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For The Croatian Third League (3. Hrvatska Nogometna Liga), see Treća HNL.
3rd Liga
Countries Germany
Confederation UEFA
Founded 2008
Number of teams 20
Promotion to 2. Bundesliga
Relegation to Regionalliga Nord
Regionalliga Süd
Regionalliga West
Levels on pyramid 3
Domestic cup(s) DFB-Pokal
Current champions 1. FC Union Berlin
Most championships 1. FC Union Berlin (1 title)
3rd Liga 2009–10

The 3rd Liga is the third division of football in Germany. The league started with the beginning of the 2008-09 season, when it replaced the Regionalliga as the third-highest football league in Germany. In the German football league system, it is positioned between the 2. Bundesliga and the semi-professional Regionalliga, which is now the fourth division and consists of three groups of 18 clubs playing separately.



On 8 September 2006, the German Football Association, the DFB, announced the formation of the 3rd Liga. It was originally anticipated that the league's name would be 3. Bundesliga, but the DFB chose 3. Liga instead, reflecting the fact that the league will be directly administered by the DFB, not by the DFL (Deutsche Fußball Liga, English:German Football League) who runs the two Bundesligen[1]. This system is similar to France's Championnat National or Japan's Japan Football League, where the third tier is a unified semi-professional league directly run by the national governing body.

At the end of the 2007-08 season, the two best teams which are not reserve teams from each of the two divisions of the Regionalliga were promoted to the 2. Bundesliga. The teams ranked 3rd to 10th in both Regionalliga divisions were promoted to the new 3rd Liga, joining the four teams relegated from the 2007-08 2. Bundesliga to form the 20-team division. The teams finishing 11th or lower in their division, remained in the Regionalliga, that starting 2008-09 is now the fourth level.

Division set-up

The teams which are not reserve teams among the 20 teams in the league will compete for promotion to the 2nd Bundesliga, while the 3 bottom teams will be relegated to one of the new three divisions of the Regionalliga. If, however, a reserve team is playing in the 3rd Liga and the respective first team is relegated to the 3rd Liga, the reserve team will be relegated regardless of its league position.

The first match of the 3rd Liga was played on 25 July 2008 between FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt and Dynamo Dresden at the Steigerwaldstadion in Erfurt. Dynamo Dresden won the match 1-0, with Halil Savran scoring the only goal in the closing stages of the first half.

Qualifying for the 3rd Liga

Original members, 2008-09

At the end of the 2007-08 2. Bundesliga season on 18 May 2008, four clubs were relegated from the 2. Bundesliga. Pending DFB approval, they will become charter members of the 3. Liga.

Additionally, at the end of the 2007-08 Regionalliga seasons on 31 May 2008, eight clubs from the Regionalliga Nord and eight clubs from the Regionalliga Süd have also qualified.

From the Regionalliga Nord:

From the Regionalliga Süd:

As there are currently only three reserve teams on qualification spots for the league, the rule that only two second teams from each group can be admitted to the new 3rd Liga does not have any direct effects.

Source:"Tables of the 2nd Bundesliga and Regionalligas". Retrieved 2008-05-31. 

Champions of the 3rd Liga

Season Champions Runners-up Third
2008-09 1. FC Union Berlin Fortuna Düsseldorf SC Paderborn 07
  • Bold denotes team earned promotion.


External links (sites in German)





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