|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||57|
|Level on pyramid||3|
|Promotion to||Serie B|
|Relegation to||Serie D|
|Domestic cup(s)||Supercoppa di Serie C|
|League cup(s)||Coppa Italia
Coppa Italia Serie C
|International cup(s)||UEFA Europa League
(via winning Coppa Italia)
|Current champions||Cremonese (Group A)
Venezia (Group B)
Foggia (Group C)
|Most championships||Cremonese (6 titles)|
|TV partners||Rai Sport 1|
|2017–18 Serie C|
Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico (Lega Pro) is the governing body that runs Serie C, the 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 Divisione Unica (often also abbreviated as Lega Pro) in 2014 reintroduced the format of the original Serie C that existed between 1935 and 1978 (before the split into Serie C1 and Serie C2). On 25 May 2017 the Lega Pro assembly unanimously approved the return to the original name of the competition to 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 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). These leagues did not last long; after another reform they were disbanded between 1930 and 1931. Some bigger clubs who owned 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 to regional leagues as most were reelected at the beginning of each new season. Once a critical threshold 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 more efficient and organised regional staff.
The most successful 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) while a subsequent large reduction in 1948 led to the creation of a sole national division in 1952-53.
The reform that created the actual league was decided by Bruno Zauli in 1959 as he build on the incomplete work started by the former president Ottorino Barassi to make professional football fully recognised and organised. While Lega Calcio had a stated 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 while 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 new league; the Lega Pro Divisione Unica or more informally addressed as just Lega Pro. This is the league structure currently in operation; comprising 60 teams that are divided geographically in three groups of 20 each. At the end of each season four teams are promoted to Serie B (three group winners, plus one coming from a promotion playoff involving the three group runners-up), and nine are relegated to Serie D: last-placed teams from each group go down directly, whereas teams between 16th and 19th place play a relegation playoff (officially referred to as play-out), with the two losing teams from each group also relegated.
In May 2017, the Lega Pro assembly unanimously approved the return to the original name Serie C. The 2017–18 Serie C season includes 19 teams in each of the three divisions after adjustments were made for excluded clubs.
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, the three Lega Pro seasons played from 2014–15 to 2016–17, and the 2017–18 Serie C season. The teams in bold compete in Serie C in the current season.
- 35 times: Lecce
- 33 times: Piacenza
- 31 times: Cosenza
- 30 times: Prato
- 29 times: Cremonese, Empoli, Salernitana, Siracusa, Treviso
- 28 times: Biellese, Rimini
- 27 times : Ravenna
- 26 times: Ancona, Arezzo, Legnano
- 25 times: Savona, Siena
- 24 times: Mestre, Sambenedettese
- 23 times: Mantova, Pistoiese
- 22 times: Casertana, Chieti, Crotone, Lecco, Maceratese, Trapani
- 21 times: Parma, Reggina
- 20 times: Forlì, Grosseto, Lucchese, Pescara, Pro Patria, Sanremese, Taranto
- 19 times: Ascoli, Carrarese, Casale, L'Aquila, Livorno, Marzotto, Pisa, Seregno, Spezia, Udinese
- 18 times: Foggia, Pro Vercelli, Reggiana
- 17 times: Alessandria, Barletta, Entella, Marsala, Potenza
- 16 times: Juve Stabia, Messina, Monza, Pavia, Torres, Varese, Venezia, Vigevano
- 15 times: Brindisi, Catanzaro, Monfalcone, Perugia, Pontedera
- 14 times: Avellino, Benevento, Padova, Savoia
- 13 times: Bolzano, Cesena, Como, Gallaratese, Massese, Matera, Rapallo, SPAL
- 12 times: Akragas, Crema, Jesi, Fano, Olbia, Pordenone, Pro Gorizia, Sestrese, Solbiatese, Trento, Triestina, Vis Pesaro
- 11 times: Asti, Carbosarda, Catania, Derthona, Fanfulla, Teramo, Ternana
- 10 times: Acireale, Carpi, Montevarchi, Omegna, Signa,
- 9 times: Baracca Lugo, Cagliari, Molfetta, Ponziana, Rovigo, Trani, Vastese, Viareggio
- 8 times: Bisceglie, Civitavecchia, Falck, Forlimpopoli, Giulianova, Grion Pola, Ilva Bagnolese, Piombino, Sangiovannese, Sorrento
- 7 times: Acqui, Audace, Bari, Clodia Sottomarina, Cuneo, Fiumana, Gubbio, Imolese, Imperia, Ivrea, Nocerina, Novara, Saronno, Turris, Verbania
- 6 times: Ampelea, Bassano Virtus, Belluno, Caratese, Latina, MATER, Modena, Paganese, Pontedecimo, Ponte San Pietro, Rivarolese, Rovereto, Tevere Roma, Vittorio Veneto, Vicenza, Viterbese
- 5 times: Andrea Doria, Cantù, Foligno, Frosinone, Juventus Domo, Palazzolo, Pinerolo, Pro Lissone, Redaelli Rogoredo, Riccione, Rosignano Solvay, San Donà, Schio, Trevigliese, Vado
- 4 times: Alba Roma, AlbinoLeffe, Alfa Romeo, Battipagliese, Cavese, Cecina, Città di Castello, Colleferro, Edera Trieste, FeralpiSalò, Fermana, Fossanese, Fucecchio, Giana Erminio, Pro Piacenza, Internapoli, Manfredonia, Martina Franca, Massiminiana, Monsummanese, Nardò, Nissa, Orbetello, Pirelli, Renate, Sant'Angelo, Santarcangelo, Saviglianese, SIAI Marchetti, Südtirol, Suzzara, Toma Maglie
- 3 times: Albenga, Aosta, Armando Casalini, Arsenale Venezia, Campobasso, Cerignola, Cirio, Civitanovese, Fidelis Andria, Forte dei Marmi, Gerli, Igea Virtus, Juventus Siderno, Libertas Trieste, Lumezzane, Lupa Roma, Meda, Melfi, Molinella, Monopoli, Mortara, Palmese, Parabiago, Pieris, Rieti, Scafatese, SIME Popoli, Tuttocuoio, Villasanta, Vogherese
- 2 times: Agrigento, Ala Littoria, Albese, Amatori Bologna, Breda, Bondenese, Cinzano, Codogno, Dipendenti Municipali La Spezia, Enna, FEDIT, Fondi, Galliate, Ischia Isolaverde, Lanciano, Luino, Magenta, Novese, Panigale, Pergocrema, Pietro Resta, Pro Italia, Racing Roma, Rizzoli, Sora, Sparta Novara, Tivoli, Varazze, Verona, Virtus Francavilla, VV.FF. Palermo, VV.FF. Roma
- 1 time: 94º Reparto Reggimento Distrettuale, Abbiategrasso, Alcamo, Andreanelli, Ardens, A.R.S.A., Arzachena, 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, Gavorrano, 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, Sicula Leonzio, Tenente Mario Passamonte, Torviscosa, Ventimigliese, Vigor Lamezia, Villafranca, Vincenzo Benini, Virtus Spoleto, Vis Nova, Vittorio Necchi, Vibonese
- "Serie C, Rende ripescato: girone con 19 squadre" (in Italian). FIGC. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
- "Comunicato Ufficiale N°11/L (2016–17)" (PDF) (in Italian). Lega Pro. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.