Conference National


Conference National
Conference National
Countries  England
 Wales
Founded 1979
(as Alliance Premier League)
Number of teams 24
Levels on pyramid 5
Promotion to League Two
Relegation to Conference North
Conference South
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
FA Trophy
Conference League Cup
Current champions Crawley Town
(2010–11)
TV partners Premier Sports
Website Conference
2011–12 Football Conference

Conference National (currently named the Blue Square Bet Premier for sponsorship reasons)[1] is the top division of the Football Conference in England. It is the highest level of the National League System and fifth highest of the overall English football league system. While all of the clubs in the top four tiers of English football are full-time professional, the Conference National has a mixture of full-time and semi-professional clubs. The Conference National is the lowest nationwide division in the English football pyramid.

Contents

History

The league was formed as the Alliance Premier League in 1979, coming into force for the 1979–80 season. It was the first attempt to create a fully national league underneath the Football League, drawing its clubs from the Northern Premier League and the Southern League. It greatly improved the quality of football at this lower level, as well as improving the financial status of the top clubs. This was reflected in 1986–87, when the Football League began accepting direct promotion and relegation between the Conference (which the league had been renamed by then) and the bottom division of the Football League which at that time was known as the Football League Fourth Division and is now Football League Two. The first team to be promoted by this method was Scarborough and the first team relegated was Lincoln City, who regained their Football League status a year later as Conference champions.

The league's first sponsors were Gola, who sponsored it during the 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons. When Gola's sponsorship ceased, carmaker Vauxhall Motors — the British subsidiary of American combine General Motors — took over and sponsored the league until the end of the 1997–98 season. The 1998–99 Conference campaign began without sponsors for the Conference, but just before the end of the season a sponsorship was agreed with Nationwide Building Society. This lasted until the end of the 2006–07 season, after which current sponsors Blue Square took over.

Since 2002–03, the league has been granted a second promotion place, with a play-off deciding who joins the champions in the Football League. Previously, no promotion from the Conference would occur if the winners did not have adequate stadium facilities. As of the start of the 2002–03 season, if a club achieves the automatic promotion or the play-off places but does not have an adequate stadium, their place will be re-allocated to the next highest placed club, that has the required facilities. In 2004–05, the Conference increased its size by adding two lower divisions, the Conference North and Conference South respectively, with the original division being renamed Conference National. For the 2006–07 season, the Conference National expanded from 22 to 24 teams by promoting two teams and relegating four teams, and also introduced a "four up and four down" system between the Conference National and the Conference North and Conference South.

In April 2007, it was announced all the Football Conference had agreed a three year sponsorship deal with online betting firm Blue Square. Under the deal, all three Conference leagues would be sponsored by Blue Square from the 2007–08 season. This would also lead to a renaming of the leagues with the Conference National becoming the Blue Square Premier, the Conference North becoming Blue Square North and the Conference South becoming Blue Square South.[1]

In April 2010, it was announced that Blue Square would continue to sponsor the competition for another three years. From the start of the 2010/11 season the divisions were renamed, with the Blue Square Premier becoming the Blue Square BET Premier, the Blue Square North becoming the Blue Square BET North and the Blue Square South becoming the Blue Square BET South.

Media coverage

In August 2006 Setanta Sports signed a five year deal with the Conference. Under the deal, Setanta Sports started showing live matches in the 2007–08 season, with 79 live matches each season. Included in the deal were the annual Play Off matches as well as the Conference League Cup, a cup competition for the three Football Conference divisions. [2] Setanta showed two live matches a week, with one on Thursday evening and one at the weekend. [3] In Australia the Conference National was broadcast by Setanta Sports Australia. Setanta Sports suffered financial problems and ceased broadcasting in the United Kingdom on 23 June 2009.[4] Sky Sports broadcast the Conference Play-off final 2010 at Wembley Stadium.

On 19 August 2010, Premier Sports announced that it had bought the live and exclusive UK television rights to thirty matches per season from the Conference National for a total of three seasons.[5] The thirty matches selected for broadcast will include all five Conference National play-offs.[6] The deal with the Football Conference is a revenue sharing arrangement whereby clubs receive 50% of revenue from subscriptions, on top of the normal rights fee paid by the broadcaster, once the costs of production have been met. The Conference will also earn 50% from all internet revenue associated with the deal and allow them to retain advertising rights allied to those adverts shown with their matches. During the 2010-11 season, Premier Sports failed to attract enough viewers to its Conference football broadcasts to share any revenue with the clubs beyond the £5,000 broadcast fee paid to home clubs and £1,000 to away clubs.

Conference National clubs 2011–12

Club Finishing position last season
AFC Telford United 2nd in Conference North
Alfreton Town 1st in Conference North
Barrow 18th
Bath City 10th
Braintree Town 1st in Conference South
Cambridge United 17th
Darlington 7th
Ebbsfleet United 3rd in Conference South
Fleetwood Town 5th
Forest Green Rovers 20th
Gateshead 14th
Grimsby Town 11th
Hayes & Yeading United 16th
Kettering Town 13th
Kidderminster Harriers 6th
Lincoln City 23rd in League Two
Luton Town 3rd
Mansfield Town 12th
Newport County 9th
Southport 21st (Reprieved)
Stockport County 24th in League Two
Tamworth 19th
Wrexham 4th
York City 8th

Past Conference National winners

Season Winner Playoff Winner
1979–80 Altrincham1
1980–81 Altrincham1
1981–82 Runcorn1
1982–83 Enfield1
1983–84 Maidstone United1
1984–85 Wealdstone1
1985–86 Enfield1
1986–87 Scarborough
1987–88 Lincoln City
1988–89 Maidstone United
1989–90 Darlington
1990–91 Barnet
1991–92 Colchester United
1992–93 Wycombe Wanderers
1993–94 Kidderminster Harriers2
1994–95 Macclesfield Town2
1995–96 Stevenage Borough2
1996–97 Macclesfield Town
1997–98 Halifax Town
1998–99 Cheltenham Town
1999–00 Kidderminster Harriers
2000–01 Rushden & Diamonds
2001–02 Boston United3
2002–03 Yeovil Town Doncaster Rovers
2003–04 Chester City Shrewsbury Town
2004–05 Barnet Carlisle United
2005–06 Accrington Stanley Hereford United
2006–07 Dagenham & Redbridge Morecambe
2007–08 Aldershot Town Exeter City
2008–09 Burton Albion Torquay United
2009–10 Stevenage Borough Oxford United
2010–11 Crawley Town AFC Wimbledon
  • ^1 No promotion to the Football League until 1987.
  • ^2 No promotion to the Football League due to stadium not being adequate for the Football League until 1997.
  • ^3 Boston United were allowed to retain their championship title and subsequent promotion to the Football League despite having been found guilty of serious financial misconduct during their title winning season. Following their later relegation back from the Football League at the end of the 2006–07 season, due to ongoing financial concerns and irregularities at the club, Boston were relegated a further division and placed in the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League.

Conference National play-off results

Season First Semi-final (2nd vs 5th) Second Semi-final (3rd vs 4th) Final
2002–03 Dagenham & Redbridge 2–1 Morecambe

Morecambe 2–1 Dagenham & Redbridge
Dagenham won 3–2 on penalties

Doncaster Rovers 1–1 Chester City

Chester City 1–1 Doncaster Rovers
Doncaster won 4–3 on penalties

Doncaster Rovers 3–2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Doncaster won with a golden goal
(Match Report)
2003–04 Aldershot Town 1–1 Hereford United

Hereford United 0–0 Aldershot Town
Aldershot won 4–2 on penalties

Barnet 2–1 Shrewsbury Town

Shrewsbury Town 1–0 Barnet
Shrewsbury won 5–3 on penalties

Aldershot Town 1–1 Shrewsbury Town
Shrewsbury won 3–0 on penalties
(Match Report)
2004–05 Aldershot Town 1–0 Carlisle United

Carlisle United 2–1 Aldershot Town
Carlisle won 5–4 on penalties

Stevenage Borough 1–1 Hereford United

Hereford United 0–1 Stevenage Borough

Carlisle United 1–0 Stevenage Borough

(Match Report)

2005–06 Halifax Town 3–2 Grays Athletic

Grays Athletic 2–2 Halifax Town

Morecambe 1–1 Hereford United

Hereford United 3–2 Morecambe

Hereford United 3–2 Halifax Town
after extra time
(Match Report)
2006–07 Exeter City 0–1 Oxford United

Oxford United 1–2 Exeter City
Exeter won 4–3 on penalties

York City 0–0 Morecambe

Morecambe 2–1 York City

Morecambe 2–1 Exeter City

(Match Report)

2007–08 Burton Albion 2–2 Cambridge United

Cambridge United 2–1 Burton Albion

Exeter City 1–2 Torquay United

Torquay United 1–4 Exeter City

Cambridge United 0–1 Exeter City

(Match Report)

2008–09 Stevenage Borough 3–1 Cambridge United

Cambridge United 3–0 Stevenage Borough

Torquay United 2–0 Histon

Histon 1–0 Torquay United

Cambridge United 0–2 Torquay United

(Match Report)

2009–10 Luton Town 0–1 York City

York City 1–0 Luton Town

Oxford United 2–0 Rushden & Diamonds

Rushden & Diamonds 1–1 Oxford United

Oxford United 3–1 York City

(Match Report)

2010–11 Fleetwood Town 0–2 AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon 6–1 Fleetwood Town

Wrexham 0–3 Luton Town

Luton Town 2–1 Wrexham

AFC Wimbledon 0–0 Luton Town
AFC Wimbledon won 4–3 on penalties
(Match Report)

Conference National stadia 2010–11

Home Club Stadium Name Capacity
Wrexham Racecourse Ground 15,500
Gateshead Gateshead International Stadium 11,800
Stockport County Edgeley Park 10,500
Luton Town Kenilworth Road 10,226
Mansfield Town Field Mill 10,000
Darlington The Darlington Arena 25,000 [notes 1]
Cambridge United Abbey Stadium 9,847
Grimsby Town Blundell Park 9,546
York City Bootham Crescent 9,196
Bath City Twerton Park 8,840
Hayes & Yeading United Church Road 6,500
Kettering Town Nene Park 6,441
Kidderminster Harriers Aggborough 6,238
Southport Haig Avenue 6,008
Fleetwood Town Highbury Stadium 5,500
Forest Green Rovers The New Lawn 5,147
AFC Wimbledon Kingsmeadow 4,720
Newport County Newport Stadium 4,700
Barrow Holker Street 4,256
Tamworth The Lamb Ground 4,000
Histon Bridge Road 3,800
  1. ^ The Darlington Arena can seat up to 25,000, but is restricted to 10,000 by local planning laws.

Records

  • Most wins in a season: 31 4Aldershot Town (2007–08), Crawley Town (2010-11)
  • Most consecutive wins: 12Burton Albion (2008–09)
  • Fewest defeats in a season: 3Yeovil Town (2002–03), Crawley Town (2010-11)
  • Most goals scored in a season: 103Barnet (1990–91), Hereford United (2003–04)
  • Fewest goals conceded in a season: 24Kettering Town (1993–94) / Stevenage Borough (2009–10)
  • Most points in a season: 105 4 — Crawley Town (2010-11)
  • Fewest points in a season: 18 5Leigh RMI (2004–05)
  • Highest goal difference: 63Yeovil Town (2002–03), Crawley Town (2010-11)
  • Biggest win: 9–0 — Runcorn beat Enfield (3 March 1990), Sutton United beat Gateshead (22 September 1990), Hereford United beat Dagenham & Redbridge (27 February 2004), Rushden & Diamonds beat Weymouth (21 February 2009)
  • Record attendance: 11,963 Oxford United vs Rushden & Diamonds at The Kassam Stadium (Play-off semi-final second leg, 3 May 2010)
    • ^4 Stevenage Borough would have achieved 32 wins and amassed 105 points in the 2009–10 season, but 2 wins (and therefore the six points from those games) against Chester City were expunged, after Chester were expelled from the league before the season ended. This left Stevenage on 30 wins and 99 points from 44 games.
    • ^5 Redditch United also finished on 18 points in the 1979–80 season. However, this was under 2 points for a win, and would equate to 23 points under the current system.

References

External links


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