Dutch football league system

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The Dutch football league system consists of two fully professional leagues (Eredivisie and Eerste Divisie), one semi-professional level (Topklasse) and seven levels of amateur football leagues, the highest of which is called Hoofdklasse. All the leagues are connected by a promotion and relegation system, but in order to be promoted to the Eerste Divisie a club has to submit a solid business plan to be approved by the Royal Dutch Football Association, as well as meet certain stadium demands, and some other demands that the Football Association stated for all the teams in the top two leagues. That way it was possible that the IJsselmeervogels won the 2010–11 Topklasse, but was not promoted, because they did not want to be bound to these demands. FC Oss was promoted instead. The Football Association obliges every team from the two fully professional leagues to contract 16 players full-time, in order to keep these leagues fully professional. In 2016 Tweede Divisie will be reintroduced as a semi-professional level, to be placed between the Eerste Divisie and the Topklasse.[1]

Before the introduction of the Topklasse[edit]

While they are largely interconnected by way of relegations and promotions, until 2010 it was not possible to be relegated to the Hoofdklasse from the second professional league. In order for an amateur club to be promoted to the professional leagues, it had to submit a solid business plan, as well as meet certain stadium demands, and the demands that the Football Association stated for all the teams in the top two leagues. Because the teams in the Hoofdklasse were becoming more and more semi-professional, and more and more teams were making the step to fully professional football, it was decided to form a new level between the Hoofdklasse and the Eerste Divisie, called the Topklasse consisting of a group for Saturday and a group for Sunday, starting from the season 2010/2011. The Eerste Divisie, consisting of twenty teams back then was reduced to 18 teams, with the two teams that finished last in the 2009–10 Eerste Divisie relegating to the new level. Because of the bankruptcy of HFC Haarlem, the Netherlands' oldest football club, only FC Oss was relegated. After the first season FC Oss promoted back to the Eerste Divisie because Topklasse-champion IJsselmeervogels refused to meet the football association's demands. Almere City FC should have been relegated that season, but stayed in the Eerste Divisie because of the bankruptcy of RBC Roosendaal. This results in the fact that in the current competition there's no mixing anymore between the teams that were competing in the Eerste Divisie and Hoofklasse before the introduction of the Topklasse.

Men[edit]

Level

Level Name

League(s)/Division(s)

1

Eredivisie

Eredivisie
18 clubs

2

Eerste Divisie

Eerste Divisie
20 clubs

3

Topklasse

Saturday Group
16 clubs

Sunday Group
16 clubs

4

Hoofdklasse

Saturday A
14 clubs

Saturday B
14 clubs

Saturday C
14 clubs

Sunday A
14 clubs

Sunday B
14 clubs

Sunday C
14 clubs

5 Eerste klasse West I West II South I South II East North
Sat.1A

14 clubs

Sun.1A

14 clubs

Sat.1B

14 clubs

Sun.1B

14 clubs

Sat.1C

14 clubs

Sun.1C

14 clubs

Sun.1D

14 clubs

Sat.1D

14 clubs

Sun.1E

14 clubs

Sat.1E

14 clubs

Sun.1F

14 clubs

6 Tweede Klasse West I West II South I South II East North
2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups
7 Derde Klasse West I West II South I South II East North
4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 2 Groups 8 Groups 8 Groups
8 Vierde Klasse West I West II South I South II East North
15 Groups 9 Groups 12 Groups 8 Groups 12 Groups 8 Groups
9 Vijfde Klasse West I West II South I South II East North
5 Groups 4 Groups 9 Groups 8 Groups 11 Groups

[2]

Professional leagues[edit]

Until 1971, when it was discontinued, a Tweede Divisie (English: Second Division) also existed, comparable to the current Topklasse. The champion of the Eerste Divisie is promoted directly to the Eredivisie, the team finishing lowest in the Eredivisie is relegated to the Eerste Divisie. the teams finishing 16th and 17th in the Eredivisie compete in promotion and relegation play-offs with 8 teams from the Eerste Divisie, in which the teams from the Eredivisie and the four best teams from the Eerste Divisie play two rounds, and the other four teams play three rounds. The Tweede Divisie will be reintroduced in 2016, decrementing the Topklasse and lower leagues by a level.[1]

Topklasse[edit]

Since the 2010/2011 season, 32 teams compete in the Topklasse (English: Top Class), divided over a Saturday and a Sunday league, both containing 16 teams. After the season the Saturday- and Sunday Champion compete for the overall championship. The Topklasse champion promotes to the Eerste Divisie (Tweede Divisie from 2016), if they refuse promotion or don't meet necessary criteria, the runners-up will replace them. If also the runners-up refuse promotion or don't meet necessary criteria, no team will get relegated from the Eerste Divisie or Tweede Divisie.

Amateur leagues[edit]

The highest league is called Hoofdklasse, which is then followed by seven numbered amateur leagues. Reserve teams do not participate in these leagues, as they have leagues of their own.

  • The highest amateur league is called Hoofdklasse (English: Main Class). It is divided into three divisions each of Saturday and Sunday clubs, with 14 clubs in each division. The champions of the three Saturday divisions compete for the overall Saturday title, as do the three Sunday champions for the Sunday title. The Saturday league champion and the Sunday league champion then compete for the title of national amateur champion.
  • The next amateur league is called Eerste klasse (English: First Class), with five Saturday league divisions and six Sunday league divisions, with 14 clubs each.
  • Tweede Klasse (English: Second Class), with ten Saturday league divisions and twelve Sunday league divisions, with 14 clubs each.
  • The next level, Derde Klasse (English: Third Class), is additionally divided into regional groups. The Saturday league is divided into five regional groups with four divisions each, and the Sunday league is divided into six regional groups, again with four divisions each. Each division has between 11 and 14 clubs.
  • In the Vierde Klasse (English: Fourth Class), the number of divisions varies from two to eight. Again, each division contains between 11 and 14 clubs. This is the lowest amateur league in the West 2 region.
  • The lowest amateur league overall, in all regions except for the West 2 region, is the Vijfde Klasse (English: Fifth Class). The Saturday league has one regional group and the Sunday league is divided into the same six regions. The number of divisions varies from four to nine, with each division having between 11 and 14 clubs.
  • Until 2015, Zesde Klasse (English: Sixth Class) had no regional groupings for the Saturday league (all teams were from the North-region), but four for the Sunday league. The number of divisions was between three and seven, with 10 to 14 clubs participating in each division.
  • Until 2010, Zevende Klasse (English: Seventh Class) only existed in Sunday football in the North region. There was a total of three division, with 10 to 14 clubs participating in each division.

Women[edit]

Until 2007 the Hoofdklasse was the top division. From 2007 the Eredivisie was the top division until 2011 when the BeNe League was created. In 2011/12 the topklasse was created above the Hoofklasse. Since 2015 the Eredivisie again is the top level league, as the BeNe League was ended.. The Hoofdklasse plays its matches on two different days per division.

Level

League(s)/Division(s)

1

Eredivisie
7 clubs

2

Topklasse
12 clubs

3

Hoofdklasse Saturday
12 clubs

Hoofdklasse Sunday
12 clubs

4

Eerste Klasse
Group A 12 clubs

Eerste Klasse
Group B 12 clubs

Eerste Klasse
Group C 12 clubs

Eerste Klasse
Group D 12 clubs

5+

regional leagues

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b plans for a new Tweede Divisie starting 2016/2017 "Plannen tweede divisie gaan door". NOS.nl (in Dutch). 2 December 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Competitions for 2015–16 (Dutch) HollandseVelden.nl

External links[edit]

  • League321.com - Dutch football league tables, records & statistics database. (English)