Isthmian League
Isthmian League
Country  England
Founded 1905
Divisions Premier Division
Division One North
Division One South
Number of teams 72
Premier Division: 24
Division One North: 24
Division One South: 24
Promotion to National League South
Relegation to Combined Counties League
Eastern Counties League
Essex Senior League
Southern Combination League
Southern Counties East League
Spartan South Midlands League
Levels on pyramid 7 and 8
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
FA Trophy
Isthmian League Cup
Current champions Havant & Waterlooville (Premier)
Brightlingsea Regent (North)
Tooting & Mitcham United (South) ()
Website Official website
Football current event.png
Isthmian League (overall)
2018–19 Premier
2018–19 Division One North
2018–19 Division One South

The Isthmian League is a regional men's football league covering London, East and South East England featuring mostly semi-professional clubs. It is sponsored by Ryman, and therefore officially known as the Ryman League. It was founded in 1905 by amateur clubs in the London area. It now consists of 72 teams in three divisions; the Premier Division above its two feeder divisions, Division One North and Division One South. Together with the Southern League and the Northern Premier League, it forms the seventh and eighth levels of the English football league system. It has various regional feeder leagues and the league as a whole is a feeder league mainly to the National League South.


Before the Isthmian League was formed, there were no leagues in which amateur clubs could compete, only cups. Therefore, a meeting took place between representatives of Casuals, Civil Service, Clapton, Ealing Association, Ilford and London Caledonians to discuss the creation of a strong amateur league. All the clubs supported the idea and the Isthmian League was born on 8 March 1905. Membership to the league was through invitation only. The league was strongly dedicated to amateurism; the champions did not even receive a trophy or medals; the league motto was honor sufficit. Teams less able to compete financially thus gravitated to it rather than the Southern League, while those with ambition and money would move in the opposite direction. Although the league established itself as one of the strongest amateur leagues in the country, routinely providing the winners of the FA Amateur Cup, it was still seen as being at a lower level than the Southern League which was the top regional semi-professional league. By 1922 the league had fourteen clubs and over the next five decades, only a few new members were admitted, mainly to fill vacancies left by clubs leaving the league. Most new Isthmian League members joined from the Athenian League, which was similarly dedicated to amateurism. The Isthmian League was most likely named after the ancient Isthmian Games, with the later Athenian League, Corinthian League and Delphian League all adding a Classical flavour to amateur football competition.

The league began to admit professionalism in the 1970s. A second division of sixteen clubs was formed in 1973 and a third division followed in 1977. The league refused to participate in the formation of the Alliance Premier League in 1979 and whilst two Isthmian clubs, Enfield and Dagenham, defected to the APL in 1981, it was not until 1985 that the Isthmian League champions were given a promotion place to the newly renamed Football Conference. The reward of promotion into the Conference means that, since 1985, no team has retained the title (as had happened on 22 occasions previously). The Athenian League disbanded in 1984 when the Isthmian League Second Division split into North and South Divisions. These were restructured again to Second and Third Divisions in 1991.

In 2002, the league was restructured again, with the First and Second Divisions merging to become Division One North and Division One South, and the Third Division being renamed as Division Two. In addition, the league's three feeder leagues—the Combined Counties League, Essex Senior League and Spartan South Midlands League—ran in parallel with Division Two, and were able to feed directly into the regional Division Ones.

In 2004, The Football Association pushed through a major restructuring of the non-league National League System, creating new regional divisions of the Football Conference. The Isthmian League was reduced back down to three divisions, and its boundaries were changed to remove the overlap with the Southern League.

In 2006, further reorganisation saw a reversion to two regional Division Ones and the disbandment of Division Two. This current plan calls for clubs based on the edges of the Isthmian League's territory to transfer to and from the Southern League as necessary to maintain numerical balance between the leagues. One team, Clapton, had been ever-present in the Isthmian League since its foundation, but they moved to the Essex Senior League for the 2006–07 season. Dulwich Hamlet, who joined the league in 1907, are currently its longest serving member.


The Isthmian League was the first league to have sponsorship, having been selected by Rothmans, who sponsored the league from 1973 to 1977. The company offered prize money for position in the league but money was deducted for bookings. Thus the money encouraged both more goals and fair play. The sponsors after Rothmans to the present day have been: Michael Lawrie (1977–78), Berger (1978–82), Servowarm (1982–85), Vauxhall-Opel (1985–90), Vauxhall (1990–91), Diadora (1991–95), ICIS (1995–97) and Ryman (1997–present).

League Cup

The Isthmian League Cup has run since 1975 and involves all Isthmian League teams.

Youth League

Since 2007, the Isthmian League has run a youth league called the Isthmian Youth League. This league is not restricted to members of the Isthmian League.

2017–18 member clubs

Premier Division

Division One North

Division One South

External links

Isthmian League Premier Division 2019-20

Bishop's Stortford · Bognor Regis Town · Bowers & Pitsea · Brightlingsea Regent · Carshalton Athletic · Cheshunt · Corinthian-Casuals · Cray Wanderers · East Thurrock United · Enfield Town · Folkestone Invicta · Haringey Borough · Hornchurch · Horsham · Kingstonian · Leatherhead · Lewes · Margate · Merstham · Potters Bar Town · Wingate & Finchley · Worthing

Isthmian League Division One North 2019-20

AFC Sudbury · Aveley · Basildon United · Brentwood Town · Bury Town · Cambridge City · Canvey Island · Coggeshall Town · Dereham Town · Felixstowe & Walton United · Grays Athletic · Great Wakering Rovers · Heybridge Swifts · Histon · Hullbridge Sports · Maldon & Tiptree · Romford · Soham Town Rangers · Tilbury · Witham Town

Isthmian League South Central Division 2019-20

Ashford Town (Middx) · Barking · Bedfont Sports · Bracknell Town · Chalfont St Peter · Chertsey Town · Chipstead · FC Romania · Hanwell Town · Harlow Town · Hertford Town · Marlow · Northwood · South Park · Staines Town · Tooting & Mitcham United · Uxbridge · Waltham Abbey · Ware · Westfield

Isthmian League seasons

2015–16 · 2016–17 · 2017–18 · 2018–19 · 2019–20 · 2020–21 · 2021–22 ·

Football in England
League competitions The FA Cup competitions
Premier League England (B) (C) FA Cup
Football League (Champ, 1, 2) (U-21) (U-20) Football League Cup
National League (Prem, N, S) (U-19) (U-18) FA Community Shield
Northern Premier (Prem, 1N, 1S) (U-17) (U-16) EFL Trophy
Southern League (Prem, Cen, 1S&W) List of clubs FA Trophy
Isthmian League (Prem, 1N, 1SC) List of stadiums Conference League Cup (Defunt)
(by capacity) FA Vase
List of leagues
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