The 2021–22 NIFL Championship (known as the Lough 41 Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the fifth season of the NIFL Championship since gaining senior status. It is the second-tier of the Northern Ireland Football League - the national football league in Northern Ireland. The season began on 7 August 2021 and will conclude in April 2022.
|Dates||7 Aug 2021 – April 2022|
|Goals scored||368 (3.07 per match)|
|Biggest home win||Dergivew 5–0 Institute|
(7 August 2021)
|Biggest away win||Knockbreda 1–6 Loughgall|
(11 September 2021)
|Highest scoring||H&W Welders 5–3 Ballinamallard United|
(30 October 2021)
2022–23 →All statistics correct as of 13 January 2022.
The Championship returned after a one-year hiatus, following the cancellation of the 2020–21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.
The 2021–22 NIFL Championship is being contested by 12 teams, ten of which retained their Championship status from the 2019–20 season. Portadown were champions in the previous season, and were promoted to the 2020–21 NIFL Premiership. They were replaced by the bottom team in the NIFL Premiership, Institute. Runners-up Ballinamallard United missed out on promotion, as the NIFL Premiership play-off was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.
The bottom Championship team from the previous season, PSNI, were relegated to the third-tier NIFL Premier Intermediate League. They were replaced by Annagh United, winners of the Premier Intermediate League. The eleventh-placed Championship team from the previous season, Knockbreda, had a reprieve, as the NIFL Championship play-off was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland.
Stadia and locationsEdit
|Annagh United||Tandragee Road||Portadown||1,250 (100 seated)|
|Ards||Bangor Fuels Arena||Bangor||1,895 (500 seated)|
|Ballinamallard United||Ferney Park||Ballinamallard||2,000 (250 seated)|
|Ballyclare Comrades||Dixon Park||Ballyclare||5,333|
|Harland & Wolff Welders||Tillysburn Park||Belfast||3,000|
|Institute||Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium||Derry||8,200|
|Newry City||The Showgrounds||Newry||2,275 (1,080 seated)|
|Queen's University||Upper Malone||Belfast||1,000 (330 seated)|
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion, qualification or relegation[a]|
|1||Newry City||23||14||5||4||40||19||+21||47||Promotion to the NIFL Premiership|
|2||Ballinamallard United||23||12||5||6||46||31||+15||41||Qualification for the NIFL Premiership play-off[b]|
|6||Harland & Wolff Welders||22||11||2||9||35||34||+1||35|
|11||Institute||23||5||5||13||18||44||−26||20||Qualification for the NIFL Championship play-off|
|12||Queen's University||23||2||3||18||13||47||−34||9||Relegation to the NIFL Premier Intermediate League|
Rules for classification: 1) Points; 2) Goal difference; 3) Number of goals scored; 4) Head-to-head points; 5) Head-to-head goal difference; 6) Drawing of lots
- Teams will play each other three times (33 matches), before the league splits into two groups (the top six and the bottom six) for the last five matches.
- If the runners-up do not attain a promotion licence, the next highest-placed team eligible for promotion that finishes 6th or higher will enter the play-off against the 11th-placed NIFL Premiership club. If no team finishing 2nd to 6th attains a promotion licence the play-off will not take place.
During matches 1–22 each team will play every other team twice (home and away).
During matches 23–33 each team will play every other team for the third time (either at home, or away).
For the final five matches the table then splits into two halves, with teams ranked 1st–6th in Section A and teams ranked 7th–12th in Section B. During matches 34–38 each team plays every other team in their respective section once. The fixtures are reversed from those played during rounds 23–33, ensuring that teams have played every other team in their respective section twice at home and twice away overall throughout the season.