NIFL Championship

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NIFL Championship
Belfast Telegraph Championship logo.jpg
Country Northern Ireland
Founded 2013
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)
Divisions 2
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,[1] though was marketed as the IFA Championship.[2] In 2009, it was extended to two divisions: Championship 1 and Championship 2 with promotion and relegation between the two.[3] 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.[4] The Championship is sponsored by the Belfast Telegraph and is marketed as the Belfast Telegraph Championship.[5]

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.

History[edit]

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:

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.

Restructuring[edit]

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.[6][7]

Current NIFL Championship clubs (2015–16)[edit]

Championship 1

Championship 2

List of champions[edit]

Single-division format (1951–2003)[edit]

Season Champions
(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]
1954–55 Larne (1)
1955–56 Banbridge Town (1)
1956–57 Larne (2)
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)
1963–64 Larne (3)
1964–65 Larne (4)
1965–66 Larne (5)
1966–67 Larne (6)
1967–68 Dundela (1)
1968–69 Larne (7)
1969–70 Larne (8)
1970–71 Larne (9)
1971–72 Larne† (10)
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]
1981–82 Dundela (2½)
1982–83 Carrick Rangers† (5½)
1983–84 Limavady United (1)
1984–85 Chimney Corner (1)
1985–86 Dundela (3½)
1986–87 RUC (1)[note 5]
1987–88 Dundela (4½)
1988–89 Ballyclare Comrades (6)
1989–90 Dundela (5½)
1990–91 Dundela (6½)
1991–92 Dundela (7½)
1992–93 Limavady United (2)
1993–94 Dundela (8½)
1994–95 Loughgall (1)
1995–96 Loughgall (2)
1996–97 Loughgall (3)
1997–98 Loughgall (4)
1998–99 Chimney Corner (2)
Irish League Second Division
1999–00 Dundela (9½)
2000–01 Dundela (10½)
2001–02 Moyola Park (1)
2002–03 Ballinamallard United (1)

Two-division format (2003–present)[edit]

Season Champions
(number of titles)
Second-level champions
(number of second-level titles)
Irish League
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)
IFA Championship
2008–09 Portadown‡ (1) n/a
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)
NIFL Championship
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[edit]

Team Wins Winning years
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
Institute 2 2006–07, 2013–14
Limavady United 2 1983–84, 1992–93
Newry City[note 8] 2 1959–60, 1980–81
Armagh City 1 2004–05
Banbridge Town 1 1955–56
Cliftonville Olympic 1 1953–54
Crusaders 1 2005–06
Glentoran II 1 1958–59
Moyola Park 1 2001–02
Portadown 1 2008–09
RUC[note 5] 1 1986–87

Knock-out competitions[edit]

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.

Winners[edit]

Season Winners
B Division Knock-out Cup
1982–83 RUC
1983–84 Ballyclare Comrades
1984–85 RUC
1985–86 RUC
1986–87 Chimney Corner
1987–88 Dundela
1988–89 Ballyclare Comrades
1989–90 Omagh Town
1990–91 Dundela
1991–92 Dundela
1992–93 Limavady United
1993–94 Dungannon Swifts
1994–95 Dundela
1995–96 Limavady United
1996–97 Institute
1997–98 Harland & Wolff Welders
1998–99 Ballymoney United
1999–00 Moyola Park
2000–01 Harland & Wolff Welders
2001–02 Harland & Wolff Welders
2002–03 No competition
2003–04 No competition
IFA Intermediate League Cup
2004–05 Bangor
2005–06 Crusaders
2006–07 Institute
2007–08 Loughgall
2008–09 No competition
Championship 2 League Cup
2009–10 Harland & Wolff Welders

Summary of winners[edit]

Team Wins Winning years
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
Institute 2 1996–97, 2006–07
Limavady United 2 1992–93, 1995–96
Ballymoney United 1 1998–99
Bangor 1 2004–05
Chimney Corner 1 1986–87
Crusaders 1 2005–06
Dungannon Swifts 1 1993–94
Loughgall 1 2007–08
Moyola Park 1 1999–00
Omagh Town 1 1989–90

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Premier Intermediate League (PIL)". Irish Football Association. irishfa.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "IFA Championship". Irish Football Association. irishfa.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Ladbrokes.com Championship 2009/10
  4. ^ "NORTHERN IRELAND FOOTBALL LEAGUE". NIFL Premiership. 
  5. ^ BELFAST TELEGRAPH SPONSOR THE IFA CHAMPIONSHIP
  6. ^ "NI Football League - Restructure Proposal". Northern Ireland Football League. nifootballleague.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Northern Ireland Football League (2014). NI Football League Restructure Proposal.

General[edit]

  • Malcolm Brodie (ed.), Northern Ireland Soccer Yearbook (various editions)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Reserve team of senior club
  2. ^ a b Now Newry City
  3. ^ a b After play-off between winners of North and South sections
  4. ^ Shared between winners of North and South sections
  5. ^ a b c Now PSNI
  6. ^ a b Including one shared title
  7. ^ Includes one title by Ards II (reserve team)
  8. ^ As Newry Town