Northern Ireland football is categorised into three levels: senior, intermediate and junior. Clubs attain intermediate status by fulfilling certain criteria (e.g. owning or leasing its own enclosed ground). Senior status requires clubs to reach stricter criteria. National leagues exist at senior and intermediate level. All junior leagues and intermediate are organised on a national basis.
Regionally, there are four regional football associations: the North East Ulster Football Association (also known as the County Antrim & District Football Association), the Mid-Ulster Football Association, the North West of Ireland Football Association and the Fermanagh & Western Football Association.
The IFA Premiership, which is the national league of Northern Ireland, is one of three senior leagues in Northern Ireland, and consists of twelve semi-professional clubs. Each club must possess a domestic licence in order to attain or retain membership of the Premiership.
At regional level, three of the four regional FAs organises its own senior cup competition. The North East Ulster Football Association runs the County Antrim Shield; the Mid-Ulster Football Association organises the Mid-Ulster Cup and the North West of Ireland Football Association organises the North West Senior Cup.
There is one national intermediate league. The IFA Championship has two divisions: Championship 1 and Championship 2. One club is automatically promoted from the Championship to the Premiership at the end of each season, and one club is relegated to the Championship from the Premiership. In addition, there is a play-off between the Championship runners-up and the second-bottom-placed team in the Premiership. In the event, however, that the Championship winners do not possess a domestic licence, there is no automatic promotion and, instead, there is a play-off between the runners-up and the bottom-placed Premiership team. In the event that neither the Championship winners nor the runners-up possess a domestic licence, there is no promotion.
As of 2010-11, a "pyramid" system has been introduced in Northern Ireland, with the possibility of promotion and relegation between the Championship and the four regional intermediate leagues, namely:
- Ballymena & Provincial Intermediate League
- Mid-Ulster Football League
- Northern Amateur League
- Northern Ireland Intermediate League
Clubs in these leagues may only gain promotion to the Championship if they win their respective league championship and meet the necessary criteria. In the event that more than one league champion meets the criteria, only one will be promoted, to be decided by a play-off or series of play-offs.
At national level there is one intermediate cup competition: the Intermediate Cup. At regional level, each of the four regional FAs organises its own cup competition. The North East Ulster Football Association runs the Steel & Sons Cup; the Mid-Ulster Football Association organises the Bob Radcliffe Cup; the North West of Ireland Football Association organises the Craig Memorial Cup; and the Fermanagh & Western Football Association organises the Fermanagh & Western Intermediate Cup.
There are numerous junior leagues in Northern Ireland, including junior divisions of the Northern Amateur League and the Mid-Ulster League. The term "junior" is not related to the age of the players but the fact that the clubs are at amateur level.
There is one national junior cup competition: the Irish Junior Cup. At regional level, each of the four regional FAs organises its own cup competition. The North East Ulster Football Association runs the County Antrim Junior Shield; the Mid-Ulster Football Association organises the Mid-Ulster Shield, the North West of Ireland Football Association organises the North-West Junior Cup, and the Fermanagh & Western Football Association organises the Mulhern Cup.
The current systemEdit
For each division, its official name and number of clubs is given:
IFA Championship 1
IFA Championship 2
At national level, from 1890 until 1951 there was only one league the Irish Football League, which operated at senior level.
In 1951, the B Division was created at intermediate level.
In 1977, the B Division split into Section 1 and Section 2.
In 1995, the Irish Football League split into two senior divisions: the Premier Division and the First Division.
In 1999, the B Division Section 1 was renamed the Second Division and Section 2 was renamed the Reserve League.
In 2003, the Irish Premier League was created as the single senior league in Northern Ireland. The Irish Football League First Division reverted to intermediate status alongside the Second Division.
In 2004, the IFA Intermediate League (First and Second Divisions) replaced the Irish Football League.
In 2009, the IFA Championship was expanded and divided into two divisions and the IFA Interim Intermediate League folded.
In 2010, a pyramid system was introduced, with the possibility of promotion and relegation between the Championship and the four regional intermediate leagues.
National league system since 1890Edit
|1890-1951||Irish Football League||none|
|1951-1977||Irish Football League B Division|
|1977-1995||Irish Football League B Division Section 1||Irish Football League B Division Section 2|
|1995-1999||Irish Football League Premier Division|
Irish Football League First Division
|1999-2003||Irish Football League Second Division||Irish Football League Reserve League|
|2003-2004||Irish Premier League||Irish Football League First Division|
Irish Football League Second Division
|IFA Reserve League|
|2004-2008||IFA Intermediate League First Division|
IFA Intermediate League Second Division
|2008-2009||IFA Premiership||IFA Championship|
IFA Interim Intermediate League
|2009-||IFA Championship 1|
IFA Championship 2
† Senior clubs' reserve teams have intermediate status and compete against other intermediate teams in many competitions.
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Northern Irish Football Leagues. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with UK Football Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|