Lega Nazionale Professionisti
|Founded||1946 (as Lega Nazionale)|
|Number of teams||80 (1946–1947)
36 (1952–1958, 1968–1988)
38 (1958–1967, 1988–2003)
|Level on pyramid||1–2|
|Relegation to||Serie C (1946–1978)
Serie C1 (1978–2008)
Lega Pro Prima Divisione (2008–2010)
|Domestic cup(s)||Coppa Italia (1958–2010)
Supercoppa Italiana (1988–2010)
|International cup(s)||European Cup / Champions League (1954–2010)
UEFA Cup / Europa League (1970–2010)
Intertoto Cup (1997–2007)
|Most championships||Serie A: Juventus (28 titles)
Serie B: Genoa (5 titles)
The Lega Nazionale Professionisti (Italian for National League of Professionals), commonly known as Lega Calcio (Football League), was the governing body that ran the two highest football divisions in Italy, namely Serie A and Serie B, from 1946 to 2010. It has ceased to exist on 1 July 2010, following a split between Serie A and Serie B clubs, which led to the creation of two new leagues, the Lega Serie A and Lega Serie B respectively.
The Lega Calcio was founded as the Lega Nazionale (National League) in 1946, after the Second World War, and its name was changed in 1960, shortly after Italy fully recognized professional status for the players of the top divisions. Its predecessor during the fascist era, between 1926 and 1944, was the Direttorio Divisioni Superiori (Directory of Higher Divisions), a league whose president was appointed by the FIGC. Earlier still before, the first football league in Italy was the Lega Nord (Northern League), which was composed of the major clubs of Northern Italy from 1921 to 1926.
Promotion and relegation between the divisions were a central feature of the league: at the end of the season the bottom clubs of Serie B switched with the top clubs of the Lega Pro (or its predecessors), thus integrating the League into the Italian football league system. Besides, the Lega Calcio also organized the main Italian cup competition, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana.
The member clubs of the Lega Calcio were grouped into two divisions: the Serie A and Serie B. In any given season a club played each of the others in the same division twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents.
Clubs gained three points for a win (two before 1994) one for a draw, and none for a defeat. At the end of each season, the club with the most points in the Serie A was crowned champion. If points were equal, the head-to-head records determined the winner (tie-breakers were also used in the past). If still equal, the goal difference and then goals scored became the deciding factors. As for Serie B, at the top end three clubs won promotion to Serie A, with the bottom three Serie A clubs taking their places. At the lower end, four club were relegated to the Lega Pro Prima Divisione, while four teams from the Lega Pro joined the Serie B in their place.
Promotion and relegation were determined by final league positions, but to sustain interest for more clubs over the length of the season in the later years one promotion place from Serie B was decided according to a playoff between four clubs, which took place at the end of the season. It was therefore possible for a team finishing sixth in the championship to be promoted rather than the clubs finishing immediately above them in the standings. Likewise, one relegation place to the Prima Divisione was decided according to a playoff between two clubs.
The Lega Calcio also organised the Supercoppa Italiana, between the champions of the Serie A and the winners of the Coppa Italia.
On 30 April 2009, after divisions between Serie A and Serie B clubs regarding the future of the league, 19 of 20 top flight clubs (the only exception being U.S. Lecce) agreed on plans to split from Serie B to form another governing and financing body, with the same name Serie A, in a move reminiscent of England's Premier League formation in 1992. Subsequently, on 1 July 2010, the Lega Calcio has officially ceased to exist and replaced by the two newly formed leagues, Lega Serie A and Lega Serie B.
List of Lega Nazionale Professionisti presidents
- 1946–1950 Piero Pedroni
- 1950–1957 Saverio Giulini
- 1958–1959 Giuseppe Pasquale (interim)
- 1959–1962 Giuseppe Pasquale
- 1962–1964 Giorgio Perlasca
- 1964–1965 Artemio Franchi (interim)
- 1965–1973 Aldo Stacchi
- 1973–1976 Franco Carraro
- 1976–1977 Antonio Griffi
- 1977–1978 Franco Carraro (interim)
- 1978–1981 Renzo Righetti
- 1982–1987 Antonio Matarrese
- 1987–1996 Luciano Nizzola
- 1997–2001 Franco Carraro
- 2002–2006 Adriano Galliani
- 2006–2009 Antonio Matarrese
- 2009-2009 Giancarlo Abete (interim)
- 2009-2010 Maurizio Beretta
- Italian football league system
- Serie A
- Serie B
- Coppa Italia
- Supercoppa Italiana
- Campionato Nazionale Primavera
- Coppa Italia Primavera
- Supercoppa Primavera