The British League folded at the end of the 1995-96 season and the leading 23 teams split into three leagues running independently of each other and the governing BIHA. League membership depended heavily upon how many overseas players a club was willing to sign as well as a club?s geographical location. In 1997-98 season, the eight-team Superleague comprised most of the clubs who were formerly members of the old Premier Division of the British League. The winner of the Superleague is considered to be the national champion. The eight teams play a 42-game schedule after which all of them advance to the playoffs. The teams finishing first, third, fifth, and seventh are then placed in Group A, with the four other teams in Group B. After a double round-robin within each group, the two best teams from each group advance to the semi-finals. Both the semi-finals and finals consist of just a single game.
The eight teams in Britain?s Premier League and the seven in the Northern Premier League are mainly members of the old Division One. In the Premier League, the eight teams play each other eight times (for a 56-game schedule per team) with the top six qualifying for the playoffs. Those teams then play a double round-robin series with the top two teams competing in a two-game, total-goal league final. The winner then meets the Northern Premier League playoff champion in the Premier Leagues Championship final.
The seven teams of the Northern Premier League play each other six times for a 36-game schedule. Afterwards, all seven teams are split into two groups for a double round-robin playoff round. The top two teams from each group then advance to a play in a final four-team double round-robin with the top team emerging as the Northern Premier League champion and qualifying to play against the Premier League champion.
Superleague teams are permitted to employ overseas players without any restrictions. Premier League clubs have an agreement to allow three work permit holders per team. The Northern Premier League has the toughest eligibility rules, allowing only three players who require an International Transfer Card (ITC) regardless of passport. In addition, the Northern Premier League imposes a salary cap of 75,000 pounds compared to 250,000 in the Premier League. The Superleague has no salary cap. The Superleague and the Premier League have formed companies to run their organizations ? Ice Hockey Superleague Ltd. and the Premier Ice Hockey League Ltd.
The 20-team English League (with 12 teams in the Southern Conference and eight in the Northern) is run by the English Ice Hockey Association for teams with smaller budgets. These teams rely mostly on players born and trained in Britain. The junior English Under-19 League has nine teams in its North Conference and seven teams in the South.