|Founded||1948 as Promozione
1981 as Campionato Interregionale
|Number of teams||162|
|Levels on pyramid||4|
|Promotion to||Serie C (Divisione Unica)|
|Domestic cup(s)||Coppa Italia Serie D|
|2014–15 Serie D|
Serie D is the top level of the Italian non-professional football association called Lega Nazionale Dilettanti. The association represents over twelve thousand football players and four hundred football teams across Italy. Serie D ranks just below Lega Pro (the 3rd and last professional league since 2014–15), and is thus considered the 4th ranked league in the country. It is organized by the Roman Comitato Interregionale (Interregional Committee), a "league in the league" inside the LND.
When in 1948 the three leagues running Division 3 (Italian Serie C) had to be reorganized due to an ever growing number of regional teams joining, FIGC decided not to relegate the exceeding teams to regional championships. It chose the winners and a few runners-up from the 36 Serie C championships to be added to the new third division set up into 4 groups. The rest of the teams attended the new Promozione which changed name in 1952 into Quarta Serie (Fourth Division) and then in 1959 into Serie D.
From 1959 each player attending the Serie D championships had to opt for semi-professional status by signing a specially issued status attribution form. The championship was so included in the Lega Nazionale Semiprofessionisti, today known as Lega Pro. Serie D had to be re-organized in 1981 when championships had to be reduced so that league name changed too into the new name Interregionale and players lost semi-pro status and converted to amateurs. The championship consequently passed into the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti. From 1992 to 1999 had the name changed into Campionato Nazionale Dilettanti before eventually returning to the current Serie D name. With the merger of the Lega Pro's two divisions at the end of the 2013–14 season (as decided by the FIGC and Lega Pro in November 2012) to reestablish Serie C, Serie D and the leagues below it will move up by one level in the pyramid system, reducing the number of leagues in Italian football to nine.
Since the early 1990s, Serie D has consisted of 162 teams split into 9 regional divisions (Gironi), usually formed of 18 teams each divided geographically.
But for the 2012–13 season, the teams are 166 and two groups (B and C) are formed of 20 teams. Their distribution by region is as follows:
- Girone A - teams from Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria & Lombardy.
- Girone B - teams from Lombardy & Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.
- Girone C - teams from Friuli-Venezia Giulia & Veneto.
- Girone D - teams from Emilia-Romagna & Tuscany.
- Girone E - teams from Lazio, Tuscany & Umbria.
- Girone F - teams from Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche & Molise.
- Girone G - teams from Campania, Lazio & Sardinia.
- Girone H - teams from Apulia, Basilicata & Campania.
- Girone I - teams from Calabria, Campania & Sicily.
The first-placed team from each division is promoted to Lega Pro Seconda Divisione each year, and replaces one of the 9 teams from Lega Pro Seconda Divisione that is relegated down to Serie D.
If a newly promoted Serie D team fails to meet the requirements, Seconda Divisione asks the second-placed team in that Serie D team's division to fill the vacancy. Failing that, even the third-placed team may fill the vacancy, and so on.
In most years, one or more teams from the senior leagues from Serie A down to Lega Pro Seconda Divisione fail to meet the regulatory or financial requirements to remain there. These vacancies are usually announced in the summer rest period as the new season is being organized. As teams move up to fill the void created by these failed teams, spaces are created in Lega Pro Seconda Divisione that need to be filled.
For example, in the 2007-08 season there were nine such failures, and thus, nine Lega Pro Seconda Divisione spaces were created. Four of those spaces were filled by calling back teams that had played in Seconda Divisione but were relegated to Serie D for the next season. The other five vacancies were filled by Serie D teams that had participated in the Serie D playoffs.
Playoffs are held after the regular season is over and involve teams placed second through fifth in each division. The first two rounds are single game elimination matches played at the home of the higher-classified team. Games ending in ties are extended to extra time. New for 2007-08, if games are still tied after extra time, the higher classified team is declared the winner. No penalty kicks are taken.
In round one, for each division, the 5th-placed team is matched against the 2nd-placed team, and the 4th-placed team is matched against the 3rd-placed team. Round 2 matches the two winners. At the end of round 2, one team from each division survives. The nine winners are grouped into 3 groups of three and play each team in their own group once (one at home and one away). The three group winners qualify for the play-off semi-finals. New for 2007-08, the Coppa Italia Serie D winner qualifies for the 4th semi-final spot. The semi-finals are a two-legged tie, with the winners qualifying for a one-game final match played at a neutral site.
The playoff results provide the league with a list from which it may choose teams to fill vacancies in Seconda Divisione. In 2007-08, the top 5 placed play-off teams were selected to fill vacancies, however, in 2006-07, no team was needed to fill vacancies.
After the regular season is complete, teams placed 6th-last through to 3rd-last in each division play a double-leg series (6th-last vs 3rd-last, 5th-last vs 4th-last) where the winners remain in Serie D the following season and the two losers are also relegated to Eccellenza, a regional amateur league below this, for a total of 4 relegations in each division, 36 in total for the league.
There are no play-out if the difference between 6th-last vs 3rd-last and that between 5th-last vs 4th-last is bigger than eight points.
Serie D does not use head-to-head results to order teams that are tied in points in certain situations, single-game tie-breakers are held at neutral sites instead. Those situations are the following:
- a tie between 1st and 2nd place, where the winner would get a direct promotion to Seconda Divisione and loser qualifies for the play-offs.
- a tie between 5th and 6th place, where only the winner would qualify to participate in the play-offs.
- a tie between 7th-last and 6th-last, where the winner avoids participating in the relegation play-out.
- a tie between 3rd-last and 2nd-last, where the winner qualifies for the relegation play-out and the loser is directly relegated.
Head-to-head results are used in all other situations, such as when all the teams involved are qualified in the promotional playoffs, or all teams are participating in the relegation playoffs.
Each year, after the end of the regular season, the winners of the nine Serie D divisions qualify for a championship tournament in order to assign the so-called Scudetto Dilettanti (amateur champions' title).
Round one divides the nine teams into three groups of three teams each where each team plays a single game against each of its other two opponents. The three group winners and best second-placed team advance to the semifinals.
The first scudetto dilettanti was assigned in 1952-1953, when the Serie D was still called IV Serie (fourth division). Its assignation was suspended from 1958-1959 to 1991-1992.
- Successively not admitted to Serie C2.
- Successively not admitted to Serie C2.
- "Calcio: CF approva riforma Lega Pro, 60 squadre dal 2014-15" (in Italian). ASCA Agenzia di Stampa. 21 November 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
- (Italian) Official website of the Serie D
- (Italian) News of Serie D
- (Italian) Tutti i gironi della serie D su Calciotel