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The Blue Square Premier League

England is widely accepted as being the birthplace of football, so it should be no surprise to anyone that England is home to the most active football clubs in the world. Football in England consists of nearly eight different levels of play that range from some of the world’s most powerful clubs in the Barclay’s Premier League, down to local amateur clubs.

The link between the majority of English football’s professional organisations and the local amateur club teams is the Blue Square Premier League. Originally formed in 1979 as the Alliance Premier League, the Blue Square Premier League is at the top of the National League System and consists of roughly 50 different leagues from around the country. In the pyramid of English football, the Blue Square Premier League lands as follows:

• Barclay’s Premier League (1)
• Football League Championship (2)
• Football League One (3)
• Football League Two (4)
• Blue Square Premier League (5)

There are 92 football clubs in the four levels of professional football above the Blue Square Premier League. While all those teams are professional, not all of the clubs in the Blue Square Premier League are professional. The league is a mix of professional clubs and semi-professional/amateur clubs.

The Blue Square Premier League actually makes up the fifth and sixth tiers in the English football system. The league is split into three different leagues, comprising the top level of conference (or non-league) football in England. The pyramid in the Blue Square Premier League is as follows:

• The Blue Square Premier
• The Blue Square North
• The Blue Square South

The Blue Square Premier itself is the fifth tier of English football while the North and South conference make up the sixth tier of football in England. There are currently 24 clubs in the Blue Square Premier and 22 clubs each in the Blue Square North and Blue Square South.

The system of promotion and relegation used in league football (the Premier League and Football League) also applies to non-league football. The top two finishers each year in the Blue Square Premier are promoted to Football League Two, with the bottom two finishers from League Two being relegated to the Blue Square Premier. The bottom four teams from the Blue Square Premier each season are demoted to either the Blue Square North or South. The decision as to which conference they are demoted to is based largely upon geography. The top two finishers from both the Blue Square North and South are promoted to the Blue Square Premier.

While few teams have the financial stability to make the jump from non-league football to league football, there have been a handful of clubs to accomplish the feat in recent years. Doncaster Rovers are the greatest example of this, having played in the conference system from 1998-2003. The club now find themselves near the elite of English football playing in the Football League Championship. In total, 20 clubs have made the move from conference football to some level of the Football League.

Adrian Bryan writes for The Football Merchandise Store the web’s finest collection of Football Souvenirs and Football Merchandise

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