|Founded||1935 as Serie C
(refounded in 2014 as Lega Pro, then in 2017 again as Serie C)
|Divisions||3 geographical divisions:
North East, North West, South
|Number of teams||60|
|Level on pyramid||3|
|Promotion to||Serie B|
|Relegation to||Serie D|
|Domestic cup(s)||Coppa Italia
Supercoppa di Lega Pro
|League cup(s)||Coppa Italia Lega Pro|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Europa League
(via winning Coppa Italia)
|Current champions||Cremonese (Group A)
Venezia (Group B)
Foggia (Group C)
(2016–17 Lega Pro)
|Most championships||Cremonese (6 titles)|
|TV partners||Rai Sport 1|
|2017–18 Serie C|
Serie C (formerly Lega Pro) is the governing body that runs the eponymous third highest football division in Italy. Its headquarters are in Florence. The unification of the Lega Pro Prima Divisione and the Lega Pro Seconda Divisione as Lega Pro in 2014 reintroduced the format of the original Serie C that existed between 1935 and 1978 (before split into Serie C1 and Serie C2). On 25 May 2017 the Lega Pro assembly unanimously approved the return to the original name Serie C.
A third division above the regional leagues was first created in Italy in 1926, when fascist authorities decided to reform the major championships on a national basis, increasing the number of teams participating by promoting many regional teams from the Third Division (Terza Divisione) to the Second Division (Seconda Divisione).
A new league running this Second Division, the Direttorio Divisioni Inferiori Nord (Northern Directory of Lower Divisions) was set up in Genoa, while the football activity in the southern part of the country was run by the Direttorio Divisioni Inferiori Sud which later became the Direttorio Meridionale (Southern Directory). Those leagues did not last long: after another reform, they were disbanded between 1930 and 1931. Some, mostly high level teams owning large pitches with dimensions of 100x60 metres, were promoted to the First Division (Prima Divisione) a league defined and structured as the "National Championship".
The Second Division had no relegations at all to regional leagues because most of them were reelected at the beginning of the new season. When a critical limit was reached the Italian federation decided to close the two leagues and move all teams to the "Direttori Regionali" (Regional Committees) so that the labour-intensive job of organisation was delegated to well grown, improved, and organised regional staff.
The best teams coming from the Second Divisions in 5 years (from 1926-27 to 1930-31) composed 6 ever growing sections of the First Division (Prima Divisione) which at the beginning had just a few teams in just one section from southern Italy.
This championship was organized by the same league governing Serie A and Serie B (the "Direttorio Divisioni Superiori"), even if, as opposed to the two higher divisions, it was structured in local groups with geographical criteria. The number of clubs belonging to the Prima Divisione continued to increase every year, until FIGC decided to rename it as "Serie C" (at the beginning of the 1935-36 season) and then a big reduction in 1948 that created a sole national division in 1952-53.
The reform creating the actual league was decided by Bruno Zauli in 1959 when, because of the incomplete work started by the former president Ottorino Barassi, professional football was fully recognised and organised. While Lega Calcio had the mission of organising professional and national divisions, the new Lega Nazionale Semiprofessionisti based in Florence had to regulate the two semiprofessional and subnational divisions: Serie C and Serie D, with the first one adopting a format of three groups of 20 teams each. In 1978 the semiprofessional sector was abolished, Serie D became an amateur section, Serie C was divided into two professional divisions (Serie C1 and Serie C2), and the league changed its name to Lega Professionisti Serie C. On 20 June 2008 the league was restructured and took its current name Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico.
After the league reform of 2014, the two previous divisions of Lega Pro Prima Divisione and Lega Pro Seconda Divisione were ultimately merged into a unique one, called Lega Pro Divisione Unica and more informally addressed as just Lega Pro. The new league is composed by 60 teams, divided geographically in three groups of 20 each, and will promote four teams to Serie B (three group winners, plus one coming from a promotion playoff involving the three group runners-up), and nine relegations to Serie D: last-placed teams from each group will go down directly, whereas teams between 16th and 19th place will play a relegation playoff (officially referred to as play-out), with two losing teams of them per each group being relegated as well.
In May 2017, the Lega Pro assembly unanimously approved the return to the original name Serie C.
In order to encourage homegrown players, all Lega Pro clubs were capped to use 16 players that were older than 23 of age (in 2016–17 season, player born before 1 January 1994), plus two wildcard for long serving players of the clubs. The club could use an unlimited numbers of under-23 players.
Past champions in Serie C
Complete team list
This is the complete list of the clubs that took part in the 38 Serie C seasons played from 1935–36 to 1977–78 and in the 2016–17 Lega Pro season. The teams in bold compete in Lega Pro in the current season.
- 34 times: Lecce
- 32 times: Piacenza
- 30 times: Cosenza
- 29 times: Cremonese, Empoli, Prato, Salernitana, Treviso
- 28 times: Biellese, Rimini, Siracusa
- 26 times: Ancona, Legnano, Ravenna
- 25 times: Arezzo, Savona
- 24 times: Siena
- 23 times: Mantova, Mestrina, Sambenedettese
- 22 times: Chieti, Crotone, Lecco, Maceratese, Pistoiese
- 21 times: Casertana, Parma Trapani
- 20 times: Forlì, Grosseto, Pescara, Pro Patria, Reggina, Sanremese, Taranto
- 19 times: Ascoli, Casale, L'Aquila, Lucchese, Marzotto, Seregno, Spezia, Udinese
- 18 times: Carrarese, Foggia, Livorno, Pisa, Pro Vercelli
- 17 times: Barletta, Entella, Marsala, Potenza, Reggiana
- 16 times: Alessandria, Messina, Pavia, Torres, Varese, Venezia, Vigevano
- 15 times: Brindisi, Juve Stabia, Monfalcone, Monza, Perugia
- 14 times: Avellino, Benevento, Catanzaro, Pontedera, Savoia
- 13 times: Bolzano, Cesena, Como, Gallaratese, Massese, Padova, Rapallo, SPAL
- 12 times: Crema, Jesi, Pro Gorizia, Matera, Sestrese, Solbiatese, Trento, Vis Pesaro
- 11 times: Akragas, Asti, Carbosarda, Derthona, Fanfulla, Fano, Olbia, Pordenone, Ternana, Triestina
- 10 times: Acireale, Carpi, Catania, Montevarchi, Omegna, Signa, Teramo
- 9 times: Baracca Lugo, Cagliari, Molfetta, Ponziana, Rovigo, Trani, Vastese, Viareggio
- 8 times: Civitavecchia, Falck, Forlimpopoli, Giulianova, Grion Pola, Ilva Bagnolese, Piombino, Sangiovannese, Sorrento
- 7 times: Acqui, Audace, Bari, Bisceglie, Clodia Sottomarina, Fiumana, Imolese, Imperia, Ivrea, Nocerina, Novara, Saronno, Turris, Verbania
- 6 times: Ampelea, Belluno, Caratese, Cuneo, Gubbio, Latina, MATER, Pontedecimo, Ponte San Pietro, Rivarolese, Rovereto, Tevere Roma, Vittorio Veneto
- 5 times: Andrea Doria, Bassano Virtus, Cantù, Foligno, Frosinone, Juventus Domo, Modena, Paganese, Palazzolo, Pinerolo, Pro Lissone, Redaelli Rogoredo, Riccione, Rosignano Solvay, San Donà, Schio, Trevigliese, Vado, Vicenza, Viterbese
- 4 times: Alba Roma, Alfa Romeo, Battipagliese, Cavese, Cecina, Città di Castello, Colleferro, Edera Trieste, Fossanese, Fucecchio, Internapoli, Manfredonia, Martina Franca, Massiminiana, Monsummanese, Nardò, Nissa, Orbetello, Pirelli, Sant'Angelo, Saviglianese, SIAI Marchetti, Suzzara, Toma Maglie
- 3 times: Albenga, Aosta, Armando Casalini, Arsenale Venezia, Campobasso, Cerignola, Cirio, Civitanovese, FeralpiSalò, Fermana, Forte dei Marmi, Gerli, Giana Erminio, Igea Virtus, Juventus Siderno, Libertas Trieste, Lumezzane, Lupa Roma, Meda, Melfi, Molinella, Mortara, Palmese, Parabiago, Pieris, Pro Piacenza, Renate, Rieti, Santarcangelo, Scafatese, SIME Popoli, Südtirol, Tuttocuoio, Villasanta, Vogherese
- 2 times: Agrigento, Ala Littoria, Albese, AlbinoLeffe, Amatori Bologna, Breda, Bondenese, Cinzano, Codogno, Dipendenti Municipali La Spezia, Enna, FEDIT, Fidelis Andria, Galliate, Ischia Isolaverde, Lanciano, Luino, Magenta, Monopoli, Novese, Panigale, Pergocrema, Pietro Resta, Pro Italia, Racing Roma, Rizzoli, Sora, Sparta Novara, Tivoli, Varazze, Verona, VV.FF. Palermo, VV.FF. Roma
- 1 time: 94º Reparto Reggimento Distrettuale, Abbiategrasso, Alcamo, Andreanelli, Ardens, A.R.S.A., Aullese, Aversa Normanna, Avio Calcio, Avio Squadra, Aviosicula Palermo, Brescia, Budrio, Cantiere Tosi, Caproni, Centese, Centrale del Latte di Genova, Chinotto Neri, Cittadella, Corniglianese, Cossatese, Cynthia, FIAT Torino, Fortitudo Trieste, Gavinovese, Genoa, Giovinezza, Guastalla, Ilva Savona, Isotta Fraschini, Juve Pomigliano, Juventina Palermo, Lanciotto, Legnago, Luparense, Magazzini Generali, Marzotto Manerbio, Melzo, Mirandolese, Mogliano, Montebelluna, Palermo-Juventina, Pellizzari Arzignano, Pro Enna, Pro San Giorgio, Pro Sesto, Ragusa, Real Vicenza, R.S.T. Littorio, San Marino, Sebinia, Sestri Levante, Settimese, Tenente Mario Passamonte, Torviscosa, Ventimigliese, Vigor Lamezia, Villafranca, Virtus Francavilla, Vincenzo Benini, Virtus Spoleto, Vis Nova, Vittorio Necchi, Vibonese
- "Comunicato Ufficiale N°11/L (2016–17)" (PDF) (in Italian). Lega Pro. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.