The South Antrim football league was set up after the former Lisburn League folded leaving clubs in that league with nowhere to play their football. Some clubs moved to the Mid-Ulster league, however Suffolk FC arranged a meeting of the remaining clubs to discuss the setting up of a new league. The meeting was Chaired by Mervyn Cairns, then secretary of Dunmurry YM football club (Amateur league). David Martin, a then member of the IFA committee also attended to give advice and support.
After a number of meetings the South Antrim Football league was set up in July 2003. The league is affiliated to the County Antrim FA and the IFA. Clifford Hanna, a referee at the time, was elected as chairman of the league.
The league started its first season with 9 clubs. Warren YM, Lambeg Rangers, Suffolk, Dunmurry Sports & South Belfast were all previously in the Lisburn league. They were joined by Crewe United II, Lisburn City, 112th Old Boys and Warren YM introduced a second team.
The league has continued to grow from then, increasing to 2 divisions in 2005/06 and 3 divisions in 2013/14. The majority of the teams in the league are from Lisburn, South Belfast & East Belfast with matches mainly being played in these areas.
Teams compete in the Junior Cup & Junior Shield as well as a number of internal cup competitions. The main cup competition is the Ironside Cup with the final being held on Boxing Day each year. The other Cup competitions are the Gordon Hanna Trophy (Replaced the John Cleland Trophy), the Supplementary Cup and the Supplementary Shield.