|Founded||1959 (as Lega Nazionale Semiprofessionisti)|
|Divisions||Lega Pro Prima Divisione
Lega Pro Seconda Divisione
|Number of teams||69|
|Levels on pyramid||3–4|
|Promotion to||Serie B (Lega Pro Prima Divisione)
Lega Pro Prima Divisione (Lega Pro Seconda Divisione)
|Relegation to||Lega Pro Seconda Divisione (Lega Pro Prima Divisione)
Serie D (Lega Pro Seconda Divisione)
|Domestic cup(s)||Coppa Italia Lega Pro
Supercoppa di Prima Divisione
Supercoppa di Seconda Divisione
|Current champions||Prima Divisone:
Trapani (group A)
Avellino (group B):
Pro Patria (group A)
Salernitana (group B)
(2012–13 Lega Pro Prima Divisione
2012–13 Lega Pro Seconda Divisione)
|TV partners||Rai Sport 1|
|2013–14 Prima Divsione; 2013–14 Seconda Divsione|
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 third and fourth highest football divisions in Italy, the Prima Divisione and Seconda Divisione respectively. It also includes the sole professional club of San Marino. Its headquarters are in Florence.
Currently, Prima Divisione consists 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 consists 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 will be merged into a unique league composed by three groups of 20 teams each starting from the 2014–15 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.
The current season
In each of the two groups two teams are promoted.
The first-placed team in a particular division is automatically promoted, while the 2nd through 5th placed teams enter a playoff tournament to determine the other team that will be promoted. The first round pairs the 2nd placed team vs the 5th placed team and the 3rd vs the 4th in a two legged series with the higher classified team having home advantage in the 2nd leg. The team with the higher aggregate score moves on to the second round. In the event of a tie on aggregate, the higher classified team moves on (the away goals rule is not used). The two winners play each other under exactly the same format to determine the second team that will be promoted.
In the relegation zone, teams finishing last in the regular season, plus two relegation playouts losers from each division will be relegated. There is no second round in the playouts.
The promotions in Lega Pro Prima Divisione are in all six: three for each group.
The two first-placed teams in a particular division is automatically promoted, while the 3rd through 6th placed teams enter a playoff tournament to determine the other team that will be promoted. The first round pairs the 3r placed team vs the 6th placed team and the 4th vs the 5th in a two legged series with the higher classified team having home advantage in the 2nd leg. The team with the higher aggregate score moves on to the second round. In the event of a tie on aggregate, the higher classified team moves on (the away goals rule is not used). The two winners play each other under exactly the same format to determine the third team that will be promoted.
The relegations in Serie D are in all nine: the last three teams in the regular season, plus one relegation play-out loser from each division and the loser the final play-out between the two winners of the semifinals, will be relegated to Serie D.
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.