Championnat de France Amateur 2
|Number of teams||112 (2016–17 season)|
|Level on pyramid||5|
|Promotion to||Championnat de France Amateur|
|Relegation to||Division d'Honneur|
|Domestic cup(s)||Coupe de France|
|International cup(s)||Europa League (via domestic cup)|
|Current champions||Reims (res.)
|Website||Official site[permanent dead link]|
The Championnat de France Amateur 2, commonly referred to as simply CFA 2 and formerly known as National 3, 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 de France Amateur. Contested by 112 clubs, the Championnat de France Amateur 2 operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Championnat de France Amateur and the regional leagues of the Division d'Honneur, the sixth division of French football. Seasons run from August to May, with teams in eight 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 Championnat de France Amateur 2 was founded in 1993 as National 3 and lasted for five years before being converted to the current format used today. Most clubs that participate in the league are amateur clubs, hence the league name, 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.
There are 112 clubs that participate in the Championnat de France Amateur 2 for 2015–16. The clubs are split into eight parallel groups of 14 with their group affiliation being based on the regional location of the club. The league is open to reserve teams in France and amateur clubs in France and both are eligible for promotion to the Championnat de France Amateur. 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. Since the league is considered amateur, teams receive four points for a win and two points for a draw. One point is awarded for a loss. A club gets no points from a game for certain disciplinary reasons or if they forfeit. 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 de France Amateur. 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 seven other highest-placed amateur teams in the other groups are also promoted, while the three lowest-placed teams from each group are relegated to the Division d'Honneur. Alongside the winners of the groups, the top four second-place finishers, regardless of group, are also promoted to the fourth division.