Betting on the English National League
The National League is the fifth tier of club football in England, and the first which is not considered to be entirely ‘professional’, due to the fact that semi-professional clubs can compete. Promotion to League 2 above it will see any club needed to be operated on a solely professional basis, however.
The National League is also the lowest nationwide league in England. It was previously known as the Conference, and was renamed for the start of the 2015/16 season. The reality is that most of the clubs who now compete in this division operate on a professional basis as there are a number of clubs who have spent time in the English Football league (of League 2 and above) and this is a division which is growing in competitiveness and prestige. Average supports are getting bigger and the quality of the play is improving too: all a result of the increase in foreign talent coming to play in the higher echelons of the English domestic game, and the number of players who are being produced by the academies of top clubs. A lot of players who play in the National League would have learnt the ropes at clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool, and seek to make a career for themselves in the lower reaches of the professional game.
The current division features 24 teams who each play each other in a double round-robin format, equating to a marathon 46-game season. English National League title odds obviously factor in the size of squad as it really is a mammoth task for clubs with only a limited number of players to successfully navigate their way through a competition which takes its toll physically.
English National League Odds
The English National League has become more and more competitive as the years have gone by and this is brought into sharp focus by the amount of teams who now regularly compete in the devision who for years were staples of the English professional leagues above it. Chesterfield, Halifax Town, Hartlepool United and Stockport County are just some of the teams who have strong histories in the English Football League, and the 2019/20 edition of the English National League will see one of England’s most historically important clubs join the competition: Notts County – the oldest established football club in the world – were relegated from the football league for the first time at the end of the 2018/19 season.
An increase in sponsorship and TV audiences has seen money become more prominent in the National League, and English National League title odds will usually reflect which team has the best backing. Teams who have recently been relegated from the Football League are also usually prominent at the top of the odds lists too.
The fact is, the English National League continues to grow in prominence and will therefore continue to attract more betting attention as the clubs who compete in the division seek a larger audience.
English National League Title Odds for 2019
English National League title odds for the 2019/20 season will be dominated by the teams who have found themselves in the division after being relegated from the Football League, as well as those teams who narrowly missed out on promotion in the 2018/19 season.
Notts County are one of England’s most well-known clubs, and were relegated for the first time in 2018/19 to the National League, and so will be among the favourites to go back up. Yeovil Town joined County in dropping down a division, but are less well-placed to bounce back immediately – their odds reflect that fact. AFC Fylde lost out in the playoff final which decides the final promotion spot in the National League, and have managed to retain most of that squad that so nearly catapulted the team to League 2, and so should be a strong contender once again: the team are second favourites at time of writing. The outright favourites for the title, however, according to the bookmakers, are Chesterfield, who finished mid-table in the 2018/19 edition of the competition. This odds bias is probably based on the fact that club has one of the largest supports in the division and seems among the most serious about re-establishing the club back in the league system above it.
Like most English National League seasons, however, 2019/20 promises to be anyone’s, and will be decided by the team who is able to last the pace the best.
English National League History
The English National League has only been called such since the start of the 2015/16. For that reason, many football fans will still be more familiar with its old ‘Conference’ moniker. The fifth tier of English football has been in existence since 1979, when it was known as the Alliance Premier League, and since its inception the league has continued to grow in prominence and quality, mostly as a consequence of the improvements at the top of the English football pyramid, and the drip-down effect that has created.
These days the National League is almost entirely professional, which would have been unheard of not so long ago when the clubs in the league played in front of small audiences and with little coverage. The best most clubs could hope for back then was an FA Cup run which would hopefully secure the financial backing to exist for another couple of seasons: such was the hand-to-mouth existence of so many of the clubs.
With some exceptions, things have changed, and now its not a surprise to see National League clubs invest in better player and facilities in the hope to see promotion to the English Football League system above it. Salford City, who secured promotion from the National League at the end of 218/19, were a classic example of a team willing to splash the cash in order to secure a better future. It is a tried-and-tested model, although it doesn’t work for every team.
Assessing English National League title odds at the star of every season can therefore be a process which involves checking out club finances as well as squad lists. Cup runs can also have a positive or negative effect on teams’ performances throughout the season, and in a marathon 46-game season, injuries take their toll too. The English National League as it exists today, however, is almost unrecognizable from the competition which existed for so many years previously.