English football league system

The English football league system, also known as the football pyramid, is a series of interconnected leagues for men's association football clubs in England, with five teams from Wales (from 2019-20), one from Guernsey and one from Jersey also competing. The system has a hierarchical format with promotion and relegation between leagues at different levels, allowing even the smallest club the theoretical possibility of ultimately rising to the very top of the system.[citation needed] There are more than 140 individual leagues, containing more than 480 divisions.[1]

The exact number of clubs varies from year to year as clubs join and leave leagues, fold or merge altogether, but an estimated average of 15 clubs per division implies that more than 7,000 teams of nearly 5,300 clubs are members of a league in the English men's football league system.

As there are no official definitions of any level below 11, any references to the structure at level 12 and below should not be regarded as definitive.

The pyramid for women's football in England runs separately to nine tiers and some England-based men's clubs play outside the English football league system.


The (English) Football League was created in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor. It was dominated by those clubs who had supported professionalism. The twelve founding members consisted of six from Lancashire (Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers, Everton and Preston North End) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers).

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