EFL new-boys Sutton unlikely to emulate the success of Crawley and Stevenage

Bookies predicting a tough debut for newly promoted United but history suggests they will hang on to their Football League status.

Sutton United will be making their Football League debut this season after winning the Conference, with many people tipping their stay to be a brief one.

As it stands, Planet Sport Bet rates the Us as the least likely of the 24 teams in League Two to be celebrating promotion in 2022.

But how unlikely is it?

Planet Sport looks back on how Football League newcomers have performed since automatic promotion from the fifth tier was introduced in 1987.

The 1980s


1987 saw direct promotion from non-league accepted into the Football League for the first time and it was Scarborough - under Neil Warnock - who achieved it and their first season saw them finish mid-table.

Where are they now? Twice made the play-offs before bowing out of the League in 1999 following Jimmy Glass' last-minute goal for Carlisle United. Wound up in 2007 with debts of £2.5million

Maidstone United

The next new team was Maidstone United in 1989. They almost achieved back-to-back promotions but were defeated in the play-offs by Cambridge United after Dion Dublin scored twice in the second period of extra-time.

Where are they now? Resigned from the League in 1992 after being unable to fulfil their fixtures and went into liquidation.

The 1990s


1991 saw non-league giants Barnet gain league status for the first time - and like Maidstone they made a good first impression, making the play-offs before losing out to Blackpool.

Where are they now? Dropped out of the league in 2001 before returning in 2005. They are now back in the National Conference where they are managed by former Leeds United player Harry Kewell.

Wycombe Wanderers

It was not until 1994 that we saw the next league newcomer, and the promotion duck was broken as Wycombe Wanderers under Martin O'Neill went up via the play-offs at the first time of asking.

Where are they now? Reached the Championship for the first time in 2020 under Gareth Ainsworth but suffered relegation the following season.

Macclesfield Town

Various issues such as not meeting league requirements saw a number of teams denied promotion and one of those was Macclesfield Town. They finally made it into the league in 1997 and took to it like ducks to water, winning the league.

Where are they now? Promoted to the third tier in 1998 but were immediately relegated and fell out of the Football League in 2012. Regained their EFL status in 2018 but financial problems led to them being relegated and eventually wound up in 2020.

Cheltenham Town

The Robins were promoted in 1998 and almost made it three in a row for the newbies, but they just missed out on the play-offs.

Where are they now? Their 16-year stay in the Football League ended in 2015 with relegation to the National League. However, they regained their EFL status at the first time of asking and are preparing to line up in League One this season after clinching the League Two title.

The 2000s

Kidderminster Harriers

The new century saw Kidderminster promoted under the stewardship of Liverpool legend Jan Molby. They could not secure promotion but were more than happy with their mid-table finish.

Where are they now? Spent five seasons in the Football League but now find themselves in the National League North, the sixth tier of English soccer.

Rushden and Diamonds

The following year saw another new boy on the scene in the shape of Northamptonshire minnows Rushden. They made the play-offs but did not go up - losing in the final to Cheltenham.

Where are they now? Won the Third Division title in 2002/03 but were relegated the following season and lost their Football League status after finishing bottom of League Two in 2006. Expelled from the Conference and dissolved in 2011.

Boston United

Another minnow managed to make it into the Football League the following year in Boston United. Promotion did not follow but they maintained their status.

Where are they now? Spent five years in the fourth tier before they entered administration, resulting in being demoted two divisions to the National League North where they still play.

Yeovil Town

The run of new boys in the league continued for a fourth straight year as the celebrated Yeovil - probably the most famed non-league side - made it into the Football League. They just missed out on the play-offs in their first year before a successful run up the divisions.

Where are they now? Reached the Championship with victory in the 2013 League One play-off final but successive relegations saw them back in League Two and they fell out of the Football League in 2019.

Dagenham & Redbridge

After a hiatus of a few years, with many clubs regaining their status, including Accrington Stanley after many seasons away, there were two new faces in 2007. Dagenham made it up but only just survived in their first season.

Where are they now? Reached League Two after winning the 2010 play-off final but were relegated the next season. Fell out of the Football League in 2016 and remain in the National League.


The Shrimpers had a better time of it after coming up with Dagenham, finishing just outside the play-offs.

Where are they now? Promoted to League One in 2021 they are one of only two teams, alongside AFC Wimbledon, in the top four levels of English soccer never to have been relegated.

Burton Albion

The Brewers made it up in 2009, but they could not make it back-to-back promotions, finishing just outside the play-offs.

Where are they now? Won League Two in 2014/15 and were promoted out of League One in 2015/16, spending two seasons in the Championship. Currently in League One under the stewardship of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

The 2010s


After being denied entry in the Football League due to a lack of a suitable ground in 1996, Stevenage finally made it up in 2010 and they made no mistake, becoming only the third club to be promoted at the first time of asking.

Where are they now? Relegated back to League Two at the end of the 2013/14 season where they currently reside.

Crawley Town

South coast minnows Crawley were led into the league by the experienced Steve Evans and for the second year running, a debutant was promoted as they followed Stevenage straight up.

Where are they now? Spent three seasons in League One before relegation and remain in League Two.

Fleetwood Town

Another new team made it into the Football League in 2012 with the promotion of Fleetwood and although they would go on to make an impact, they did not get promoted at the first time of asking.

Where are they now? Earned promotion to League One via the play-offs in 2014 and finished 15th in the division last season.

Forest Green Rovers

2017 saw a debut for Forest Green. The Gloucester minnows made it up after three play-off attempts in the Conference and only just survived their first season in the league.

Where are they now? Continue to be dogged by play-off failure, twice missing out on promotion to League One, most recently in May when they went down 5-4 on aggregate to Newport County.

Salford City

Big-spending Salford arrived in the league in 2019 in a blaze of glory given their famed owners, but despite their big backers they did not go up straight away.

Where are they now? Still in League Two.

The 2020s

Harrogate Town

2020 saw Harrogate make history with their promotion. They could not go up straight away, but they showed well and never looked like going down.

Sutton United?

With only four league debutants having made it up at the first time of asking, it looks unlikely that Sutton will be challenging at the top end of the table in 2021/22.

However, despite the odds suggesting United will be heading straight back to the National League, they will take some comfort from the fact that no new team has ever been relegated in their first season in the EFL.

READ MORE: Can Grimsby and Southend bounce back to the EFL at the first attempt?