|Founded||1959 (as Lega Nazionale
|Divisions||3 geographical divisions:
North & Sardinia, Central, South
|Number of teams||60|
|Levels on pyramid||3|
|Promotion to||Serie B|
|Relegation to||Serie D|
|Domestic cup(s)||Coppa Italia Lega Pro
Supercoppa di Lega Pro
|Current champions||Prima Divisone:
Virtus Entella (group A)
Perugia (group B):
Bassano Virtus (group A)
Messina (group B)
(2013–14 Lega Pro Prima Divisione
2013–14 Lega Pro Seconda Divisione)
|TV partners||Rai Sport 1|
|2014–15 Lega Pro|
The Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico (Italian for Italian Professional Football League), commonly known as Lega Pro (Pro League), is the governing body that runs the eponymous third highest football division in Italy. It also includes the sole professional club of San Marino. Its headquarters are in Florence.
In the last edition (2013–14), Prima Divisione consisted of two groups: Girone A and Girone B, respectively of 17 and 16 teams. At the end of the season, four teams (two from each group) go up to Serie B and six teams (three from each group) go down to Seconda Divisione.
Also Seconda Divisione consisted of two groups: Girone A and Girone B, but both of 18 teams. At the end of the season, six teams (three from each group) go up to Lega Pro Prima Divisione and nine teams (four from each group plus the loser play-out from each division) go down to Serie D. In both the Seconda Divisione, teams are split by geographical criteria, with the exception of the Sicilian team Milazzo that plays in group A.
The Seconda Divisione, until the summer 2010 consisted of 54 teams, but in the season 2010–11 the teams were only 49 divided geographically into three divisions of 17, 16 and 16 teams each. At the end of the season, six teams (two from each group) went up to the Prima Divisione and four: two for the group A and one for each of the other two groups, went down to Serie D.
On 21 November 2012, it was announced that the two levels would be merged into a unique league composed by three groups of 20 teams each starting from the 2014–15 season. The merge became effective with the 2014–15 Lega Pro season.
A third division above the regional leagues was first created in Italy in 1926, when fascist authorities decided to reform the major championships on a national basis, increasing the number of teams participating by promoting many regional teams from the Third Division (Terza Divisione) to the Second Division (Seconda Divisione).
A new league running this Second Division, the Direttorio Divisioni Inferiori Nord (Northern Directory of Lower Divisions) was set up in Genoa, while the football activity in the southern part of the country was run by the Direttorio Divisioni Inferiori Sud which later became the Direttorio Meridionale (Southern Directory). Those leagues did not last long: after another reform, they were disbanded between 1930 and 1931. Some, mostly high level teams owning large pitches with dimensions of 100x60 metres, were promoted to the First Division (Prima Divisione) a league defined and structured as the "National Championship".
The Second Division had no relegations at all to regional leagues because most of them were reelected at the beginning of the new season. When a critical limit was reached the Italian federation decided to close the two leagues and move all teams to the "Direttori Regionali" (Regional Committees) so that the labour-intensive job of organisation was delegated to well grown, improved, and organised regional staff.
The best teams coming from the Second Divisions in 5 years (from 1926-27 to 1930-31) composed 6 ever growing sections of the First Division (Prima Divisione) which at the beginning had just a few teams in just one section from southern Italy.
This championship was organized by the same league governing Serie A and Serie B (the "Direttorio Divisioni Superiori"), even if, as opposed to the two higher divisions, it was structured in local groups with geographical criteria. The number of clubs belonging to the Prima Divisione continued to increase every year, until FIGC decided to rename it as "Serie C" (at the beginning of the 1935-36 season) and then a big reduction in 1948 that created a sole national division in 1952-53.
The reform creating the actual league was decided by Bruno Zauli in 1959 when, because of the incomplete work started by the former president Ottorino Barassi, professional football was fully recognised and organised. While Lega Calcio had the mission of organising professional and national divisions, the new Lega Nazionale Semiprofessionisti based in Florence had to regulate the two semiprofessional and subnational divisions: Serie C and Serie D, with the first one adopting a format of three groups of 20 teams each. In 1978 the semiprofessional sector was abolished, Serie D became an amateur section, Serie C was divided into two professional divisions (Serie C1 and Serie C2), and the league changed its name to Lega Professionisti Serie C. On 20 June 2008 the league was restructured and took its current name Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico.
After the league reform of 2014, the two previous divisions of Lega Pro Prima Divisione and Lega Pro Seconda Divisione were ultimately merged into a unique one, called Lega Pro Divisione Unica and more informally addressed as just Lega Pro. The new league is composed by 60 teams, divided geographically in three groups of 20 each, and will promote four teams to Serie B (three group winners, plus one coming from a promotion playoff involving the three group runners-up), and nine relegations to Serie D: last-placed teams from each group will go down directly, whereas teams between 16th and 19th place will play a relegation playoff (officially referred to as play-out), with two losing teams of them per each group being relegated as well.
Past champions in Serie C
- "Calcio: CF approva riforma Lega Pro, 60 squadre dal 2014-15" (in Italian). ASCA Agenzia di Stampa. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.