The National League has transformed over the last few years. While still the lowest nationwide division in the English football pyramid, the fifth tier has been rebranded as the ‘National League’, having previously gone by the ‘Conference National’ name.
From a betting perspective, the National League saw its audiences grow considerably in 2022-23 behind the Hollywood backing of Wrexham. A fierce title race between Wrexham and Notts County drew audiences from all over the world.
There were just three semi-professional clubs in the National League in 2022-23, which shows how the league has evolved.
Previously thought of as the bridge between the semi-pro and professional leagues, the National League is almost exclusively professional at the time of writing.
Of course, live betting interest has increased, and some big-name clubs have plied their trade in the fifth tier over the years, including Salford City, Southend United and many others.
Let’s learn a bit more about the money in the National League…
What Is The Average National League Salary?
The average National League weekly earnings are between £1,000 and £1,500. This varies year-on-year, however, and there will be considerable variation between National League salaries in any given season.
Just as you’d see in the Premier League, there will be a chasm between the highest and lowest earners.
Of course, figures from the 2022-23 season show that plenty of players earned north of £2,500 per week, which would be a decent pay packet for some Football League clubs.
Highest-Paid National League Players
In 2022-23, league winners Wrexham were home to many of the highest earners.
Former Newcastle central defender Ben Tozer and Paul Mullin were tied for the highest earner honours, with each player receiving £4,000 per week.
This compares favourably even to League Two salaries, with both Mullin and Tozer earning more than the vast majority of players in the fourth tier.
According to 90 min, Wrexham’s James Jones and Aaron Hayden trailed Tozer and Mullin on £3,000 per week.
National League Manager Salary
Figures for National League manager salaries are hard to come by. League Two managers earn roughly £80,000 per year, though, with a lowest salary of £45,000.
Just like with the players, it’s fair to assume that some National League managers will be on above the League Two average.
The average manager salary in the fifth tier is going to be much lower than £80,000, however. If we were to speculate, we would probably look somewhere in the £55,000 region. Some will be on well below that figure.
National League Salaries Compared To Football League
Unsurprisingly, National League players earn far less than their counterparts in the top four tiers.
Even using the upper bound of the National League average of £1,500, it still comes in well below League Two at £2,500.
Average wages in League One hover around £5,000 per week, and jump closer to £10,000 in the Championship.
The Premier League is home to dozens of players on six figures per week, with several pocketing over a quarter of a million pounds for a week’s work.
Is the National League Professional?
Throughout most of the history of the National League, it was regarded as a semi-professional competition. Clubs generally became professional when they earned promotion to the bottom division of the Football League.
The number of longstanding Football League clubs falling into the National League has seen a blurring of those lines.
In 2022-23, 21 of the 24 teams were professional. As a result, there is something of a grey area when classifying whether the National League is professional or semi-pro.
The standard of the football and quality of facilities has improved considerably with greater professionalisation, and there may well be more money poured in through the remainder of this decade.
Games being broadcast live on BT Sport (now TNT) has helped the league develop. First covering live matches in 2013, TNT continues to show plenty of National League action throughout the season.
National League Sponsorships
Numerous companies have sponsored the National League since it was founded in the 1970s.
Gola covered a couple of campaigns in the 1980s before handing over to Vauxhall Motors, who were the league’s main sponsor for a decade.
By the end of the 1990s, Nationwide took over. Next up was Blue Square, who maintained the position from 2006 through to 2013, which is when Skrill had their curious one-year stint. Since then, Vanarama have been the league’s naming sponsor.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*