England is a country that comprises the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain in the North Atlantic. It is part of the United Kingdom and shares its land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west. England has a population of 53 million people and the capital is London.
The Football Association is the governing body of football in England and is based in London. The FA sanctions all competitive football matches in England at national level, and indirectly at local level through the County Football Associations. The organisation was founded in 1863 and became affiliated FIFA in 1905 and to UEFA in 1954. All of England's professional football teams are members of the Football Association.
The highest ranked competition in England is the Premier League which was founded in 1992 after England's top clubs broke away from the Football League. The Premier League is contested between 20 clubs each season. Despite the organisational split, promotion and relegation of clubs still takes place between the Premier League and the Football League.
The Football League now ranks second in the hierarchy of English football since the split of England's top clubs in 1992 to form the FA Premier League. The Football League has 72 member clubs evenly divided among three divisions, currently named the Championship, League One and League Two.
Below the Football League is what is commonly known as "non-League football". This term can be confusing, as it refers to those clubs outside the Football League, although they still play in organised league competitions. In recent years, the top few levels have been consolidated into the National League System, operated by the FA. Most clubs in the Conference National division are fully professional, the remainder are semi-professional.
There is automatic promotion and relegation between League Two and the Conference National, and for several levels below the Conference, although this becomes more irregular further down the league system. The non-League system is often known as the "pyramid", because the number
of leagues at each level begins to increase the further down through the levels, with each league covering a smaller geographic area.
There are several cup competitions for clubs at different levels of the football pyramid. The two major cup competitions are the FA Cup and the Football League Cup, with the winners of those competitions qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.
The Football Association Challenge Cup (commonly known as the FA Cup) is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. It was first held in 1871–72 having been proposed by C. W. Alcock to the Football Association committee.
Entry is open to all teams who compete in the Premier League, the Football League and in steps one to five of the FA National League System, as well as selected teams in step six.
Since 1888, a total of 23 clubs have been crowned champions of the English football system. The most successful club is Manchester United, closely followed by Liverpool and Arsenal. The most successful club in the FA Cup since it was first held in 1871/72 has been Manchester United.
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