Swiss Challenge League

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Challenge League
Challenge League.png
Founded1898 (as Swiss Serie B)[1]
1944 (as Nationalliga B)[2]
Country Switzerland (9 teams)
Other club(s) from Liechtenstein (1 team)
Number of teams10
Level on pyramid2
Promotion toSuper League
Relegation toPromotion League
Domestic cup(s)Swiss Cup
Current championsYverdon–Sport (2nd title)
Current: 2023–24 season

The Challenge League (known as the Dieci Challenge League for sponsorship reasons) is the second-highest tier of the Swiss football league system and lower of two professional leagues in the country.[3] Ten teams play in the Challenge League; the winners of the league are promoted to the Super League, while the bottom-placed team is relegated to the Promotion League.

2023–24 clubs[edit]

Team Foundation Hometown Venue Capacity
FC Aarau 26/05/1902 Switzerland Aarau Stadion Brügglifeld 8.000
FC Baden 1897 Switzerland Baden Esp Stadium 7,000
AC Bellinzona 1904 Switzerland Bellinzona Stadio Comunale 5,000
Neuchâtel Xamax FCS 1912 Switzerland Neuchâtel Stade de la Maladière 12.000
FC Schaffhausen 01/07/1896 Switzerland Schaffhausen LIPO Park Schaffhausen 8.085
FC Sion 1909 Sion Stade Tourbillon 14,283
FC Thun 04/05/1898 Switzerland Thun Stockhorn Arena 10.000
FC Vaduz 14/02/1932 Liechtenstein Vaduz Rheinpark Stadion 7.584
FC Wil 1900 1900 Switzerland Wil Sportpark Bergholz 6.010
FC Stade Nyonnais 1948 Switzerland Nyon Stade de Colovray 7,200

Promotion/relegation from 2022–23 season[edit]


Previous names
Years German French Italian
1898–1922 Serie B
1922–1930 Serie Promotion
1930–31 Zweite Liga 2e Ligue Seconda Lega
1931–1944 Erste Liga 1e Ligue Prima Lega
1944–2003 Nationalliga B Ligue Nationale B Lega Nazionale B
Challenge League
Dosenbach Challenge League Challenge League
dieci Challenge League

Serie B and Serie Promotion[edit]

The Serie B was first carried out in 1898.[1] In the year before, Genevan newspaper La Suisse Sportive organized the first inofficial Swiss Championship, where the Coupe Ruinart was awarded to Grasshopper Club Zürich. The first Serie B was competed for this same cup. The final game was held between Cantonal Lausanne, FC Bern, and Vereinigte St. Gallen, with Cantonal Lausanne beating first FC Bern 2-0 and then Vereinigte St. Gallen 3-2 to win the championship. In the 1900-01 season, Serie B winner Fortuna Basel were the first team to be promoted to the Serie A. In the following two seasons, the second teams of Grasshopper Club Zürich and FC Zürich won the Serie B and thus no teams were promoted. The Serie B was held under this name until 1922. However, records of these times are spotty at best.

In 1922, the league was renamed to Serie Promotion and was split into three regions East, West, and Central with each region further subdivided into two groups. The respective regional group winners played a final game and the three regional champions qualified for the final round. While SC Veltheim won the first Serie Promotion, all three participants of the final round were promoted to the Serie A. In the following seasons, regional Serie B champions played relegation/promotion playoffs against the last placed of the regional leagues in the Serie A. This format would persist until the 1929-30 season.

Starting in 1930, both Serie A and B were renamed to First and Second League, respectively, and in the season after the Second League become the First League (as the previous First League became known as the National League). These name changes came as a push to create the aforementioned National League, which no longer would be split into regional groups. This reorganization was finally realized for the 1933-34 season, however the First League maintained regional groups. The league was split into a western and eastern group, except in the 1939/40 season where five regional groups were created due to the World War.

National League B Era[edit]

Starting with the 1944-45 season, the National League B (NLB) was created. Fourteen teams, the top seven teams of both groups in the 1943-44 season, minus champions AC Bellinzona, plus the relegated FC Luzern, would participate in the inaugural season. Initially, the top two of the league were promoted, while the bottom two were relegated. In the 1976-77 season, the number of teams was increased to sixteen. After the number of teams was reverted in 1979, the number of teams was increased again in 1981. This incease was also mirrored by the National League A.

For the 1986-87 season, playoffs between the top four of the NLB and the bottom four of the NLA were played, with only two of them getting promoted, as the NLA would reduce the number of teams to twelve for the next season. At the same time the NLB was increased to 24 teams, split once again into two regional groups. Furthermore, the seasons were also split into two stages: a qualifying stage and promotion/relegation stage. During the promotion/relegation stage, the bottom four teams of the NLA would be joined by the top six of both groups. These sixteen teams were once again split into two groups and the top two of both groups would gain promotion to the NLA. For relegation, the bottom six teams of either group were shuffled into two groups, where the bottom two of both groups are relegated to the First League.

The number of teams in the NLB was reduced to 20 in 1993 and further reduced to 16 in 1994. Starting with the 1995-96 season, the NLB was once again reunited and slimmed down to twelve teams. The promotion/relegation and relegation playoffs would also no longer be split into two groups. Both playoffs would be played in a round-robin group with eight teams, with the top four promoted/remaining in the NLA and NLB, respectively. Bottom four would be relegated/remain in the NLB or First League, respectively.

Challenge League Era[edit]

At the beginning of the 20th century, further format changes to the top Swiss leagues were suggested. Starting with the 2003-04 season, the league was renamed to Challenge League. Unlike the top league, the Super League, the Challenge League did not have a title sponsor at first, until the 2008-09 season which was named the Dosenbach Challenge League. The league would again be without a title sponsor for the following four season. Between 2013 and 2021, it was named Challenge League and since the 2021-22 season it is called the dieci Challenge League.

The number of participants has fluctuated since the renaming of the league. Initially, the Challenge League had 17 participants, but in the following season it was increased to 18. To make the league more attractive to viewers, it was reduced again to 16 participants in 2008 and then further down to ten in 2012. This last reduction came as a result of the creation of the Promotion League. Similarly, the number of teams relegated and promoted to and from the former First League (later Promotion League) had also fluctuated. With the new Promotion League, it has been a simple 1-up 1-down promotion/relegation format between Challenge League and Promotion League.

Promotion to the Super League had also been restructured along with the name changes. The old promotion/relegation playoffs were scrapped and replaced with the simpler 1-up 1-down format. Between 2003 and 2012, the second placed team of the Challenge League would also play a two-legged promotion/relegation playoff against the second-to-last team of the Super League. This playoff was dropped in 2012 and later reintroduced for the 2018-19 season.


Nationalliga B Era[edit]

Season League Winner Promoted from playoffs/Promoted as runners up Teams Relegated
1960–61 FC Lugano FC Schaffhausen Neuchâtel Xamax
Nordstern Basel
1961–62 FC Chiasso FC Sion FC Martigny-Sports
FC Yverdon-Sports
1962–63 FC Schaffhausen Neuchâtel Xamax FC Bodio
FC Fribourg
1963–64 FC Lugano AC Bellinzona Etoile Carouge FC
FC Vevey-Sports 05
1964–65 Urania Genève Sport Young Fellows Zürich FC Bern
FC Schaffhausen
1965–66 FC Winterthur FC Moutier FC Porrentruy
Neuchâtel Xamax
1966–67 FC Luzern AC Bellinzona Le Locle-Sports
Blue Stars Zürich
1967–68 FC Winterthur FC St.Gallen FC Moutier
FC Bern
1968–69 FC Wettingen FC Fribourg FC Baden
FC Solothurn
1969–70 FC Sion FC Luzern FC Thun
FC Langenthal
1970–71 FC St.Gallen FC Grenchen Young Fellows Zürich
Urania Genève Sport
1971–72 FC Chiasso FC Fribourg FC Monthey
US Gambarogno
1972–73 Neuchâtel Xamax CS Chênois SC Brühl
SC Buochs
1973–74 FC Luzern FC Vevey-Sports 05 Young Fellows Zürich
FC Tössfeld
1974–75 FC Biel-Bienne FC La Chaux-de-Fonds FC Giubiasco
1975–76 AC Bellinzona - FC Martigny-Sports
FC Wettingen
1976–77 Étoile Carouge FC Young Fellows Zürich Mendrisiostar
FC Raron
1977–78 Nordstern Basel FC Chiasso FC Gossau
FC Bulle
1978–79 FC La Chaux-de-Fonds FC Luzern
FC Lugano
Étoile Carouge FC
Young Fellows Zürich
1979–80 AC Bellinzona Nordstern Basel FC Raron
FC Baden
1980–81 FC Vevey-Sports 05 FC Aarau
FC Bulle
SC Kriens
1981–82 FC Winterthur FC Wettingen Aurore Bienne
FC Altstätten
FC Frauenfeld
1982–83 FC La Chaux-de-Fonds FC Chiasso FC Bern
FC Ibach
FC Rüti ZH
1983–84 SC Zug FC Winterthur FC Fribourg
FC Nordstern Basel
FC Red Star Zürich
1984–85 FC Grenchen FC Baden Mendrisiostar
FC Yverdon-Sports
FC Monthey
1985–86 FC Locarno AC Bellinzona FC Zug
FC Laufen
Le Locle Sports
1986–87 FC Grenchen None SC Kriens
1987–88 Étoile Carouge FC (West)
FC Lugano (East)
FC Wettingen
FC Lugano
FC Solothurn
FC Vevey-Sports 05
FC Wangen bei Olten
1988–89 FC Yverdon-Sports (West)
FC Basel (East)
FC Zürich FC Biel-Bienne
Renens FC
1989–90 FC Fribourg (West)
FC Baden (East)
FC Zürich FC Brüttisellen
FC Martigny-Sports
FC Zug
1990–91 FC Yverdon-Sports (West)
FC Locarno (South & East)
None CS Chênois
SC Burgdorf
FC Montreux-Sports
1991–92 FC Basel (West)
FC Schaffhausen (South & East)
FC Chiasso ES Malley
SC Zug
FC Glarus
1992–93 FC Yverdon-Sports (West)
FC Luzern (East)
FC Luzern
SC Kriens
FC Yverdon-Sports
FC Wettingen
FC Châtel-St-Denis
FC Brüttisellen
SC Bümpliz
FC Emmenbrücke
FC Chur
FC La Chaux-de-Fonds
1993–94 Étoile Carouge FC (West)
FC Schaffhausen (East)
FC Basel
FC St. Gallen
BSC Old Boys
FC Bulle
Urania Genève Sport
FC Chiasso
FC Monthey
FC Sursee
FC Fribourg
1994-95 FC Yverdon-Sports (West)
SC Kriens (East)
None AC Bellinzona
FC Grenchen
1995–96 SC Kriens None FC Chiasso
FC Naters
1996–97 Étoile Carouge FC Étoile Carouge FC
SC Kriens
FC Gossau
FC Meyrin
1997–98 BSC Young Boys FC Lugano
BSC Young Boys
FC Winterthur
SV Schaffhausen
1998–99 FC Wil SR Delémont
FC Yverdon-Sports
FC Locarno
FC Chiasso
1999–2000 AC Bellinzona FC Sion Stade Nyonnais
FC Schaffhausen
2000–01 BSC Young Boys BSC Young Boys FC Wangen bei Olten
FC Solothurn
2001–02 FC Wil 1900 FC Wil 1900
FC Thun
FC Locarno
Étoile Carouge FC
2002–03 FC Vaduz None FC Lugano1
FC Lausanne-Sport1
FC Sion1

1 FC Lugano and FC Lausanne-Sport went bankrupt which meant that no team was relegated due to their league position. FC Sion were not awarded a license for the 2003–04 season resulted in an extra team being promoted.

Challenge League Era[edit]

The league statistics of the Challenge League era:[4][5]

Year 1st Position 2nd Position Playoff result Relegated Relegated
2003–04 Schaffhausen Vaduz Neuchâtel Xamax 2:0 Vaduz

Vaduz 2:1 Neuchâtel Xamax

Neuchâtel Xamax won 3:2 on aggregate

2004–05 Yverdon-Sport Vaduz Schaffhausen 1:1 Vaduz

Vaduz 0:1 Schaffhausen

Schaffhausen won 2:1 on aggregate

Baden[b] Bulle
2005–06 Luzern Sion Sion 0:0 Neuchâtel Xamax

Neuchâtel Xamax 0:3 Sion

Sion won 3:0 on aggregate

Baden Meyrin
2006–07 Neuchâtel Xamax Bellinzona Bellinzona 1:2 Aarau

Aarau 3:1 Bellinzona

Aarau won 5:2 on aggregate

Baulmes YF Juventus
2007–08 Vaduz Bellinzona Bellinzona 3:2 St. Gallen

St. Gallen 0:2 Bellinzona

Bellinzona won 5:2 on aggregate

2008–09 St. Gallen Lugano Lugano 1:0 Luzern

Luzern 5:0 Lugano

Luzern won 5:1 on aggregate

Locarno[d] Gossau[d]
2009–10 Thun Lugano Bellinzona 2:1 Lugano

Lugano 0:0 Bellinzona

Bellinzona won 2:1 on aggregate

Le Mont Gossau
2010–11 Lausanne Servette Bellinzona 1:0 Servette

Servette 3:1 Bellinzona

Servette won 3:2 on aggregate

Schaffhausen Yverdon
2011–12 St. Gallen Aarau Sion 3:0 Aarau

Aarau 1:0 Sion

Sion won 3:1 on aggregate

2012–13 Aarau Bellinzona Locarno[e]
2013–14 Vaduz Lugano Locarno
2014–15 Lugano Servette Biel/Bienne[f]
2015–16 Lausanne Wil Biel/Bienne[g]
2016–17 Zürich Neuchâtel Xamax Wil[h]
2017–18 Neuchâtel Xamax Schaffhausen Wohlen
2018–19 Servette Aarau Neuchâtel Xamax 0:4 Aarau

Aarau 0:4 (4:5 p) Neuchâtel Xamax

Xamax won after 4:4 on aggregate and 5:4 in penalty shootout.

2019–20 Lausanne Vaduz Vaduz 2:0 Thun

Thun 4:3 Vaduz

Vaduz won 5:4 on aggregate.

2020–21 Grasshoppers Thun Thun 1:4 Sion

Sion 2:3 Thun

Sion won 6:4 on aggregate.

2021–22 Winterthur Schaffhausen Schaffhausen 2-2 Luzern

Luzern 2-0 Schaffhausen

Luzern won 4:2 on aggregate.

2022–23[j] Yverdon Lausanne Promotion play-off
Sion 0–2 Lausanne-Ouchy

Lausanne-Ouchy 4–2 Sion

Lausanne-Ouchy wins 6–2 on aggregate

Relegation play-off
Rapperswil-Jona 1–3 Xamax

Xamax 3–0 Rapperswil-Jona

Xamax wins 6–1 on aggregate

  1. ^ Sion were admitted to the league on October 29, 2003, after the season had already begun which brought the number of teams in the division to 17.
    Only one club was relegated and two were promoted to extend the league to 18 clubs for the 2004–05 season.
  2. ^ Baden were not relegated due to Servette being demoted to 1. Liga because of financial difficulties.
  3. ^ a b Delémont and Kriens were also relegated due to the league being downsized to 16 teams for the 2008–09 season.
  4. ^ a b Locarno and Gossau were not relegated due to Concordia and La Chaux-de-Fonds being denied professional licenses.
  5. ^ Locarno were not relegated due to Bellinzona being stripped of their professional licenses during the season.
  6. ^ Biel/Bienne were not relegated due to Servette being denied professional licenses.
  7. ^ Biel/Bienne were stripped of their professional licenses during the season.
  8. ^ Wil were not relegated due to Le Mont relinquishing their professional licenses.
  9. ^ No team was relegated due to the cancellation of the Swiss Promotion League caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland.
  10. ^ Due to the format change and increased number of teams in the 2023–24 Swiss Super League, top two teams will be directly promoted and no teams will be relegated at the end of the season. Third placed and last-placed teams advance to a promotion and relegation play-offs, respectively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Swiss Serie B. RSSSF.
  2. ^ Swiss Football League – Nationalliga B. RSSSF.
  3. ^ "Live Sport und News". Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  4. ^ "Schweiz » Challenge League » Siegerliste" [Switzerland: Challenge League » List of champions] (in German). Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Schweiz » Challenge League 2015/2016 » 36. Spieltag" [Switzerland: Challenge League »2015–16] (in German). Retrieved 26 May 2016.

External links[edit]