1974 marked the introduction of a second division in the German football league system. Forty clubs, divided into two leagues (North and South), competed for promotion into the Bundesliga. 1981 saw the introduction of a single 2nd Bundesliga of 20 teams. In the 1991–1992 season, the former East German clubs participated as well. This was managed by returning to a two-tier system (with 12 teams in each league). The 1992–93 season was a momentous one, with 24 teams competing in a single league. Since 1994–95, there have been 18 teams in the second division. The most successful team, as of 2012–13, is Alemannia Aachen (1,481 points from 1,020 games).
Members of the 2. Bundesliga (2013–14 season)
For details on the 2. Bundesliga 2013-14 season, see here.
Number of clubs: currently 18. From 1974 to 1981 there were two divisions, each of 20 teams. In 1981–91 it had 20. The 1991–92 season was played in two groups of 12 teams each; 1992–93 again in one group with 24 teams, 1993–94 with 20 teams.
Teams promoted to the higher league: 3; 1981–91 there was a relegation round, in 1991–92 there was 1 promotion per group.
From the 1992–93 season to the 2008–09 season, the top three teams gained promotion into the Bundesliga; after this, and to the present, only the top two teams are promoted automatically, and the third placed team plays a two-leg playoff against the team that finishes 16th in the Bundesliga.
Until the 2007–08 season, the bottom four teams were relegated into the Regional leagues. Since the 2008-9, following the inception of the 3. Liga, only the bottom two teams are relegated into the 3rd Liga automatically; the third from bottom team can avoid relegation by winning a two-leg playoff against the team that finishes in 3rd place in the 3. Liga.
Since the 2006–07 season there is no limit on non-EU players in the league anymore. Instead clubs are required to have 8 players on the squad who have come up through the youth system of a German club, 4 of which have to come from the club's own youth system. Seven substitutes are permitted to be selected, from which three can be used in the duration of the game.
SC Fortuna Köln was the team most consistently in the 2nd Bundesliga. Up to 2000 it spent 26 consecutive years in the 2nd Bundesliga.
From 1974 to 1994, promotions were decided in relegation rounds. Between 1995 and 2008, four teams were promoted from the regional leagues. Since 2008, two teams are promoted directly from the 3rd Liga, while the third placed club plays a promotion/relegation play-off against the 16th placed 2nd Bundesliga team.
Teams relegated to the Regionalliga – Oberliga – 3. Liga since 1990