Championnat National 3
|Number of teams||168 (170 for 2017–18 season)|
|Level on pyramid||5|
|Promotion to||Championnat National 2|
|Relegation to||Division d'Honneur|
|Domestic cup(s)||Coupe de France|
|International cup(s)||Europa League (via domestic cup)|
The Championnat National 3, commonly referred to as simply National 3 and formerly known as Championnat de France Amateur 2, is a football league competition. The league serves as the fifth division of the French football league system behind Ligue 1, Ligue 2, Championnat National, and the Championnat National 2. Usually contested by 168 clubs, the Championnat National 3 operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Championnat National 2 and the regional leagues of the Division d'Honneur, the sixth division of French football. Seasons run from August to May, with teams in twelve groups playing 26 games each totalling 2080 games in the season. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played during weekday evenings. Play is regularly suspended the last weekend before Christmas for two weeks before returning in the second week of January.
The competition was founded in 1993 as National 3 and lasted for five years before being converted to Championnat de France Amateur 2 in 1998. In 2017 the FFF reorganised amateur football and the restructured 5th level again became Championnat National 3. Most clubs that participate in the league are amateur clubs, but a small number of clubs are semi-professional. The matches in the league attract on average between 200 and 400 spectators per match. However, this average is dragged down by the minuscule turnouts for the pros' home reserve matches.
History and format
The amateur championship of France was created in 1993 under the name National 3. The league's debut coincided with the creation of the Championnat National, the third division of French football, which is commonly known as National. For the first three years of the competition, an amateur champion was crowned in France regardless of whether the club was amateur or a reserve team.
In 1998 the competition was renamed Championnat de France Amateur 2 as part of a restructuring of Amateur football. In this guise, the competition saw 112 clubs participate, split into eight parallel groups of 14 with their group affiliation being based on the regional location of the club. The league became open to reserve teams in France and amateur clubs in France and both were eligible for promotion to the Championnat de France Amateur.
In 2017 the FFF reorganised amateur football along the lines of the 2016 reorganisation of the Regions of France, creating Championnat National 2 and Championnat National 3 to replace CFA and CFA2. For National 2 this was in effect just a change of name, whilst National 3 saw a major restructure. This new competition sees 168 clubs participating, in twelve parallel groups closely aligned to the thirteen new regions (Corsica is merged with Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur to form a Méditerranee-Corse group).
During the course of a season, usually from August to May, each club plays the others in their respective group twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 26 games. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored.
At the end of each season, the club with the most points, regardless of the group, is crowned champion and promoted to the Championnat National 2. If points are equal, head-to-head match results, followed by the goal difference, and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship or for relegation, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. The eleven other winners of the other groups are also promoted, while at least the two lowest-placed teams from each group are relegated to the Division d'Honneur.
- "FFF : National, CFA et CFA 2 muteront en 2017 en National 1, National 2 et National 3" (in French). L'Equipe. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2017.