2008–2013 (as IFA Championship)
2004–2008 (as IFA Intermediate League)
2003–2004 (as Irish League)
1999–2003 (as Irish League Second Division)
1977–1999 (as Irish League B Division Section 1)
1951–1977 (as Irish League B Division)
|Number of teams||29|
|Level on pyramid||2–3|
|Promotion to||NIFL Premiership|
|Relegation to||Ballymena & Provincial League
Mid-Ulster Football League
Northern Amateur League
Northern Ireland Intermediate League
|Domestic cup(s)||Irish Cup
IFA Intermediate Cup
|League cup(s)||Northern Ireland League Cup|
|Current champions||Carrick Rangers (2014–15)|
|Most championships||Dundela (10½)|
|2014–15 NIFL Championship|
The NIFL Championship consists of two divisions of the Northern Ireland Football League, the national football league in Northern Ireland, occupying levels two and three in the Northern Ireland football league system – below the NIFL Premiership. Clubs in the Championship have intermediate status.
It was founded in 2008 as the Premier Intermediate League for members of the previous IFA Intermediate League that met the new stricter membership criteria, though was marketed as the IFA Championship. In 2009, it was extended to two divisions: Championship 1 and Championship 2 with promotion and relegation between the two. In 2013, the Championship and IFA Premiership were replaced by a single Northern Ireland Football League, independent of the Irish Football Association (IFA). The NI Football League is a private company that has 41 member clubs from the Premiership, Championship 1 & 2, who are each shareholders. The Championship is sponsored by the Belfast Telegraph and is marketed as the Belfast Telegraph Championship.
Results from Championship 1 are featured on the Press Association vidiprinter service. However, they are rarely seen by television viewers as the Saturday results often do not appear until after 5.15pm and therefore are not featured during the reading of the classified results. The results from Championship 2 are not carried on the Press Association vidiprinter service.
The NIFL Championship, as the highest-level of intermediate football in Northern Ireland, is the successor to the IFA Championship, IFA Intermediate League, the Irish Football League First Division during its last season (when it had intermediate status), and ultimately the Irish League B Division (latterly known as the Irish League Second Division).
The B Division of the Irish League was founded in 1951, and originally consisted of the reserve teams of the senior Irish League clubs alongside some of the top intermediate clubs. The B Division was split geographically into North and South sections in 1974 (with a play-off to determine the winners in 1974–75 and 1975–76), and then into Section 1 (containing the intermediate clubs) and Section 2 (the reserve teams of senior clubs) in 1977.
In 1999, the B Division Section 1 was renamed as the Irish League Second Division, and Section 2 became the Reserve League.
There was never any automatic promotion and relegation between either the B Division or Second Division and the senior Irish League.
In 2003, the Irish Premier League was formed by the top sixteen senior teams in the senior Irish League (which, since 1995 had been divided into a Premier Division and a First Division). The four remaining senior teams reverted to intermediate football, along with the top eight teams from the previous year's Second Division - in the Irish League First Division (which now became the top intermediate league), with the Second Division continuing with twelve teams. Automatic promotion and relegation between senior and intermediate football was introduced. There was also automatic promotion and relegation between the two divisions of the (now intermediate-status) Irish League.
In 2004, the Irish Football League was wound up and replaced by the IFA Intermediate League, consisting of two divisions of twelve, with promotion and relegation between the two. This continued for four seasons, until the Championship was created.
For one season only, 2008–09, there was also an IFA Interim Intermediate League for those former members of the IFA Intermediate League which had failed to meet the criteria for the Championship. These clubs were given a year to make improvements in order to join the Championship for 2009–10. Ten of the 12 clubs succeeded in meeting the necessary standard in 2009 and the Championship was then divided into two divisions.
In 2010–11, a "pyramid" system was introduced, with the possibility of promotion and relegation between the Championship and the four regional intermediate leagues, namely the:
- Ballymena & Provincial League
- Mid-Ulster Football League
- Northern Amateur League
- Northern Ireland Intermediate League
Clubs in these leagues may only gain promotion to the Championship if they win their respective league championship and meet the necessary criteria. In the event that more than one league champion meets the criteria, only one will be promoted, to be decided by a play-off or series of play-offs.
In 2013, the Northern Ireland Football League assumed responsibility from the IFA for the Championship, which became two intermediate divisions of the NIFL and was renamed as the NIFL Championship.
Under reforms agreed by the NIFL clubs in 2014, from 2016, the current Championship 1 will acquire senior status, continuing as the NIFL Championship, while Championship 2 will continue as the Premier Intermediate League, retaining its intermediate status and will thus become the top intermediate league in Northern Ireland.
Current NIFL Championship clubs (2015–16)
List of champions
Single-division format (1951–2003)
(number of titles)
|Irish League B Division|
|1951–52||Linfield Swifts (1)[note 1]|
|1952–53||Linfield Swifts (2)[note 1]|
|1953–54||Cliftonville Olympic (1)[note 1]|
|1955–56||Banbridge Town (1)|
|1957–58||Ards II (1)[note 1]|
|1958–59||Glentoran II (1)[note 1]|
|1959–60||Newry Town (1)[note 2]|
|1960–61||Ballyclare Comrades (1)|
|1961–62||Carrick Rangers (1)|
|1962–63||Ballyclare Comrades (2)|
|1972–73||Carrick Rangers (2)|
|1973–74||Ballyclare Comrades (3)|
|1974–75||Carrick Rangers (3)[note 3]|
|1975–76||Linfield Swifts (3)[note 1] [note 3]|
|1976–77||Carrick Rangers (3½)/Dundela (1½)[note 4]|
|Irish League B Division Section 1|
|1977–78||Ballyclare Comrades (4)|
|1978–79||Carrick Rangers (4½)|
|1979–80||Ballyclare Comrades (5)|
|1980–81||Newry Town (2)[note 2]|
|1982–83||Carrick Rangers† (5½)|
|1983–84||Limavady United (1)|
|1984–85||Chimney Corner (1)|
|1986–87||RUC (1)[note 5]|
|1988–89||Ballyclare Comrades (6)|
|1992–93||Limavady United (2)|
|1998–99||Chimney Corner (2)|
|Irish League Second Division|
|2001–02||Moyola Park (1)|
|2002–03||Ballinamallard United (1)|
Two-division format (2003–present)
(number of titles)
(number of second-level titles)
|2003–04||Loughgall‡ (5)||Coagh United (1)|
|IFA Intermediate League|
|2004–05||Armagh City‡ (1)||Tobermore United (1)|
|2005–06||Crusaders‡ (1)||Portstewart (1)|
|2006–07||Institute‡ (1)||Ballyclare Comrades (1)|
|2007–08||Loughgall (6)||Dergview (1)|
|2009–10||Loughgall (7)||Harland & Wolff Welders (1)|
|2010–11||Carrick Rangers‡ (6½)||Warrenpoint Town (1)|
|2011–12||Ballinamallard United‡ (2)||Coagh United (2)|
|2012–13||Ards‡ (2)||Knockbreda (1)|
|2013–14||Institute‡ (2)||Armagh City (1)|
|2014–15||Carrick Rangers‡ (7½)||Lurgan Celtic (1)|
† Elected to senior Irish Football League
‡ Promoted to Irish Premier League/IFA Premiership/NIFL Premiership
Summary of champions
|Dundela||10½[note 6]||1967–68, 1976–77 (shared), 1981–82, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1993–94, 1999–00, 2000–01|
|Larne||10||1954–55, 1956–57, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1965–66, 1966–67, 1986–69, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72|
|Carrick Rangers||7½[note 6]||1961–62, 1972–73, 1974–75, 1976–77 (shared), 1978–79, 1982–83, 2010–11, 2014–15|
|Loughgall||7||1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98, 2003–04, 2007–08, 2009–10|
|Ballyclare Comrades||6||1960–61, 1962–63, 1973–74, 1977–78, 1979–80, 1988–89|
|Linfield Swifts||3||1951–52, 1952–53, 1975–76|
|Ards||2[note 7]||1957–58, 2012–13|
|Ballinamallard United||2||2002–03, 2011–12|
|Chimney Corner||2||1984–85, 1998–99|
|Limavady United||2||1983–84, 1992–93|
|Newry City[note 8]||2||1959–60, 1980–81|
In 1982, a knock-out competition for members was introduced, known as the B Division Knock-out Cup and sponsored by Smirnoff. It was discontinued after 2002, but a new IFA Intermediate League Cup was played between 2004 and 2008, sponsored in its first season by the Daily Mirror and thereafter by Carnegie. In 2008–09, there was no knock-out competition for Championship clubs, who participated with Premiership clubs in the Irish League Cup. In the 2009–10 season only, however, while Championship 1 clubs continued to participate in the Irish League Cup, a Championship 2 League Cup was inaugurated for those in Championship 2. From 2010–11 onwards, all Championship clubs from divisions 1 and 2 also competed in the Irish League Cup, and the Championship 2 League Cup was abolished.
|B Division Knock-out Cup|
|1997–98||Harland & Wolff Welders|
|2000–01||Harland & Wolff Welders|
|2001–02||Harland & Wolff Welders|
|IFA Intermediate League Cup|
|Championship 2 League Cup|
|2009–10||Harland & Wolff Welders|
Summary of winners
|Dundela||4||1987–88, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1994–95|
|Harland & Wolff Welders||4||1997–98, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2009–10|
|RUC[note 5]||3||1982–83, 1984–85, 1985–86|
|Ballyclare Comrades||2||1983–84, 1988–89|
|Limavady United||2||1992–93, 1995–96|
- NIFL Premiership
- IFA Interim Intermediate League
- IFA Reserve League
- IFA Intermediate Cup
- George Wilson Cup
- Irish Cup
- Irish League Cup
- County Antrim Shield
- Steel & Sons Cup
- Mid-Ulster Cup
- Bob Radcliffe Cup
- North West Senior Cup
- Craig Memorial Cup
- Northern Ireland football league system
- "Premier Intermediate League (PIL)". Irish Football Association. irishfa.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "IFA Championship". Irish Football Association. irishfa.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- Ladbrokes.com Championship 2009/10
- "NORTHERN IRELAND FOOTBALL LEAGUE". NIFL Premiership.
- BELFAST TELEGRAPH SPONSOR THE IFA CHAMPIONSHIP
- "NI Football League - Restructure Proposal". Northern Ireland Football League. nifootballleague.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- Northern Ireland Football League (2014). NI Football League Restructure Proposal.
- Malcolm Brodie (ed.), Northern Ireland Soccer Yearbook (various editions)
- Reserve team of senior club
- Now Newry City
- After play-off between winners of North and South sections
- Shared between winners of North and South sections
- Now PSNI
- Including one shared title
- Includes one title by Ards II (reserve team)
- As Newry Town