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Northern Premier League - Wikipedia

This article is about the English association football league. For the Tasmanian association football league, see Northern Premier League (Tasmania). For the English rugby union league, see North Premier.

The Northern Premier League is an English football league that was founded in 1968. It has four divisions: the Premier Division (which stands at level 7 of the English football league system), Division One East, Division One West and Division One Midlands (which stand at level 8).

Geographically, the league covers all of Northern England and the northern/central areas of the Midlands. Originally a single-division competition, a second division was added in 1987: Division One, and in 2007 a third was added when Division One split into two geographic sections - Division One North and Division One South. In 2018 Division One was re-aligned as East and West Divisions, then North West and South East in 2019. On 18 May 2021, the FA restructured the football pyramid and created Division One East, West, and Midlands.

Successful teams at the top of the NPL Premier Division are promoted to level 6 of the pyramid (either National League North or National League South), and at the bottom end of the competition, teams are relegated down to level 9, where several regional feeder leagues promote clubs into the league.


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 English Football League, the same level as the other league in Northern England, the Northern League.[1]

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 (which later became the Conference and is now the National League), the NPL became a feeder league and fell down one level in the English football league system, and with the then-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 English Football League.

From 1992-93 to 1994-95 the league's Division One included two non-English clubs, Caernarfon Town from Wales and Gretna from Scotland, who have later joined their countries' league systems. Colwyn Bay, Bangor City, Newtown, and Rhyl have also played in the league.

In 2018, the NPL's member clubs voted 37-27, with one abstention and three clubs' absence, to split Step 4 (level 8) divisions from east to west starting from the 2018-19 season,[2] and in 2019, the league published its successful bid to add another division at Step 4 initially in 2020, further altering Division One into northwest and southeast for travel reasons.[3][4] After the Football Association (FA) deferred its implementation of changes to the NLS, the NPL's additional division was created in 2021 instead.[5]


Owing 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.[6] When this deal ended in 2010, a new deal was announced which saw the competition billed as the Evo-Stik League[7][8][9] until the 2017-18 season.[10] The League announced on 8 July 2019 that a two-year deal for seasons 2019-20 and 2020-21 had been agreed with new sponsor BetVictor.[11] This sponsorship agreement with BetVictor was subsequently terminated early in April 2020 with a replacement, Entain's Pitching In, announced as the next sponsor for 2020-21. At the time of announcement, Entain went by its former name GVC Holdings. Under this partnership, the NPL is marketed as one of the three Trident Leagues, alongside its Isthmian and Southern counterparts.[12]


Since 2021, the NPL has had four divisions: the Premier Division, Division One Midlands, Division One West and Division One East. Prior to 2007 there was just a single Division One,[1] and from 2018 to 2021 Division One was arranged on an north-south, then east-west basis.

The Premier Division has 22 clubs, with the champions promoted to the National League along with the winners of a playoff between the second to fifth place clubs. Theoretically, clubs from the NPL could be promoted into either of the National League's two regional divisions, however, the geographical footprint of the NPL has never overlapped with that of the National League South, therefore (as of 2015) all promoted NPL clubs have been placed in the National League North. The bottom three teams are usually relegated to Division One North West or South East, however NPL Premier Division clubs in the most southerly locales could be placed in the Southern League Division One Central in the event of relegation.

From the 2019-20 season, Division One North West and South East have 20 clubs each. In each division, the champions are promoted to the Premier Division, along with the winners of a divisional playoff. 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 League 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 West and South East 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 currently runs one cup competition, with all member clubs competing in the League Challenge Cup. In the past, the league has run other competitions, such as the Chairman's Cup, the President's Cup and the Peter Swales Shield.

Current members[edit]

Premier Division[edit]

Club Home ground Ground Capacity Ashton United Hurst Cross 4,500 (250 seated) Atherton Collieries Alder House 2,500 Bamber Bridge Sir Tom Finney Stadium 3,000 (554 seated) Basford United Greenwich Avenue 1,600 Buxton The Silverlands 4,000 (490 seated) FC United of Manchester Broadhurst Park 4,400 Gainsborough Trinity The Northolme 4,340 (504 seated) Grantham Town South Kesteven Sports Stadium 7,500 (750 seated) Hyde United Ewen Fields 4,250 (530 seated) Lancaster City Giant Axe 3,513 (513 seated) Matlock Town Causeway Lane 2,400 Mickleover Station Road 1,500 (280 seated) Morpeth Town Craik Park 3,000 (300 seated) Nantwich Town The Weaver Stadium 3,500 (300 seated) Radcliffe Neuven Stadium 4,000 (350 seated) Scarborough Athletic Flamingo Land Stadium 2,833 (586 seated) South Shields 1st Cloud Accountants Arena 3,000 (250 seated) Stafford Rangers Marston Road 4,000 (530 seated) Stalybridge Celtic Bower Fold 6,500 (1,300 seated) Warrington Town Cantilever Park 2,550 Whitby Town Turnbull Ground 3,500 (505 seated) Witton Albion Wincham Park 4,813

Ashton United

Atherton Collieries

Bamber Bridge

Basford United


FC United of Manchester

Gainsborough Trinity

Grantham Town

Hyde United

Lancaster City

Matlock Town

Mickleover Sports

Nantwich Town


Scarborough Athletic

Morpeth Town

South Shields

Stafford Rangers

Stalybridge Celtic

Warrington Town

Whitby Town

Witton Albion

Locations of the Northern Premier League clubs by division

- Premier Division

Division One West[edit]

Club Home ground Ground Capacity 1874 Northwich The Offside Trust Stadium 3,000 Bootle New Bucks Park 3,750 City of Liverpool Rivacre Park 3,300 Clitheroe Shawbridge 2,000 Colne Holt House 1,800 (160 seated) Glossop North End Amdec Forklift Stadium / Surrey Street 1,350 (209 seated) Kendal Town Parkside Road 2,400 Kidsgrove Athletic Hollinwood Road 2,000 Leek Town Harrison Park 3,600 Marine Rossett Park 3,185 (389 seated) Market Drayton Town Greenfields Sports Ground 1,000 Mossley Seel Park 4,500 (200 seated) Newcastle Town Lyme Valley Stadium 4,000 (300 seated) Prescot Cables IP Truck Parts Stadium 3,000 Ramsbottom United Harry Williams Riverside Stadium 2,000 Runcorn Linnets Millbank Linnets Stadium 1,600 Trafford Shawe View 1,500 Warrington Rylands 1906 Gorsey Lane 1,345 Widnes Select Security Stadium 13,350 (all seater stadium) Workington Borough Park 3,101 (500 seated)

1874 Northwich


City of Liverpool



Glossop North End

Kendal Town

Kidsgrove Athletic

Leek Town


Market Drayton Town


Newcastle Town

Prescot Cables

Ramsbottom United

Runcorn Linnets


Warrington Rylands



Locations of the Northern Premier League clubs by division

- Division One West

Division One East[edit]

Club Home ground Ground Capacity Bridlington Town Queensgate 3,000 Brighouse Town St Giles Road 1,000 (100 seated) Cleethorpes Town Linden Club 1,000 (180 seated) Dunston UTS Wellington Road 2,500 (150 seated) Frickley Athletic Westfield Lane 2,087 (490 seated) Hebburn Town Green Energy Sports Ground ? Lincoln United Ashby Avenue 2,714 (400 seated) Liversedge Clayborn 2,000 Marske United Mount Pleasant 2,500 Ossett United Ingfield 1,950 Pickering Town Mill Lane 2,000 (200 seated) Pontefract Collieries The Football Family Stadium 1,200 (300 seated) Sheffield Home of Football Ground 2,089 (250 seated) Shildon Dean Street 4,700 Stocksbridge Park Steels Bracken Moor 3,500 (450 seated) Stockton Town Bishopton Road West 1,800 Tadcaster Albion Ings Lane 2,000 (159 seated) Worksop Town Sandy Lane 2,500 (200 seated) Yorkshire Amateur Bracken Edge 1,550

Bridlington Town

Brighouse Town

Cleethorpes Town

Dunston UTS

Frickley Athletic

Hebburn Town

Lincoln United


Marske United

Ossett United

Pickering Town

Pontefract Collieries



Stocksbridge Park Steels

Stockton Town

Tadcaster Albion

Yorkshire Amateur

Worksop Town

Locations of the Northern Premier League clubs by division

- Division One East

Division One Midlands[edit]

Club Home ground Ground Capacity Bedworth The Oval 3,000 Belper Town Christchurch Meadow 2,650 (500 seated) Cambridge City Bridge Road 4,300 Carlton Town Bill Stokeld Stadium 1,968 Chasetown The Scholars Ground 2,000 Coleshill Town Pack Meadow 2,000 Corby Town Steel Park 3,893 Daventry Town Elderstubbs Road 1,855 Halesowen Town The Grove 3,150 Histon Bridge Road 4,300 Ilkeston Town New Manor Ground 3,029 Loughborough Dynamo Nanpantan Sports Ground 1,500 (250 seated) Shepshed Dynamo The Dovecote Stadium 2,500 Soham Town Rangers Julius Martin Lane 2,000 Spalding United Sir Halley Stewart Field 3,500 (1,000 seated) Sporting Khalsa Guardian Warehousing Arena ? Stamford Zeeco Stadium 2,000 (250 seated) Sutton Coldfield Town Central Ground 2,000 Wisbech Town Fenland Stadium 1,118 Yaxley Leading Drove 1,000


Belper Town

Cambridge City

Carlton Town


Coleshill Town

Corby Town

Daventry Town

Halesowen Town

Ilkeston Town

Loughborough Dynamo

Shepshed Dynamo

Soham Town Rangers

Spalding United

Sporting Khalsa F.C.


Sutton Coldfield Town

Wisbech Town

Yaxley F.C.

Locations of the Northern Premier League clubs by division

- Division One Midlands



Season Premier Division Division One West Division One East Division One Mdlands 2021-22 ? ? ? ?

1 The 2019-20 season was terminated on 26 March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; the teams listed here were in first place in the standings at the time of the termination, but were not recognised as champions.

2 The 2020-21 season was also terminated on 24 February 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic; the teams listed here were in first place in the standings at the time of the termination, but were not recognised as champions.


Since the league's formation in 1968, the following clubs have won promotion to higher levels of the English football league system -

Asterisk indicates club was promoted via play-offs

Cup competitions[edit]

League Challenge Cup[edit]

The league currently runs one cup competition, the League Challenge Cup, which is contested by every club in the league.[13]


Season Winner Result Runner-up Venue Attendance 1968-69 Bangor City 5-2

(agg.) Runcorn 1L:

2L: 1L:

2L: 1969-70 Altrincham 4-3

(agg.) Macclesfield Town 1L:

2L: Moss Rose 1L: 4,400

2L: 6,833 1970-71 Fleetwood 1-1


1-0 (rep.) Macclesfield Town 1L:

2L: Moss Rose

rep. Springfield Park 1L: 1,374

2L: 2,457

rep. 1971-72 Wigan Athletic 4-2

(agg.) Gainsborough Trinity 1L:

2L: 1L:

2L: 1972-73 Northwich Victoria 3-2

(agg.) Wigan Athletic 1L:

2L: 1L:

2L: 1973-74 Boston United 4-3

(agg.) Altrincham 1L:

2L: 1L:

2L: 1974-75 Runcorn 2-1

(agg.) Stafford Rangers 1L:

2L: 1L:

2L: 1975-76 Boston United 4-3

(agg.) Mossley 1L: York Street

2L: Seel Park 1L: 2,212

2L: 711 1976-77 Scarborough 1-0 Runcorn Maine Road 1977-78 Matlock Town 3-0 Boston United Maine Road 1978-79 Mossley 4-1 Northwich Victoria Maine Road 5,054 1979-80 Runcorn 2-0 Lancaster City Maine Road 1980-81 Runcorn 4-3 Marine Maine Road 1981-82 Gainsborough Trinity 1-0 Mossley Maine Road 1,658 1982-83 Burton Albion 2-1 Macclesfield Town Maine Road 2,538 1983-84 South Liverpool 1-1 (wp) Hyde United Maine Road 1984-85 Marine 3-2 Goole Town Maine Road 1985-86 Hyde United 1-0 Marine Maine Road 1986-87 Macclesfield Town 2-0 Burton Albion Maine Road 2,037 1987-88 Goole Town 2-2 (wp) Barrow Maine Road 1,579 1988-89 Mossley 2-1 Fleetwood Maine Road 2,110 1989-90 Hyde United 1-0 Gateshead Maine Road 1990-91 Southport 4-1 Buxton Maine Road 1,700 1991-92 Marine 1-0 Frickley Athletic Maine Road 1992-93 Winsford United 1-1 (wp) Warrington Town Maine Road 1993-94 Spennymoor United 3-1 Hyde United Wetherby Road 585 1994-95 Bamber Bridge 2-1 Bishop Auckland Burnden Park 1995-96 Hyde United 1-1 (wp) Leek Town Burnden Park 501 1996-97 Gainsborough Trinity 1-0 Boston United Sincil Bank 1997-98 Altrincham 2-1 Gainsborough Trinity Saltergate 1998-99 Stalybridge Celtic 2-1 Guiseley 1999-00 Lancaster City 1-0 Worksop Town Bower Fold 669 2000-01 Lancaster City 2-2 (wp) Bishop Auckland Giant Axe 530 2001-02 Accrington Stanley 1-1(wp)

(0-1; 1-0; pens 5-4)
Bradford Park Avenue 1L: Horsfall Stadium

2L: Crown Ground 1L: 471

2L: 1,107 2002-03 Marine 3-0

(agg.) Gateshead 1L: Filtrona Park

2L: Rossett Park 1L: 184

2L: 425 2003-04 Droylsden 4-1

(agg.) Hucknall Town 1L: Butcher's Arms Ground

2L: Watnall Road 1L: 424

2L: 597 2004-05 Matlock Town 5-3

(agg.) Whitby Town 1L: Causeway Lane

2L: Turnbull Ground 1L: 547

2L: 490 2005-06 Farsley Celtic 1-0 Stocksbridge Park Steels Throstle Nest 507 2006-07 Fleetwood 1-0 Matlock Town Wincham Park 426 2007-08 Eastwood Town 3-0 Skelmersdale United Tameside Stadium 372 2008-09 Guiseley 3-2 Ilkeston Town Tameside Stadium 227 2009-10 Boston United 2-0 Retford United Ashby Avenue 503 2010-11 Ashton United 1-0 Northwich Victoria Wincham Park 489 2011-12 North Ferriby United 4-1 Rushall Olympic Coronation Park 256 2012-13 North Ferriby United 1-1 (wp) Curzon Ashton Throstle Nest 179 2013-14 AFC Fylde 1-0 Skelmersdale United Edgeley Park 358 2014-15 Warrington Town 0-0 (wp) Farsley Edgeley Park 731 2015-16 Marine 2-1 Scarborough Athletic Throstle Nest 690 2016-17 Bamber Bridge 2-1 Grantham Town Harrison Park 474 2017-18 Atherton Collieries 2-1 Coalville Town North Street 374 2018-19 Trafford 2-1 Farsley Celtic Broadhurst Park 374 2019-20 No winner 2020-21 No competition held

Defunct competitions[edit]

In the past the league has run three other cup competitions - the President's Cup, Chairman's Cup and Peter Swales Shield.[14]


See also[edit]


External links[edit]