Why the new National League play-off system is a bad idea!

As you will probably be aware by now, 18 of the 24 National League clubs backed a proposal to alter the play-off system in the National League at the league’s annual general meeting. 

The new system means that instead of the usual four teams taking-part in the play-offs, six teams will now take part. 

Obviously, the team that finishes first would go up automatically with the second and third placed team qualifying for the play-off semi-finals. The fourth placed team would face the seventh placed team whilst fifth would play sixth. 

From there, the winner of fourth versus seventh would face second, and the winner of fifth versus sixth would face the third placed team, meaning second has the, in-theory, harder match. 

Unlike the original format, these matches would only be one-legged with the match being played at the home ground of the team that finished higher during the season.  

Now, I have two major issues with this format: firstly, why is it that the winner of fourth versus seventh faces second, thus giving the team that finished higher in the regular season the harder match?

Had this system been in place the season that’s just finished, Tranmere Rovers would’ve likely faced Dagenham & Redbridge instead of whoever won out of Aldershot Town and Dover Athletic, a significantly harder fixture than what third placed Forest Green Rovers would’ve had.

The other major issue I have is, promotion should be based on how you’ve performed over a 46-game season, not a two/three game period where anything can happen.

During the season, Tranmere finished nine points above Forest Green yet FGR were promoted to the Football League – while the Super White’s would have to spend another season out of the Football League.

With the new system, that worsens an already bad problem in that a team that finishes seventh only needs to win three games to gain promotion. As there’s numerous evidence to point towards, anything can happen in a 90-minute match of football.

Something else I should add is, given only two teams currently go up automatically from the National League (Which I disagree with), the play-offs shouldn’t exist. In four-of-the-last-five National League seasons, the gap between second and third has been five-or-more points with the average difference being just over six-and-a-half.  

While I fully support play-offs in the Football League, I think they shouldn’t exist in the National League but as it’s pretty obvious that the majority if people approve of them, they at-least should be using the original format that’s currently in use in the Championship, League One and League Two.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Les Parker

    I thick there should be, 3 up and. 3 down, with two automatic going up and a play off between 3,4,5 from the national league and the 22nd team from league two as they do in Scotland, I can’t see the point in these extra play off games, the 7th place team is a third the way down the division, don’t make sense