- Football League Fourth Division
Football League Fourth Division Countries England
Founded 1958 Folded 1992 Number of teams 24 Levels on pyramid 4 Promotion to Third Division Relegation to Football Conference (1987-1992) Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
Football League Trophy
International cup(s) European Cup Winners' Cup (1960-1985, 1990-1992) Last champions Burnley
The Fourth Division (or Division Four) of The Football League was the fourth-highest division in the English football league system from the 1958–59 season until the creation of the Premier League prior to the 1992–93 season. Whilst the division disappeared in name in 1992, it effectively continued as the 4th tier of English football, but as the Football League Third Division.
The Fourth Division was created in 1958 alongside a new Third Division by merging the regionalised Third Division North and Third Division South. The original economic reasons for having the two regional leagues had become less apparent and thus it was decided to create two national leagues at levels three and four. The 12 best teams of each regional league in 1957–58 went into the Third Division, and the rest became founder members of the Fourth Division.
Original members of Fourth Division were:
- From Third Division North: Barrow, Bradford Park Avenue, Carlisle United, Chester City, Crewe Alexandra, Darlington, Gateshead, Hartlepool United, Oldham Athletic, Southport, Workington, York City
- From Third Division South: Aldershot, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Exeter City, Gillingham, Millwall, Northampton Town, Port Vale, Shrewsbury Town, Torquay United, Walsall, Watford
The Fourth Division was also known as Division Four, or informally as the "basement division" of English football, a moniker retained by its successors. Before 1987, the top four teams would be promoted to the Third Division and the bottom four teams were subject to a re-election vote by other league clubs to determine whether they would remain in the league. Automatic relegation to the Conference was not introduced until 1987, the same year the fourth promotion place began to be decided through a play-off.
The highest average league attendance in the fourth division was 19,092 achieved by Crystal Palace in the 1960/61 season. The highest attendance at an individual match was recorded the same season; 37,774 for the Good Friday game at Selhurst Park between Crystal Palace and Millwall.
Ins and outs
Automatic relegation between the Fourth Division and the Conference was introduced for the 1986–87 season.
Elections to the Football League
Season Out from Fourth Division In from Regional Leagues Notes 1959-60 Gateshead Peterborough United Peterborough elected from Midland Football League. 1961-62 Accrington Stanley Oxford United Accrington Stanley went out of business and their record was expunged.
Oxford elected from Southern Football League.
1969-70 Bradford Park Avenue Cambridge United Cambridge elected from Southern Football League. 1971-72 Barrow Hereford United Hereford elected from Southern Football League. 1976-77 Workington Wimbledon Wimbledon elected from Southern Football League. 1977-78 Southport Wigan Athletic Wigan elected from Northern Premier League.
Promotions and relegations from Football Conference
Season Out from Fourth Division In from Football Conference Notes 1986-87 Lincoln City Scarborough Lincoln relegated to Football Conference. 1987-88 Newport County Lincoln City Newport relegated to Football Conference. 1988-89 Darlington Maidstone United Darlington relegated to Football Conference. 1989-90 Colchester United Darlington Colchester relegated to Football Conference. 1990-91 None Barnet Wrexham finished in bottom place but was not relegated due to expansion of the First Division to 22 clubs (Fourth Division was thus expanded to 23 clubs). 1991-92 Aldershot
Colchester United Aldershot went out of business during the season and their record was expunged.
Maidstone resigned before the 1992-93 season started, restoring the number of clubs to 22, which would start the renamed Third Division.
Played in the Fourth Division and First Division
During the 24 seasons that the Fourth Division was in existence, there were a total of 24 teams that played in the Fourth Division, and which also at some point in the period played in the First Division, the highest level of English football at the time. These teams are sub-divided below depending on the division they were in as of 1958/59.
Clubs that played in the First Division (top level) in 1958/59
- Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Luton Town, Portsmouth, Preston North End, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Clubs that played in the Second or Third Division in 1958/59
- Brighton, Bristol City, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Notts County, Leyton Orient, Sheffield United, Swansea City
Clubs that played in the Fourth Division in 1958/59
- Carlisle United, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Millwall, Northampton Town, Oldham Athletic, Watford
Not in the Football League in 1958/59
- Oxford United, Wimbledon
Previous League champions
Football in England National teams National Football CentreSt George's Park (Burton) League system Domestic cups OthersMasters Football ListsList of clubs · Current managers · Stadiums by capacity · By altitude Football League Fourth Division seasons1958–59 · 1959–60 · 1960–61 · 1961–62 · 1962–63 · 1963–64 · 1964–65 · 1965–66 · 1966–67 · 1967–68 · 1968–69 · 1969–70 · 1970–71 · 1971–72 · 1972–73 · 1973–74 · 1974–75 · 1975–76 · 1976–77 · 1977–78 · 1978–79 · 1979–80 · 1980–81 · 1981–82 · 1982–83 · 1983–84 · 1984–85 · 1985–86 · 1986–87 · 1987–88 · 1988–89 · 1989–90 · 1990–91 · 1991–92
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