Football League Fourth Division

Football League Fourth Division
Founded 1958
Folded 1992
Country England
Number of teams 24
Level on pyramid 4
Promotion to Third Division
Relegation to Football Conference (1987–92)
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
League Cup
Football League Trophy
Last champions Burnley
Most championships Doncaster Rovers, Peterborough United
and Chesterfield (2 titles each)

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, the 4th tier of English football continued as the Football League Third Division, and later became known as Football League Two.


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[1] 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:

Before 1987, the top four teams were 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 introduced in 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.[2] The highest attendance in a fourth-tier playoff final is 61,589 Bristol Rovers Vs Shrewsbury Town in 2009.

Ins and outs

Automatic relegation between the Fourth Division and the Conference was introduced for the 1986–87 season.

Elections to the Football League

SeasonOut from Fourth DivisionIn from Regional LeaguesNotes
1959–60GatesheadPeterborough UnitedPeterborough elected from Midland Football League.
1961–62Accrington StanleyOxford UnitedAccrington Stanley went out of business and their record was expunged.
Oxford elected from Southern Football League.
1969–70Bradford Park AvenueCambridge UnitedCambridge elected from Southern Football League.
1971–72BarrowHereford UnitedHereford elected from Southern Football League.
1976–77WorkingtonWimbledonWimbledon elected from Southern Football League.
1977–78SouthportWigan AthleticWigan elected from Northern Premier League.

Promotions and relegations from Football Conference

SeasonOut from Fourth DivisionIn from Football ConferenceNotes
1986–87Lincoln CityScarboroughLincoln relegated to Football Conference.
1987–88Newport CountyLincoln CityNewport relegated to Football Conference.
1988–89DarlingtonMaidstone UnitedDarlington relegated to Football Conference.
1989–90Colchester UnitedDarlingtonColchester relegated to Football Conference.
1990–91NoneBarnetWrexham 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).
Maidstone United
Colchester UnitedAldershot resigned from the league before the end of the 1991-92 season, while Maidstone resigned before the 1992–93 season started. This returned the number of clubs to 22, which would start the renamed Third Division in August 1992.

Previous League champions

See List of winners of English Football League Two and predecessors.


See Football League Two Play-offs.


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