Teams prepare for play-off matches to decide promotion and relegation fate

England Handball’s play-off ties are underway, with the promotion and relegation fate of several Regional and Premier League teams set to be decided. 

Following the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, the teams finishing top of the various Regional leagues qualified for play-offs against one another. 

The winners of these Regional play-offs will now proceed to promotion play-off matches to the various Premier Leagues, against the teams who finished last place in those divisions.

Here’s how things have panned out so far, and what’s still to come, in both the Men’s and Women’s league structures. 


Due to there being just one Regional league in the Men’s Northern structure, the top two teams are eligible for promotion to the Premier League North. This season, those teams were Manchester 2 and Loughborough. But with Manchester already having their first team in the PHL North and the rule against one club having two teams in the top league, only Loughborough have been promoted. 

In the Southern region, there are three Men’s regional leagues sitting below the Premier League South. That means the top teams from the South West and South East (South) qualified for the play-offs – Oxford and Islington. 

The South East (North) division saw second place Northampton join the play-offs. That was because while Islington 2 won the league, the club was not eligible to have two teams in the promotion play-offs. 

In the subsequent Regional League play-offs, South East (South) winners Islington beat both South West champions Oxford and South East (North) runners-up Northampton. That means they will now play Cambridge, who finished sixth in the Premier South.

This Promotion ‘play-up’ will determine the PHL South teams for the 2023-24 season, as victory for Islington will see Cambridge relegated to South East (North). The first leg will throw off at 3.30pm on May 13 at London Met, while the return will start at 12.30pm on May 21, at Perse School. 

Here are the Men’s Regional league teams who qualified for both automatic promotion and the play-offs, following the end of an exciting season:

Men’s North:

Champions: Manchester 2

Automatic Promotion: Loughborough

Men’s South West

Champions and Qualified for play-off: Oxford

Men’s South East (North)

Champions: Islington 2

Qualified for play-off: Northampton

Men’s South East (South)

Champions and Qualified for play-off: Islington


In the Women’s, the champions of the South West and South East Regional Leagues – Poole Phoenix and Chelsea – went into play-offs against one another. Chelsea took the victory after a strong opening leg away from home. Phoenix could not pull it back in the return fixture at St Mary’s University, London. 

Chelsea have now set up a promotion play-off against Arctic Falcons. Falcons finished sixth in the PHL South, meaning the winners of a two-legged tie will secure their place in that division.

The first leg will take place on May 13 at 1.30pm at St Mary’s University, while the second will be on May 20 at Rochester Grammar School, throwing off at 3.30pm.

Here are the Women’s teams who have qualified:

Women’s Competition

Women’s South West

Champions and Qualified for play-off: Poole Phoenix

Women’s South East

Champions and Qualified for play-off: Chelsea