Within the English Soccer league system, there are a number of different leagues which contain different amounts of teams. For example, the most notorious league within England is the Barclays Premier League. This is the top league in England, where there are 20 elite teams within it who are usually amongst the richest clubs in the world. Within this league, there are 3 teams which are relegated (Those who finish 20th, 19th & 18th) where they will then go to the league below. 1 team wins the league (Who finishes 1st) and 6 teams who are then entered into European tournaments for next season. (These teams are the ones who finish within the top 6.)
The league below the Premier League is called the Sky Bet Championship. Now in this soccer league, there are 24 teams. The difference in this league is that the teams involved are usually smaller than the ones in the league above, but still relatively wealthy.
In the Championship, 3 teams are promoted to the league above. The two teams that finish in 1st and 2nd place automatically go up, but then the teams that finish 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th go into a mini tournament called the play offs, where the 3rd and 6th as well as 4th and 5th play each other. The winners of these two games then go to play a final at the national stadium which is Wembley. Where the winner will then be promoted. The play off final is regarded as the richest game in all of football, as promotion payments are usually upwards of $100,000,000. But at the other end of the scale, 3 teams are relegated in the championship. These are the teams that finish 24th, 23rd & 22nd. There is no chance of qualifying for a European tournament within the championship unless a domestic cup completion like the FA or League cup is won. (Which is very rare for a team outside of the premier league)
The league below this is called Sky Bet League 1. Now in this league, it is very similar to the league above (the championship) as the promotion and relegation situation is exactly the same. The only difference is that the teams from this soccer league and below, compete in a cup competition of their own. This competition is called the Johnstones Paint Trophy (or JPT) for short. This is where the lower league teams are able to compete in the chance to win a piece of silverware, as well as playing at the national stadium which is an honour for any club.
The final league within the English soccer league system is the Sky Bet League 2. Again, this league is identical to the Sky Bet League 1. One of the only minor differences is, if a team is relegated from this league, they are then send to a league called 'The Conference', sometimes called 'Non-League'. This can be detrimental to clubs as when they are put down to this level, attendances at the games usually drop as well as less sponsorships. Meaning that the players then have to get a part time job elsewhere as they are not getting paid enough from the football team itself.
It can be very hard for a team to recover being relegated to the conference as many teams found out the hard way, with household names like Hereford and Darlington completely going out of business as a club.