Northern Premier League

Northern Premier League
Northern Premier League
Countries  England
Founded 1968
Number of teams 66 in total
22 (Premier Division)
22 (Division One North)
22 (Division One South)
Levels on pyramid 7 and 8
Promotion to Conference North
Relegation to Level 9
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
FA Trophy
Challenge Cup
President's Cup
Chairman's Cup
Peter Swales Shield
Current champions FC Halifax Town (Premier Division)
Chester (Division One North)
Barwell (Division One South)
Ashton United (Challenge Cup)
Lancaster City (President's Cup)
Mickleover Sports (Chairman's Cup)
FC Halifax Town (Peter Swales Shield)
Website Evo-Stik League

The Northern Premier League, is one of the regional English football leagues which sits directly below the Football Conference featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs. Geographically, the league covers all of Northern England, and the northern areas of the Midlands. Originally just one division, a second division was added in 1987: Division One. This new division was split twenty years later (2007) into Division One North and Division One South.

Together with the Southern League and the Isthmian League it forms level 7–8 of the English football league system. It has various regional feeder leagues at level 9 and, due to restructuring, from 2005 onwards its champions/playoff winners have been promoted to the Conference North division rather than the Conference National as was previously the case. It is, however, also possible for these teams to be promoted to the Conference South.

Due to title sponsorship deals, the league has been billed under various names, including a sixteen year spell as the Unibond League, the longest such deal in world football.[1] When this deal ended in 2010, a new deal was announced which will see the competition billed as the Evo-Stik League for at least three years.[2]



The Northern Premier League (NPL) was founded in 1968, as the northern equivalent of the Southern League, decades after the other two leagues at what is now the seventh tier of the English football league system, the Isthmian League and the Southern League. At that time they were the highest level non-League division below The Football League, the same level as the other league in Northern England, the Northern League.[3]

Over the next two decades, the NPL successfully displaced its older rival to become the pre-eminent regional competition in Northern England, with the Northern League eventually forced to accept status as feeder league to the NPL. In 1979, upon the creation of the Alliance Premier League, the NPL became a feeder league and fell down one level in the English football league system, and with the Conference's addition of regional divisions in 2004 the NPL was demoted by a further tier and there are now two levels between it and the Football League.


The first sponsors of the NPL were Multipart who sponsored the 1985–86 season. The sponsors after this were: HFS Loans (1988–94), Unibond (1994–2010) and Evo-Stik (2010–present).[4][5]

Current structure

Since 2007, the NPL has had three divisions: the Premier Division, Division One North and Division One South. Prior to 2007 there was just a single Division One.[6]

The Premier Division has 22 clubs, with the champions promoted to Conference North along with the winners of a playoff between the second to fifth place clubs. The bottom four teams are relegated to Division One North or South, or possibly to the Southern League Division One Midlands, depending on their location.

From the 2009–10 season, Division One North and South have 22 clubs each. In each division, the champions are promoted to the Premier Division, along with the winners of a playoff between the second to fifth place clubs. The bottom two clubs in each division are relegated to one of the feeder leagues below provided there are enough suitable promotion candidates from those leagues. The champions of the three feeder leagues covering the NPL area are promoted each season. These are the Northern League, the Northern Counties East League, and the North West Counties League. Clubs in the northern extremities of the Midland Alliance and the United Counties League may also be promoted to the Northern Premier League.

Should there be an unusually large or small number of clubs relegated to and/or promoted to the level of the NPL from Northern England, the National League System (NLS) Committee can order one or more of the NPL's southernmost clubs to transfer to the Southern League (or vice versa) to maintain numerical balance between the leagues.

Division One North and South teams receive a bye to the Preliminary Round of FA Cup Qualification. Premier Division teams receive a bye to the First Round of Qualification.

The league has two knockout competitions. All clubs in the three leagues play in the Challenge Cup with the clubs in the Premier Division given byes to the third round, where they join eleven teams from the lower divisions. In previous seasons, the other two cup competitions, the Chairman's Cup and the President's Cup have been 'plate' competitions, for clubs losing in the early rounds of the Challenge Cup. From the 2007–08 season onwards, however, the President’s Cup is competed for by all the First Division clubs, while the Chairman’s Cup is contested between the two First Division Champion clubs. The winners of the Chairman's Cup then go on to play the Premier Division champions in the Peter Swales Shield.

Previous winners

Season Premier Division
1968–69 Macclesfield Town
1969–70 Macclesfield Town
1970–71 Wigan Athletic
1971–72 Stafford Rangers
1972–73 Boston United
1973–74 Boston United
1974–75 Wigan Athletic
1975–76 Runcorn
1976–77 Boston United
1977–78 Boston United
1978–79 Mossley
1979–80 Mossley
1980–81 Runcorn
1981–82 Bangor City
1982–83 Gateshead
1983–84 Barrow
1984–85 Stafford Rangers
1985–86 Gateshead
1986–87 Macclesfield Town

For the 1987–88 season, Division One was added.

Season Premier Division Division One
1987–88 Chorley Fleetwood Town
1988–89 Barrow Colne Dynamoes
1989–90 Colne Dynamoes Leek Town
1990–91 Witton Albion Whitley Bay
1991–92 Stalybridge Celtic Colwyn Bay
1992–93 Southport Bridlington Town
1993–94 Marine Guiseley
1994–95 Marine Blyth Spartans
1995–96 Bamber Bridge Lancaster City
1996–97 Leek Town Radcliffe Borough
1997–98 Barrow Whitby Town
1998–99 Altrincham Droylsden
1999-00 Leigh RMI Accrington Stanley
2000–01 Stalybridge Celtic Bradford Park Avenue
2001–02 Burton Albion Harrogate Town
2002–03 Accrington Stanley Alfreton Town
2003–04 Hucknall Town Hyde United
2004–05 Hyde United North Ferriby United
2005–06 Blyth Spartans Mossley
2006–07 Burscough Buxton


For the 2007–08 season, Division One was reorganised into North and South regions.

Season Premier Division Division One North Division One South
2007–08 Fleetwood Town Bradford Park Avenue Retford United (not promoted)1
2008–09 Eastwood Town Durham City Retford United
2009–10 Guiseley FC Halifax Town Mickleover Sports
2010–11 FC Halifax Town Chester Barwell

1 Cammell Laird were promoted instead as Retford's ground did not meet the requirements of the higher division.

See also


External links

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