Southern League: General Information

The Southern League was formed in 1893 as a competition for clubs in the south of England who did not wish to be restricted by the amateur regulations. The Football League, started in 1888 for professional teams, was initially restricted to Northern and Midland clubs, and the Southern League was a reaction to this. Southern League teams did well against Football League opposition when they met in the F.A. Cup: Tottenham Hotspur won the F.A. Cup when in the Southern League in 1901.

In 1920 Division 1 of the Southern League was renamed Football League Division 3 South. The remaining Southern League clubs were joined by the reserve teams of many Football League sides and the competition went into a decline in terms of both quality and numbers.

In the 1950s the Southern League expanded again, dropping the reserve teams and undergoing the first of many reorganisations. From 1958/59 there were two divisions, initially Southern and Northern, later Premier and First, until in 1971 the present configuration of Premier division, Division 1 South and Division 1 Midland was achieved. In 1979 13 Premier division teams were lost to the newly-formed Alliance Premier League and the Southern League was reduced to two divisions for a short time, but soon reverted to three.

The champions of the Southern (now Beazer Homes) League are normally accepted into the Alliance Premier League {APL} (now called the GM Vauxhall Conference), assuming their stadium and facilities are adequate. The Southern League also accepts about three applications for membership each year from lower leagues which belong to the Southern branch of the Pyramid, though the number of lower leagues on this branch means that no champions are accepted automatically. Since 1983/84 the numbers of acceptances are:

The Welsh League {wLN} (which covers South Wales, unlike the new national competition, the League of Wales) has also supplied new members to the Southern League in the past, but this relationship no longer holds. The status of the Southern League is equal to that of the Isthmian League {IL} (also Vauxhall-Opel League, Diadora League, ICIS League) and the Northern Premier League {NP} (also Multipart League, HFS Loans League, Unibond League). There is more history in the archive index.

Maintained by Russell Gerrard: