Japan Football League
|Number of teams||14|
|Levels on pyramid||3 (1999–2013)
4 (2014– )
|Promotion to||J. League Division 2 (1999–2013)
J3 League (2014– )
|Relegation to||Japanese Regional Leagues|
|Domestic cup(s)||Emperor's Cup|
|Current champions||Nagano Parceiro
|Most championships||Honda FC
|2014 Japan Football League|
- For the league before 1998 (Japan futtobōru Līgu (ジャパンフットボールリーグ?), referred to in this page as "the former JFL"), see Japan Football League (1992–1998).
The Japan Football League, (日本フットボールリーグ Nihon futtobōru Līgu?) also known as simply the JFL is the 4th tier of the Japanese association football league system, positioned beneath three divisions of J. League, and the top tier of amateur football in the country. Despite its officially amateur status the league features fully professional teams that hold J. League associate membership among its ranks.
The Japan Football League started from the 1999 season when the second division of J. League (J2) was also born. Until then, J. League consisted of only one division and the former JFL was the second highest division. Out of 16 teams who played the last season of the former JFL, 9 decided and were accepted to play in J2 and the other 7 teams as well as Yokogawa Electric, the winners of the Regional Promotion Series, formed the new Japan Football League. These 8 teams together with Yokohama FC that was allowed to participate as a special case after the merger of Yokohama Flügels and Yokohama Marinos competed in the inaugural 1999 season.
The 9 teams that competed in the first season were as follows: Denso SC, Honda Motor, Jatco FC, Kokushikan University F.C., Mito HollyHock, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Sony Sendai, Yokohama FC and Yokogawa Electric.
In the second season the number of clubs was increased from 9 to 12, reaching 16 in 2001. In 2002 it was briefly 18 clubs before going back to 16 the next season and settling for good at 18 in 2006. For the 2012 season it will only have 17 clubs due to the late withdrawal of Arte Takasaki.
The league suffered another contraction after 2013 season, as 10 of its 18 teams have joined the newly created J3 League. It also moved the league a tier down the pyramid, making it fourth-tier league starting 2014.
JFL clubs may be affiliated to companies, or be entirely autonomous clubs or reserve teams of these. Until 2010, university clubs (which as a rule do not play in the Japanese football league system) were recommended by the Japan University Football Association and played off against bottom JFL teams for entrance. B-teams are allowed to participate but only A-squads of truly autonomous clubs are eligible for J. League Associate Membership, and with it, promotion to the J. League.
Promotion from JFL
In 2012 and 2013 season. A club that satisfies the following criteria will be promoted to J. League Div. 2.
- Have J. League Associate Membership
- Finish the season in the top two in JFL
- If only the champion is an Associate Member, it will be automatically promoted.
- If both the champion and runner-up are Associate Members, the champion will be automatically promoted and the runner-up will play a Promotion/Relegation Series against the second-to-last club in J2.
- If only the runner-up is an Associate Member, it will play the Promotion/Relegation Series against the last club in J2.
- Pass the final inspection by J. League Committee
As the establishment of J. league division 3 in 2014 season. The Top 2 requirement is no longer necessary should a team is approved by J. League Committee and is a J. League Associate Member. However, they'll start at J3 instead. The JFL will be the highest tier of amateur level football league in Japan again, through, they still serve the purpose of helping potential J.League participants to participate the J3.
Relegation from JFL
Up to two teams at the bottom of the league may face a direct relegation or relegation/promotion play-off against the teams finishing at the top of the All Japan Regional Football Promotion League Series. The number of the teams who need to compete in the play-off varies depending on the number of the teams that are promoted to J3 or withdrawn from the JFL.
Emperor's Cup eligibility
Until 2008, only the club at the top of the standings at half-season (17 matches completed) was qualified for the Emperor's Cup, entering it at the third round along with the clubs in J2, but the allotment was widened to the top three clubs in 2010 due to the expansion of J2. Every other club must qualify through a qualifying cup in their own prefecture and then must enter at the first round.
Template:JFL map 2013 The following eighteen clubs will compete in the 2013 season. The league will follow double round-robin system, home and away.
|Club Name||First Season
for J. League
|Blaublitz Akita||2007||Akita Prefecture||2007–||Yes|
|Sony Sendai||1999||Miyagi Prefecture||1999–||No|
|Fukushima United||2013||Fukushima, Fukushima||2013–||Yes|
|Tochigi Uva||2010||Tochigi, Tochigi||2010–||Yes|
|Yokogawa Musashino||1999||Musashino, Tokyo||1999–||No|
|Machida Zelvia||2009||Machida, Tokyo||2009–2011, 2013–||Yes|
|SC Sagamihara||2013||Sagamihara, Kanagawa||2013–||Yes|
|Nagano Parceiro||2011||Nagano, Nagano||2011–||Yes|
|Zweigen Kanazawa||2010||Kanazawa, Ishikawa||2010–||Yes|
|Fujieda MYFC||2012||Fujieda, Shizuoka||2012–||Yes|
|Honda FC||1999||Hamamatsu, Shizuoka||1999–||No|
|MIO Biwako Shiga||2008||Otsu, Shiga||2008–||Yes|
|Sagawa Printing||2003||Uji, Kyoto||2003–||No|
|Kamatamare Sanuki||2011||Kagawa Prefecture||2011–||Yes|
|Hoyo Oita||2012||Oita Prefecture||2012–||No|
|Honda Lock||2005||Miyazaki, Miyazaki||2005, 2009–||No|
|FC Ryukyu||2006||Okinawa Prefecture||2006–||Yes|
- Gray background denotes club was most recently relegated/demoted from J. League Division 2.
- Pink background denotes club was most recently promoted from Japanese Regional Leagues through the Regional Promotion Series.
- "Qualifiable base for J. League" indicates the club has the basic prerequisites for J. League Associate Membership. Clubs who actually hold the membership will be denoted in bold.
Championship, promotion and relegation history
Third-tier League: 1999–2013
Fourth-tier League: 2014—
|Season||Champions||Runners-up||Promoted to J3 after the season||Promoted from Regional Leagues before the season||Relegated to Regional Leagues after the season|
|2014||Fagiano Okayama Next
Kagoshima United FC
Azul Claro Numazu
Maruyasu Industries SC