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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

The relegation that hurts

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Clubs are about a hundred times more likely to go bust if they fall out of the Football League.   Just three Football League clubs have folded since the Second World War: Accrington Stanley (where the gas being turned off was the final blow), Aldershot and the now resurgent Maidstone United.

However, since automatic relegation from the Football League was introduced in 1986-7, relegated clubs have had a 1 in 20 chance of folding for each season they spent in the non-league system.   Seven clubs have gone under, although they have all revived in some form: Chester City, Darlington, Halifax Town, Hereford United, Newport County, Rushden & Diamonds and Scarborough.

Clubs tend either to go under or get promoted back to the Football League.  Of the 27 clubs relegated between 1987 and 2010 more than half (14) returned within five seasons.   The former Football League clubs still in the non-league system are Barrow, Boston United, Grimsby, Kidderminster Harriers, Southport, Stockport County and Wrexham.   Once in what is now the Championship, Stockport County are still in the second tier of the non-league system.