ASHLEY Vincent welcomed an extra shot at promotion for Worcester City next season and insisted there would be no green-eyed glances at divisions granted more chances.

In the latest part of the FA’s reshape of the National League System, the runners-up in the Midland Football League (MFL) Premier Division will either get promoted or have the chance to go up via a one-off play-off against a club that finishes bottom of one of the leagues above.

It adds to the usual single promotion place available from English football’s ninth tier but there will be an imbalance for the 2019-20 season.

To create an extra division at the level above City’s in the north, the FA is promoting three clubs each from the Northern League, North West Counties League and Northern Counties East League.

The other 11 divisions at that level will only see the champions go up automatically with the four runners-up with the best points-per-game ratio – the number of points divided by the number of games played – joining them.

That then leaves seven runners-up to face the teams that finish bottom of the seven divisions above in a one-off promotion/relegation shoot-out. Clubs will be paired based on geography.

Asked if he had any qualms with City’s division having less promotion places than others at the same level, Vincent replied: “No, and I know the manager would say the same.

“Forget about budgets, this is a big club and if you are going to get out of leagues like this you have to go and win them. That has to be the mindset for the players.

“We don’t want to be relying on second. For me it is a positive that the extra chance is there but either way, we know we cannot perform like we have this season because we have been miles away.

“That chance is great in case we slip up somewhere or if there is an outstanding team but I want that to be us.”


The FA wants to create a perfect pyramid with two divisions feeding into one above at each level that leagues become more regionalised.

At the moment there are two leagues (National North and South) feeding into the National League with four below that.

The problem comes at step four, the level above City’s, which has seven divisions feeding into four above. The promotion and relegation maths become tricky which is why two play-off winners will be denied the chance to go up from step four this season.


There will be one minor change further up the pyramid with National North and South increased from 22 to 24 clubs – that is relevant to City’s level because it creates the need for more teams to be pushed up the system.

That increase is happening because the FA wants to relegate four from National North and South each season, enabling two to go up from all of the step three leagues. The national body has for a number years believed four down from a 22-team league would be too many.

The next part is creating an eighth 20-team division at step four, the level above City’s.

The FA has highlighted a need to have better regionalisation in the north to encourage more clubs worried about travelling to want promotion, hence the places being weighted.


It means the system above City’s level needs to be boosted by 24 extra clubs next season.

There are currently 14 divisions at step five.

Nine clubs will come from the Northern League, North West Counties League and Northern Counties East League, leaving 15 to come from the remaining 11 divisions.

The 11 champions go up with the four runners-up with the best playing records based on points per game.

To give the seven other runners-up a crack of the whip, they will play against the bottom clubs from the seven divisions above – none of which will be automatically relegated.


There are two obvious flaws to the plan.

Firstly, promoting a different number of clubs from leagues at the same level.

How would you feel if City were involved in a Manchester City/Liverpool-style title battle next season, racked up 90-odd points and missed out in a play-off or finished third only to see a team with less than 70 points go up from another part of the country?

Secondly, it is hard to see why there are play-offs for the runners-up.

Surely those finishing bottom of a 20-team division above deserve to go down with all runners-up gaining promotion? It would also mitigate some of the unfairness over promoting extra northern clubs.


The number of leagues at City’s level will increase from 14 to 16 from next season.

One of them is likely to cut into the current MFL Premier footprint, cutting out clubs from the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas, possibly Leicestershire as well.

Four clubs will come up from all leagues below in 2019-20 expect the South West Peninsula League.

Only one team will be relegated from each division at City’s level with the two with the best playing records based on points per game reprieved.


Steps 2-3

Two will go down from National North and National South, a total of four teams.

Two each will go up from the four divisions below, including Southern League Premier Division Central in this region, a champion and play-off winner. The total of eight which gives the divisions above the extra four clubs they need.

After that four will go down each season from National North and National South, promotion from below will remain the same.

Steps 3-4

Ten teams will go down from four leagues at Southern League Premier Division Central level, the bottom two and the two worst third-bottom clubs based on points per game.

The seven divisions below will all promote two, a champion and play-off winner.

How promotion will work after next season has yet to be announced.