The Northern Counties East League has confirmed the introduction of play-offs, starting from the upcoming 2015/16 season.
More than two thirds of clubs at the league’s AGM voted in favour of the change.
While the change does not affect the top of the Premier Division, it will see three teams relegated from the top flight instead of the usual two.
Hallam boss Ryan Hindley said: “I’ve always been a big fan of the play-offs. I think it will keep everyone enthused and interested.
“Before the end of the season you could be eighth or ninth in the table and still with everything to play for.”
Hindley was forthright in his assessment of who might finish in the top two: “The two teams with the biggest playing budgets should finish in the top two and get automatic promotion,” he said.
“This gives teams that don’t have a budget, like ourselves, a chance to sneak into the top three. But it’s going to be very tough... there are some good teams in Division One.
“I’m not going to make any predications or promises about promotion but we’ll certainly be giving it our best shot. We’ve got a few new players coming in so hopefully that will make us a bit stronger than last season.”
Hallam returned to preseason training yesterday when Hindley was expected to tie up the first of his summer signings. A striker and central defender are understood to be the first new arrivals.
In the first round of the NCE League Cup, Dronfield Town face a tough trip to one of the Division One promotion favourites Shirebrook Town, while AFC Emley face a local derby at Hemsworth MW.
Round two sees Athersley Recreation at home against neighbours Penistone Church with Worsbrough Bridge Athletic having home advantage against Brigg Town who were relegated from the Evo-Stik last season.
Rossington Main face a testing tie away at Premier Division Barton Town OB.
Rainworth MW and Brigg Town have joined the NCE, as have Hull United and Westella.