If you are new to the exciting world of football, you may get confused with terms like the Premier League, UEFA, FIFA, and the like. So, we will start with the basics. Let us focus on the football system in England for now, and we will move on to other systems another time.
This is the top level of the structure. In other words, only the best of the best compete in this league. There are 20 teams competing for the title. After each season the bottom three teams get relegated, or demoted, to a lower ranking league. This is the most watched sports league in the world with more than half of the world paying close attention. Teams that you will regularly see at this level are Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Arsenal, among others.
English Football League Championship
This is the second level of the pyramid. Each season the top two teams are automatically promoted to the Premier League, while the next four compete in the playoffs for their chance to climb the ladder. The lowest three teams are relegated to League One. Common teams in this league are Birmingham City, Ipswich Town, Nottingham Forest, and Queens Park Rangers.
English Football League One
The promotion system is the same as in the previous tier. Top two teams get promoted, while the teams that finished 3rd to 6th compete in the playoff tournament. However, the bottom four teams get demoted to the lower tier this time. Some of the 24 teams commonly found here are AFC Wimbledon, Bristol Rovers, Luton Town, and Oxford United.
English Football League Two
Again, we have 24 teams, though it is easier to get a step ahead at this level since it is the top three teams that win the promotion immediately. The next four teams get their shot at the playoffs, as usual. Common teams found at this level are Lincoln City, Stevenage, and Newport County.
The National League is a bit more competitive. It is only the champion that gets to go to League Two, though 6 following teams compete in the playoffs. As with most of the leagues, the number of teams competing is 24. The bottom four teams are relegated to their appropriate league below.
National League North/South
These two leagues are at the same level and their difference is, as suggested by their names, purely geographical. Each of them boasts 22 teams. The champions are promoted, placements 2 to 7 compete in the playoffs and the winners of each playoff get a placement in the National League. If the teams end up among the last three, they are relegated to either Isthmian, Northern, or Southern Premiere Division.
At this tier, there are several leagues that run in parallel. The leagues are Northern Premier League Premier Division, Southern Football League Central Division, Southern Football League South Division, and Isthmian League Premier Division. Champions level up, and each league has playoffs where four teams compete. The winners of the playoffs pair against others to determine who gets promoted. Last three teams in each division are relegated. What’s interesting about this tier is the fact that, if there is an unequal number of teams after the promotions and relegations, the teams change divisions to even things out.
There are seven divisions at this level and, believe it or not, there are levels that go even lower than this. It just goes to show the scale of the competition. Each of them has 20 teams which compete at the same time.