Heartbreak in the playoffs last year, automatic promotion this year. Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham are finally going to the football league.
Promotion from National League was a tense affair, with Notts County matching the club from Wales punch for punch. The season was full of twists and turns as Notts County and Wrexham breached the 100-pt mark, a first for National League football.
However, what league are Wrexham promoted to? Why are there calls for two promotion spots from National League and what is the scenario currently? Here’s a look at the quirky English football pyramid to understand what league Wrexham are promoted to, what it will take to stay there, and who will join Wrexham.
What league are Wrexham promoted to?
Wrexham have won promotion to the 4th tier of English football, i.e., EFL League Two, the last tier of “professional football”.
The leagues in English football pyramid are divided into three categories- Professional, Semi-Professional, and Amateur.
Currently, Wrexham have won the Vanarama National League, the 5th tier of English football, and the first tier of semi-professional football. This gives them an automatic promotion spot to EFL League Two, where one of the oldest football clubs in the world will ply their trade for the first time in 15 years.
The promotion and relegation system in Vanarama National League is as follows:
1st place- Automatic promotion to League Two
2nd to 7th- Qualify for promotion playoffs.
From here, the 4th placed team faces the 7th placed team in a knockout game (Eliminator 1) and a similar game ((Eliminator 2) takes place between the 5th and 6th placed teams.
The 2nd and 3rd placed teams play the winners of Eliminator 1 and 2 respectively. Winners of these games then face off to determine the second and final team to be promoted from the National League.
Last year, Wrexham finished 2nd in the league phase but lost to Grimsby Town in the National League Playoff semifinal.
Wrexham in League 2- How does it work there?
Wrexham will start the next season in the 4th tier of English football. There are four tiers of professional football in England- Premier League, Championship, League One, and League Two.
Effectively, Wrexham have now taken the jump from semi-pro football to professional football. At League Two level, Wrexham will be subjected to the same rules and regulations that govern English professional leagues, like Financial Fair Play.
However, unlike National League, which has only two promotion spots, EFL League Two has four promotion spots. The top three teams in the league phase are promoted to EFL League One (Third tier of English football) automatically, while the fourth team is decided by playoffs which take place as direct semifinals- 4th vs 7th, and 5th vs 6th. The winners face each other in the final where one team gets promoted.
However, there are only two teams relegated to the National League instead of four. The two teams with the lowest points tally in the league phase get automatically relegated to National League, the tournament which Wrexham are promoted from.
How much will Wrexham get for promotion?
Wrexham players are set to win bonuses worth £200,000 from their bosses for gaining promotion to League Two. Furthermore, by being in the professional football tier, they are also entitled to a payment of £1.1 million just for being in League Two.
Besides the monetary benefit, being in League Two makes them eligible for participation in EFL Cup (English Football League Cup, also known as Carabao Cup for sponsorship reasons) and EFL Trophy (also known as Papa John’s Trophy for sponsorship reasons).
Teams in non-league football (5th tier and below) instead take part in FA Trophy and FA Vase, far less prestigious competitions in comparison.
Promotion and relegation in professional leagues
League One (Third tier)- Top two gain automatic promotion; 3rd to 6th in playoffs to decide the third team to be promoted; the bottom four are relegated
Championship (Second tier)- The promotion system is the same as League One; the bottom three are relegated.
Premier League (Top tier)- bottom three relegated.
However, despite Wrexham’s meteoric rise under their new owners, their first expectation next season in EFL League Two would be to consolidate their position in professional football and avoid sliding back into the semi-pro 5th tier.