Northern, Southern, and Isthmian Premier League Betting

The Northern Premier League, the Isthmian League and the Southern League are three parallel leagues in the English Football Association’s pyramid system that sit at level 7 and 8, directly below the Conference North and South divisions, which are currently known as the Vanarama Football League North and South. The three represent some of the oldest football competitions in England, dating back to the 1800s. Before 1979 the Premier Divisions of the three leagues were at the highest level of non-league football in England, sitting just below the old Fourth Division. However the formation of the Alliance Premier League (now called the Vanarama Conference National) and the Conference North and South mean that these leagues are now three divisions below league status. Most players at this level in English football are amateurs.

Organisation and Sponsorship

Each of the leagues currently has two tiers: the Premier Division at the top and the Division One tier which has two parallel leagues that are further regionally subdivided. Although the three premier leagues are at the same level on football’s organisational pyramid, they are split into regional divisions to avoid long journeys to games for fans as well as players who are mostly amateurs.

The Isthmian League covers London and surrounding areas to the South and East, while the Southern League caters to clubs in the South West, South Central and Midlands, as well as South Wales. The Northern Premier League covers all of Northern England as well as the North Midlands.

At present, the Isthmian League is sponsored by retail group Ryman, and officially known as the Ryman League since 1997. Ryman is owned by BBC TV show Dragon’s Den panellist Theo Paphitis.

The Northern Premier League was long known as the Unibond League but a new sponsorship deal with another adhesive manufacturer means it is currently billed as the Evo-Stik League.

The Southern League has held several sponsors over the years, the longest running of which were Beazer Homes and shoe manufacturer Dr. Martens. As of 2011, the Southern League is also sponsored by Evo-Stik and is now officially titled as the Evo-Stik South League.

Format of Play, Promotion, and Relegation

The Premier Divisions of all three leagues contain 22 teams which play each other twice over the course of the season, once at home and once away for a total of 42 games. The season starts in August and runs until May each year. As with most European football competitions, three points are awarded for a win, with one for a draw and none for a loss. If teams finish the season on the same number of points the tie is broken by goal difference (goals scored – goals allowed) and if they still can’t be separated then by total goals scored throughout the season.

Teams finishing at the top of the three premier divisions have the opportunity to be promoted to the Blue Square Bet Conference North or South, depending on which is applicable to their geographic location. Northern Premier League teams are always promoted to the Conference North and Isthmian Premier teams are always promoted to the Conference South, with the Southern League teams split across both.

The champions of each division are promoted automatically while the teams which place from second to fifth enter a knockout playoff competition to compete for the second promotion spot. In the playoff, second plays fifth and third plays fourth over a two legged tie and the winners meet in the playoff final which is decided by a single match, with extra time and penalties if necessary.

In total, six clubs are promoted from this level to replace the three clubs each which are relegated from the Conference North and South.

At the bottom of the table, each division loses four teams to relegation each season. These teams are replaced by two teams each from the further regionally subdivided leagues which sit below them. For example, teams relegated from the Isthmian League Premier Division are replaced by teams promoted from the Isthmian League Division 1 North and South.

As well as being allowed to compete in the FA Cup, the Isthmian, Northern Premier, and Southern Leagues each have their own individual league cups which are contested by all 65 or 66 eligible teams.