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For the league system of former East Germany, see East German football league system.
German football league system
Nation
 Germany
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States
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Current Champions 2008–09
VfL Wolfsburg (men)
1. FFC Turbine Potsdam (women)

The German football league system refers to the system in German club football that consists of several football leagues bound together hierarchically by promotion and relegation.

Contents

Structure

Level I: Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is the highest level in the German football league system and is operated by the German Football League (Deutsche Fußball Liga - DFL). 18 professional teams compete for the title of German Football Champion in a round-robin home and away 34 game season. The teams ranked 17th and 18th at the end of the season are automatically relegated to 2nd Bundesliga. The team ranked 16th plays a home and away play-off against the team ranked 3rd in 2nd Bundesliga.

Level II: 2. Bundesliga

The 2. Bundesliga is the second highest level in the German football league system and is also operated by the DFL. 18 professional teams compete in a round-robin home and away 34 game season. The champion and the runner-up are automatically promoted to the Bundesliga. The third-place team plays a home and away play-off against the team placing 16th in the Bundesliga. The two bottom teams (17th and 18th places) at the end of the season are automatically relegated to the 3rd Liga. The team in 16th place plays a home and away play-off against the third-place team from the 3rd Liga.

Level III: 3. Liga

The 3. Liga is the third highest level in the German football league system and is operated by the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball Bund - DFB). 20 professional teams compete in a round-robin home and away 38 game season. The champion and the runner-up are automatically promoted to 2nd Bundesliga. The team ranked 3rd plays a home and away play-off against the team ranked 16th in the 2nd Bundesliga. The teams ranked 18th to 20th at the end of the season are automatically relegated to Regionalliga. The 3rd Liga is a highest level a second team of a professional club is allowed to play. In case of one or more second teams finishing on promotion spots, eligible teams in the following ranks will be promoted.

Level IV: Regionalliga

The Regionalliga is the fourth highest level in the German football league system and is operated by the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball Bund - DFB). 54 semi-professional teams in 3 regional groups of 18 teams each (North, West, South) compete in a round-robin home and away 34 game season. The champions of each of the 3 groups the end of the season are automatically promoted to 3rd Liga. The teams ranked 15th to 18th in the North and 16th to 18th in the West and South Regionalliga at the end of the season are automatically relegated to Oberliga.

Level V: Oberliga

The Oberliga is the fifth highest level in the German football league system and is operated by the 21 regional member associations of DFB. Their jurisdiction typically covers the area of one of the 16 federal states of Germany, whereas several larger states are divided into two or three associations. The 21 associations currently run 12 groups of Oberliga, usually one to three associations run one group. From the 12 groups a total of 10 teams are promoted to Regionalliga. The champions of the 6 Oberliga groups in Eastern and Southern Germany along with the champion and the runner-up of the NRW-Liga (the Oberliga covering the state of Northrhine-Westphalia) are automatically promoted to Regionalliga. The champions of 5 Oberliga groups in Northern Germany have to win additional play-offs for 2 promotions spots. Usually two to four teams of each Oberliga group are relegated to Level VI.

Level VI and lower

Starting at Level VI, each of the 21 regional member associations of DFB run their regional league pyramid under their own jurisdiction. Usually one to three top finishers of each regional associations top level earn a promotion spot to Oberliga, depending on the size of the regional association. Because of the autonomy of the regional associations, the levels of the system below the Oberliga differ by name, size and covered area. A quite common league pyramid consists of Verbandsliga or Landesliga (Level VI), Landesliga or Bezirksoberliga (Level VII), Bezirksliga (Level VIII) and Kreisliga (Levels IX and below). With each level, the number of groups multiplies by two or three, with the area covered becoming smaller. The Kreisliga is finally run by local member associations of the regional associations and covers the area of a major town or a larger borough, with typically two to five hierarchic divisions, usually called Kreisliga A, Kreisliga B, Kreisliga C and so on.

In 2009-10, on Level VI, 33 leagues exist, while Level VII consists of 93 leagues.[1] Taking the 1-3 ratio, the next level, Level VIII, has approximately 270 leagues while Level IX has approximately 800 leagues.

The league system from the 2008-09 season

Level

League(s)/Division(s)

I

Bundesliga
18 clubs
2+1 relegation spots (Bundesliga #16 vs. 2nd Bundesliga #3 home and away match)

II

2nd Bundesliga
18 clubs
2+1 promotion spots
2+1 relegation spots (2nd Bundesliga #16 vs. 3rd Liga #3 home and away match)

III

3rd Liga
20 clubs
2+1 promotion spots (2nd Bundesliga #16 vs. 3rd Liga #3 home and away match)
3 relegation spots

IV

Regionalliga Nord
18 clubs
1 promotion spot
4 relegation spots

Regionalliga West
18 clubs
1 promotion spot
3 relegation spots

Regionalliga Süd
18 clubs
1 promotion spot
3 relegation spots

V

Oberliga Hamburg
18 clubs

Bremen-Liga
16 clubs

Schleswig-Holstein-Liga
18 clubs

1 promotion spots by playoff among 3 Oberliga winners

Oberliga Niedersachsen-West
18 clubs

Oberliga Niedersachsen-Ost
18 clubs

1 promotion spots by playoff among 2 Oberliga winners

NOFV-Oberliga Nord
18 clubs
1 promotion spot

NOFV-Oberliga Süd
18 clubs
1 promotion spot

NRW-Liga
18 clubs
2 promotion spots

Oberliga Südwest
18 clubs
1 promotion spot

Hessenliga
18 clubs
1 promotion spot

Oberliga Baden-Württemberg
18 clubs
1 promotion spot

Oberliga Bayern
18 clubs
1 promotion spot

VI

Landesliga Bremen

Landesliga Hamburg-Hammonia

Landesliga Hamburg-Hansa

Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Nord-Ost

Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Nord-West

Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Süd-Ost

Verbandsliga Schleswig-Holstein-Süd-West

Bezirksoberliga Braunschweig

Bezirksoberliga Hannover

Bezirksoberliga Lüneburg

Bezirksoberliga Weser-Ems

Verbandsliga Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Verbandsliga Brandenburg

Verbandsliga Berlin

Verbandsliga Sachsen-Anhalt

Landesliga Thüringen

Landesliga Sachsen

Verbandsliga Niederrhein

Verbandsliga Mittelrhein

Westfalenliga Group 1

Westfalenliga Group 2

Verbandsliga Rheinland

Verbandsliga Saarland

Verbandsliga Südwest

Verbandsliga Hessen-Nord

Verbandsliga Hessen-Mitte

Verbandsliga Hessen-Süd

Verbandsliga Nordbaden

Verbandsliga Südbaden

Verbandsliga Württemberg

Landesliga Bayern-Nord

Landesliga Bayern-Mitte

Landesliga Bayern-Süd

VII

93 regional leagues [1]

Source:"German football leagues". Fussball.de. http://www.fussball.de/fussball/servlet/content/20. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 

  • All leagues on same level run parallel.

Development of the German football league system

1903–1933

Until the foundation of the German Football Association there had already been lots of different regional and district championships resp. leagues and it was not until 1906 that there was a consistent mode to determine the participants of the German championship that was played as a final tournament until the foundation of the Bundesliga. For that reason football in Germany was divided into seven regions which had their own regional championships (that were mostly played as a cup tournament, too). Only the regional champions and the defending German champion were qualified to play in the championship until 1924, when the number of final tournament participants was increased to 16.

As there were no regional top-level league established the system of many parallel leagues and divisions continued up to the 1933–34 season.

From the late 1920s on there were efforts to install a nationwide professional league, but these efforts were never powerful enough to outreach the strong anti-professionalism from conservative and nationalist officials.

1933–1944

National Socialism took power in Germany in January 1933. This also meant the end of attempts to invent professional football in Germany. But the football authorities did restructure and slightly centralise the football competition system. So in 1933 the Gauliga (county league) system was initiated as a system of 16 top-level divisions similar in strength that replaced the more than thirty previous top-level divisions. The champion of each Gauliga was qualified to play in the German championship tournament. With 10 teams each in the Gau leagues, the number of teams in the top flight was 160, a reduction from 400 to 500 teams until then.[2] The number of Gau leagues increased to 31 in 1944, because of league division for economic reasons (transport costs) and territory annexion during World War II.

1947–1963

After World War II the Oberliga system developed out of the occupation zone championships. The first teams of the five West German top-level divisions (Nord, West, Südwest, Süd, Berlin) qualified for the German championship tournament. From 1949 until 1991 the German Democratic Republic had its own football league system.

1963–1973

Since the late 1920s there had been plans to establish a nationwide professional top-level league, but they all failed because of the opposition by anti-professionalists and the relatively strong regional football associations. In summer 1962, under the influence of the Fifa World Cup quarter finals defeat by Yugoslavia, the German Football Association decided to establish the Bundesliga as a nationwide professional football league.

The previous Oberliga became the second level of the German league system, now named Regionalliga. Its five parallel divisions (Nord, West, Südwest, Süd, Stadtliga Berlin) corresponded with the previous Oberliga divisions.

In the first two years the Bundesliga had 16 members but their number was increased to 18 in 1965. Two teams were relegated to the Regionalliga. The first two teams from each Regionalliga division and the champion of West Berlin competed in a promotion tournament in two groups, whose winners were promoted into the Bundesliga.

1974–1981

Soon it was obvious that the gap between the fully professionalised Bundesliga and the five Regionalliga divisions, where also semi-professional and amateur clubs competed, was too large. Teams relegated from the Bundesliga were in serious danger of bankruptcy. Some clubs tried to avoid this fate by fraudulent behaviour which led to the Bundesliga scandal in 1971.

To close the gap between first and second level the 2nd Bundesliga was introduced. It was divided into a North and a South Division with 20 teams each. The champion of each division and the winner of a play-off between the two runners-up were promoted to the Bundesliga. Three teams were relegated from the Bundesliga. Because of relegation the number of teams in each division differed between 20 and 22.

1981–1991

In 1981 the two divisions of the 2nd Bundesliga were merged into one nationwide division with 20 teams.

1991–1994

As the league systems of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were merged in 1991, the number of teams competing in the Bundesliga was temporarily increased to 20 and to make room for 24 teams the 2nd Bundesliga was again divided into a North and a South division of 12 teams each.

In 1992 the number of competing teams in the Bundesliga was re-decreased to 18 with four teams relegated and only two promoted from the second level. The 2nd Bundesliga played one more season with 24 teams in one division before its size was decreased to 20 members in 1993 and 18 teams in 1994.

1994–2000

In 1994 the Regionalliga was reestablished at the third level of the German football league system. It was divided into four divisions (Nord, Nordost, West/Südwest, Süd). Four teams were promoted to the 2nd Bundesliga. At the beginning these were the four division champions, but later the champions of the Nord and Nordost division had to compete in a promotion play-off while one runner-up from the South or West division was promoted additionally.

2000–2008

From 2000 to 2008 there were two Regionalliga divisions (Nord and Süd), the champions and runners-up of each division were promoted to the 2nd Bundesliga.

2008–

In 2006 the German Football Association decided to establish a further nationwide league at the third level of the German football league system starting with the 2008–09 season. This 3rd Liga consists of 20 teams. In the starting season the league consisted of the four lowest-ranked teams of the 2nd Bundesliga after 2007–08 season and the 3rd to 10th place finishers in both the Regionalliga Nord and the Regionalliga Süd after 2007–08 season.

The champion and the runner-up of 3rd Liga are promoted to the 2nd Bundesliga. The third placed team starts in a home and away play-off against the third-last team of the 2nd Bundesliga. The teams finishing 18th to 20th in the 3rd Liga are relegated to the Regionalliga.

The Regionalliga was continued with an additional division (West) as fourth level of the league system. 54 teams compete in three regional divisions (North, West, South) of 18 teams each. These 54 teams consist of those Regionalliga teams that did not qualify for 3rd Liga after the 2007–08 season and additional teams from Oberliga feeders. Starting in 2008–09, the winner of each Regionalliga division will be promoted to the 3rd Liga.

Scheme

Germany Germany West Germany West Germany West Germany Germany Germany East Germany
Level 2008– 1994–2008 1974–1994 1963–1974 1945–1963 1933–1945 1903–1932 DDR 1949–1991
I Bundesliga Bundesliga Bundesliga Bundesliga Oberliga Gauliga Verbandsliga DDR Oberliga
II 2.Bundesliga 2.Bundesliga 2.Bundesliga Regionalliga 2.Oberliga Bezirksklasse Bezirksliga DDR Liga
III 3.Liga Regionalliga Am. Oberliga 1. Amateurliga 1. Amateurliga Kreisliga ▼ ??? DDR 2.Liga
IV Regionalliga Oberliga Verbandsliga 2. Amateurliga 2. Amateurliga 1. Kreisklasse Bezirksliga
V Oberliga Verbandsliga/Landesligaˡ Landesliga Bezirksklasse Bezirksklasse 2. Kreisklasse Bezirksklasse
VI Verbandsliga/Landesligaˡ Landesliga/Bezirksoberliga Bezirksliga 1. Kreisklasse 1. Kreisklasse Kreisliga
VII Landesliga/Bezirksoberliga Bezirksliga Kreisliga ˡˡ 2. Kreisklasse 2. Kreisklasse 1.Kreisklasse
VIII Bezirksliga Kreisliga ˡˡ Kreisklasse A ˡˡ 3. Kreisklasse 3. Kreisklasse 2.Kreisklasse
IX Kreisliga ˡˡ Kreisklasse A ˡˡ Kreisklasse B ˡˡ
X Kreisklasse A ˡˡ Kreisklasse B ˡˡ Kreisklasse C ˡˡ
XI Kreisklasse B ˡˡ Kreisklasse C ˡˡ
XII Kreisklasse C ˡˡ

ˡ in some areas called Landesliga, in others Verbandsliga.

ˡˡ in some areas called Kreisliga A, Kreisliga B, Kreisliga C and Kreisliga D or 1. Kreisklasse, 2. Kreisklasse and 3. Kreisklasse.

League structure has shifted frequently and typically reflects the degree of participation in the sport in various parts of the country. In the early 90's, changes were driven by the reunification of Germany and the subsequent intregration of the national leagues of East and West Germany. All these levels are interconnected by way of promotion and relegation. The next diagram shows how this works for the first five levels. Note that the actual number of clubs being promoted and relegated below the Regionalliga level is frequently subject to change by the German Football Association.

League timeline 1945 to 2009

External links

References

  1. ^ a b Amateurligen (German) kicker.de - Current tables of the leagues on 5th, 6th and 7th tier, accessed: 12 July 2009
  2. ^ "Die Neuordnung im Fußballsport" (in German). Magdeburgische Zeitung: pp. 8. 1933-07-28. 

Sources








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