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National League: History, dates, teams, schedule & more

The National League is the fifth tier of the English football pyramid and also the highest level of the Non-League system.

The 2022/23 season was one of the most intriguing in the history of the National League, with big-spending Wrexham - under the ownership of Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney - pipping Notts County to automatic promotion.

County did manage to join Wrexham in securing promotion to the EFL though, as they beat Chesterfield on penalties in what was a thrilling play-off final at Wembley.

Chesterfield have had to lick their wounds after that play-off defeat, but they are currently setting the pace in this season's National League, which appears to be as enthralling as ever.

National League 2023/24 Format

A total of 24 teams compete in the National League, but with only one automatic promotion position available to the champions, it is one of the most notoriously difficult leagues to secure promotion from.

The sides that finish second to seventh do still have a chance of securing promotion to the EFL via the play-offs, with the teams that end the regular campaign between fourth and seventh entering at the quarter-final stage, with fourth hosting seventh and fifth entertaining sixth in one-off ties.

The winners of the two quarter-final ties progress to the play-off semi-finals where the teams that finished the regular season in second and third enter the equation, with those higher-ranked sides having the luxury of playing at home.

Whichever teams prevail from those semi-final ties then meet in the final at Wembley, where the winner will secure promotion to League Two.

At the other end of the table there are also relegation positions to fill, with the bottom four teams in the final standings dropping down to either the National League North or South, depending on their geographical location.

National League 2023/24 Dates

The 2023/24 National League season got underway on Saturday 5th August 2023, with all 24 teams in action on the opening day.

Each team plays a total of 46 regular-season matches, with the final round of fixtures scheduled to take place on Saturday 20th April, 2024.

The play-offs will then commence on Tuesday 23rd April, 2024, with the play-off final and culmination of the National League season set to take place at Wembley on Saturday 4th May, 2024.

How to watch the National League 2023/24

TNT Sport - formally known as BT Sport - are showing selected matches from the National League live over the course of the season, as well as a highlights package of all the fixtures.

National League 2023/24 Teams

A total of 24 teams are competing in the 2023/24 National League, including Hartlepool and Rochdale, who were relegated from League Two during 2022/23. They have replaced the now-promoted Wrexham and Notts County.

AFC Fylde and Ebbsfleet United came up in the opposite direction, as they were promoted as the respective winners of the National League North and South.

Kidderminster Harriers also came up as the winners of the National League North play-offs, while it was Oxford City who triumphed in the National League South play-offs to take their place in the fifth tier.

The remaining teams that make up the National League during the 2023/24 season are Chesterfield, Woking, Barnet, Bromley, Boreham Wood, Southend, Eastleigh, Dagenham & Redbridge, Halifax, Oldham, Wealdstone, Gateshead, Solihull Moors, Dorking Wanderers, Altrincham, Aldershot, York and Maidenhead.

National League History

The 2023/24 season is the 45th National League campaign, with the first having taken place during 1979/80 when Altrincham were crowned champions.

It is also the ninth season since the division was rebranded to the National League from the Football Conference.

National League Previous Winners

Barnet and Macclesfield Town are the most successful clubs in the National League's history, as they have both won the title on three occasions.

A further seven sides have lifted the championship twice - Lincoln City, Cheltenham Town, Stevenage (then Stevenage Borough), Kidderminster Harriers, Maidstone United, Enfield and Altrincham.

Wrexham are the current champions, having landed the title for the first time during the 2022/23 campaign.

SeasonChampionsPlay-off winners
2015/16Cheltenham TownGrimsby Town
2016/17Lincoln CityForest Green Rovers
2017/18Macclesfield TownTranmere Rovers
2018/19Leyton OrientSalford City
2019/20BarrowHarrogate Town
2020/21Sutton UnitedHartlepool United
2021/22Stockport CountyGrimsby Town
2022/23WrexhamNotts County

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