The formation of the Alliance Premier League in 1979 was the first true attempt at a formation of a national league below the Football League. Twenty teams competed in the inaugural season, being drawn from the Northern Premier League and the Southern League. After 25 years, only Northwich Victoria remained as the last ever-presents, and they were demoted in 2005 to the Northern Division due to wranglings about the ownership of their new ground and expelled from the league altogether in 2010.
A major breakthrough in the Conference's history came in 1986 when the Football League finally agreed to automatic promotion and relegation. Scarborough were the first club to take advantage, replacing Lincoln City in Football League Division Four for 1987-88. From the 2002-03 season, a second promotion place was achieved, going to the winners of a play-off competition between those clubs in 2nd - 5th place.
Conference clubs have accounted for numerous Football League clubs in F.A. Cup ties over the years, with the biggest achievements have been of defeats of Division One (pre-Premier League days) clubs Birmingham City (by Altrincham), and Coventry City (by Sutton United). The furthest reached in the competition is the quarter finals, by Lincoln City in 2016-17.
A second layer, with Northern and Southern Divisions feeding into the existing league (re-christened as the National Division) started in 2004-05, heading the wholescale re-organisation of the non-league pyramid. The National Division became the Premier Division in 2007.
|2000-01||Rushden & Diamonds|
|2005-06||Accrington Stanley||Northwich Victoria||Weymouth|
|2006-07||Dagenham & Redbridge||Droylsden||Histon|
|2007-08||Aldershot Town||Kettering Town||Lewes|
|2008-09||Burton Albion||Tamworth||A F C Wimbledon|
|2009-10||Stevenage Borough||Southport||Newport County|
|2010-11||Crawley Town||Alfreton Town||Braintree Town|
|2012-13||Mansfield Town||Chester||Welling United|
|2013-14||Luton Town||AFC Telford United||Eastleigh|
|2015-16||Cheltenham Town||Solihull Moors||Sutton United|
|2016-17||Lincoln City||AFC Fylde||Maidenhead United|
|2016-17||Macclesfield Town||Salford City||Havant & Waterlooville|
|2017-18||Macclesfield Town||Salford City||Havant & Waterlooville|
Please acknowledge the F.C.H.D. when using this information elsewhere