tier Four – (Sky Bet) League Two
Four teams are promoted from League Two with the top three places being automatic and the 4th through 7th place teams having a single elimination playoff. The bottom two teams are relegated to the National League.
Tier Five – (Vanarama) National League
Two teams are promoted from the National League with only the top place being automatic and the 2nd through 7th place teams having a single elimination playoff. The bottom four teams are relegated to the National League North/South.
After this point, each lower Tier has one or many feeder leagues, generally these teams are semi-pro or amateur and have a relatively small budget to work with. The remaining levels are scattered across England in various regional or county-based divisions, and many of these divisions have only a single promotion spot guaranteed. There are North, South, and Central county leagues that further subdivide the regions and provide an opportunity for the aforementioned ~400 teams.