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Football Manager 2022: National League South Guide

As a follow up to my guide covering the National League North in Football Manager 2022, we have the sister league, National League South. Featuring teams in the south and up to the lower midlands of England, we guide you through the league itself and a few select clubs you want to have a look at for your save in FM22.

The League

Sitting in Tier 6 of England, National League South has similar promotion and relegation rules to the National League North. The Champions of the league are promoted, whilst 2nd to 7th contest the play offs for the second promotion slot. Here is how the playoffs work:

  • Teams finishing in 4th to 7th places face off in a single match Quarter Final;
  • The winners of those matches play the 2nd and 3rd placed teams in a single match Semi-Final;
  • The Final then determines who takes the second promotion spot to the National League.
Still as daunting as the National League North, promotion from this league will feel sweet.

The playoffs can be a little daunting to negotiate, especially having to win three extra games to secure promotion at the end of a long season. Aim for the title if you can, it is the easiest way to be promoted.

If you use the default game divisions, National League South is the lowest division in England in Football Manager 2022. If you are relegated this is an automatic sacking (even if the Board say you are doing a good job), as your club is effectively booted from the game until they get promoted again. But you’re not about to be relegated right? Of course not, you are here for the glory!

League Rules

As with National League North, there are a couple rules in this division to be aware of. Firstly, the traditional transfer window does not affect non-league football in the same way. For top divisions in Europe, the window closes on 31st August. For National League North, you can continue to sign players until the end of March the following year. This gives greater flexibility in replacing your squad, especially if you suddenly have an injury crisis at any point.

As much as no one wants to mention it, Brexit rules do affect this league, but realistically you are not signing foreign players too often anyway. Mainly because your Board are unlikely to allow scouting outside UK and Ireland due to little or no prize money for this league.

So now the league rules are covered and the relevant information lodged in your brain, but which club do you start at? This is up to your preferences of course, but I picked out four clubs below for a closer look at in this league.

Club 1: Bath City

Club Nickname: The Romans

Board Expectations: Reach Playoffs Minimum

Media Prediction: 6th

Best Player: Elliott Frear (Left Winger – 30 years old)

Time to step out of the shadow of rugby with Bath City!

A club that lives in the shadow of its more illustrious rugby team of the same name, Bath City are a club with a lot of potential for growth. They have been chasing the play offs for four of the last five seasons, but found themselves in a relegation battle in the 2020/21 season. This is a chance to correct that and go a step further to secure promotion to the National League.

The Board require a play off finish as a minimum, but would also prefer you to sign players under the age of 23 for the first team (as part of the Club Vision). Truly, this provides an invitation for you to build a team for the future.

It is just as well they want you to buy younger players, as your squad is looking on the high side of the 20’s and six players in their 30’s! One of these is your best player, Elliott Frear, a 30 year old left winger. Some pace and good crossing ability means he will be useful, but he will need to be replaced in the long term along with 50% of your squad.

Elliott Frear: Useful but one of many aging players at the club.

This could prove tough to rebuild the squad in the first summer, as you will need to offload some players with only £500 wage budget spare. For the transfer savvy among you, this may provide an intermediate challenge for you.

Club 2: Billericay Town

Club Nickname: Ricay

Board Expectations: Top Half

Media Prediction: 10th

Best Player: Marvel Ekpiteta (Defender – 25 years old)

The money and fame has gone, but can you raise Billericay Town to higher levels regardless?

The name of this club may sound familiar: Billericay Town were taken over by an Essex businessman in 2016, which resulted in ex-Premier league players, such as Jamie O’Hara and Jermaine Pennant heading to New Lodge for a spell. That takeover ended in December 2019, and has resulted in Billericay Town stagnating in National League South.

This shows in the club finances, with the club showing as Insecure, despite £1k spare in wage budget and £25k in transfer budget. In all fairness, the Board require a Top Half finish, so it is not an impossible task at the start.

Your starting squad looks experienced, especially with Marvel Ekpiteta at 25 years old as your best player. Ekpiteta can play right back and centre back and be a useful weapon at attacking set pieces (10 for Heading but still ok), just make sure some fast defenders are around him.

Marvel Ekpiteta: That game face deserves game time.

Club 3: Dulwich Hamlet

Club Nickname: The Hamlet

Board Expectations: Reach Playoffs Minimum

Media Prediction: 7th

Best Player: Giovanni McGregor (Midfield – 22 years old)

A popular choice among FM players, can you create your own legacy with Dulwich Hamlet in FM22?

For many players of Football Manager, the challenge of rising through the lower leagues is one they relish. Enter Dulwich Hamlet, who have risen from Tier 8 to National League South with five years and are pushing for promotion again. Now it’s your chance to take this club one step further and maybe beyond.

To do this, the Board require a playoff finish minimum and provide £700 in spare wage budget, which is good for a few young players if you know where to look. This will help meet the club culture to sign players under 23 years old, so this should help keep the wages down. It also helps that you have Crystal Palace of the Premier League has a senior affiliate, so scout their youth players for any possible loans.

Squad wise, Giovanni McGregor stands out as your best player. A 22 year old central midfielder, this is a player who enjoys the big matches and with 13 for Free Kicks, will be key for attacking set pieces. Good physical attributes for this level also goes a long way to keeping him fit and healthy for games too.

He may not seem impressive, but McGregor has the physical attributes to be impressive in National League South.

Club 4: Havant & Waterlooville

Club Nickname: The Hawks

Board Expectations: Reach Playoffs Minimum

Media Prediction: 3rd

Best Player: Josh Passley (Defender – 26 years old)

They have had the Cup magic in the past, now it is time to create the League legacy!

A club famous for their FA Cup match against Liverpool in the 4th round in 2008, Havant & Waterlooville have spent much of the last 20 years in the National League South. A brief stint in the National League in 2018/19 aside, this club usually pushes for the playoffs in this league before falling short each time.

Naturally, the Board require the playoffs minimum, which the media agree with, as they predict you to finish 3rd in the first season. So that means you have the squad already to achieve this right? Ability wise they look good, with Josh Passley standing out, a 26 year old right back who can cross a ball and get forward with some pace. Just make sure some defenders are covering him when out of position.

There are several defenders in this league who are quality for their clubs. Josh Passley is the latest in that line.

Again, the squad is aging and lacking depth outside the starting team, so some transfer activity will be needed. Speaking of transfers, only £400 wage budget is spare from the beginning, so loans will be key here. Good thing you have Portsmouth as a senior affiliate to help you with loaning young players right (again helps with your club culture the Board set you)?

Overall

As mentioned, the National League South and North are twins effectively, but the goal remains the same when taking over a club at this level. Get promoted to the National League as quickly as possible! It’s interesting to see several clubs in the South prefer to sign players under the age of 23 (unless I missed this in the Northern teams), but this just invites you to build a team for the future. And isn’t that what Football Manager is all about?

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Follow me @Craig_FM1 for more FM22 content or find us on Twitter @DictateTheGame for more Football Manager news and content.

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