Derde Divisie

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Derde Divisie
Country Netherlands
Confederation UEFA
Founded 2010 as Topklasse
Divisions 2
Number of teams 36
Level on pyramid 4
Promotion to Tweede Divisie
Relegation to Hoofdklasse
Domestic cup(s) KNVB Cup
Current champions Excelsior Maassluis
Most championships IJsselmeervogels, Achilles '29, Katwijk, Spakenburg, Lienden and Excelsior Maassluis (1 each)
2016–17 Derde Divisie

The Derde Divisie (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdɛrdə diˈvizi]; English: Third Division), formerly known as Topklasse (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈtɔpklɑsə]; English: Top Class), is the fourth tier of football in the Netherlands, which had its inaugural season as a third tier in 2010–11 and as a fourth tier in 2016–17. The league is placed between the Tweede Divisie and the Hoofdklasse, the third and fifth tiers of Dutch football, respectively.[1] The introduction of the then Topklasse resulted from discussions between the Royal Dutch Football Association, the Coöperatie Eerste Divisie (the clubs in the Eerste Divisie) and the Centraal Overleg Hoofdklassers (the clubs in the Hoofdklasse).


A national football competition in the Netherlands was established in 1956. Prior to that, the districts of the Dutch football association held their own competitions, and the champions of these competitions faced each other for the national title. The highest national division in the new league structure became the Eredivisie, followed by the Eerste Divisie and the Tweede Divisie. The Tweede Divisie was disbanded in 1971; six clubs were promoted to the Eerste Divisie (champions De Volewijckers along with FC Eindhoven, VVV, Fortuna Vlaardingen, PEC and Roda JC), while the remaining ten clubs became amateur clubs. The Eerste Divisie subsequently became the lowest league in professional football in the Netherlands.

The amateur football clubs had a separate league system, the highest league of which was the Eerste Klasse (later: Hoofdklasse). There was no promotion and relegation between professional football and amateur football; a professional football club could only drop to the amateur leagues if its licence for professional football was revoked, while an amateur football club could only be promoted after application and meeting a number of criteria.

The calls for a Topklasse largely stemmed from the professionalization of amateur football clubs in the Netherlands in recent years, in the sense that many Hoofdklasse club players now receive a salary.[2] This has closed the gap between the top of the Hoofdklasse and the bottom of the Eerste Divisie. Chairman of the Dutch football association Henk Kesler had therefore repeatedly called for the creation of the Topklasse to establish promotion and relegation between professional and amateur football, creating a league pyramid akin to the English football league system.

The first plans for a Topklasse were rejected by the Eerste Divisie clubs in 1999.[3]

Confirmed structure[edit]

Former Topklasse logo.

The new league structure was approved at an amateur clubs meeting on 6 June 2009.[4] The KNVB introduced the new level for the 2010–11 season, comprising 32 clubs. After the 2009–10 season, the bottom 2 teams in the Eerste Divisie, whose size was reduced from 20 to 18 clubs, and the top four clubs from each of the six Hoofdklasse divisions – a total of 26 clubs – automatically joined the new level. These clubs were joined by six playoff winners from a pool of 12 clubs that finished in 5th or 6th place in their group within the Hoofdklasse.

The 32 clubs within the Topklasse were divided into two leagues comprising 16 clubs. One league is a "Saturday" league and the other a "Sunday" league, a setup that is still in place. At the end of the season, both clubs that finished at the top of their division play each other. The winner of that tie was promoted to the Eerste Divisie, replacing the team that finished 18th. If the winner refused promotion or was ineligible for promotion, the runners-up were promoted. If both teams refused promotion, no promotion and relegation took place between the Eerste Divisie and Topklasse.

In January 2010, the exclusion of bankrupt HFC Haarlem from the Eerste Divisie reduced the number of scheduled relegations to one only, and led the KNVB to announce that this vacancy would be filled by an additional Hoofdklasse club. On May 12, 2010 it was announced that BV Veendam had declared bankruptcy, possibly giving (otherwise relegated) FC Oss a chance to stay in the Eerste Divisie, with the extra slot filled by another Hoofdklasse club. Veendam's bankruptcy was then reversed on appeal, thus confirming FC Oss' relegation into the Topklasse.

After the 2015–16 season promotion to the reintroduced Tweede Divisie, placed between the Eerste Divisie and the Topklasse, renamed Derde Divisie, was implemented. Thus, the Derde Divisie and lower leagues were decremented by one step in the pyramid, with the latter expanding to 36 clubs, 18 in each division.[1][5] The division winners are promoted and no longer compete for the amateur championship which was made redundant.[6]

Reforms from the 2016–17 season[edit]

There were several reforms from the 2016–17 season. The league was reformed as follows:

Situation until the 2015–16 season Situation from the 2016–17 season
The name of the league was Topklasse. The name of the league is Derde Divisie (English: Third Division)
Promotion to the Eerste Divisie was optional. Promotion to the Tweede Divisie is mandatory.
There were no reserve teams in the league. Two reserve teams of professional clubs, determined by a ranking, gained entry.

A proposal to split the two divisions determined by region and not by playing date has been rejected.[7]

Perception among amateur clubs[edit]

IJsselmeervogels, one of the most successful amateur football clubs in the Netherlands, was a strong opponent of the plans; chief Arian van de Vuurst has stated that "professional football does not fit in with our culture."[2] Because of these objections, promotion to the Eerste Divisie was not mandatory for the champion of the former Topklasse. After 2016, however, promotion to the Tweede Divisie is required.

Current teams (2016–17)[edit]

Saturday League[edit]

Club City Stadium Capacity Manager 2015/16
ASWH Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht Sportpark Schildman 3,000 Jack van den Berg 3rd Hoofdklasse B
VV Capelle Capelle aan den IJssel Sportpark 't Slot 4,000 Ton van Bremen 11th
DVS'33 Ermelo Sportlaan 1,500 Jan Veldhuizen 9th
Harkemase Boys Harkema Sportpark De Bosk Jan Vlap 1st Hoofdklasse C
SV Huizen Huizen Sportpark De Wolfskamer Henk van de Pol 2nd Hoofdklasse A
IJsselmeervogels Spakenburg Sportpark De Westmaat 8,000 Frans Adelaar 12th
Jong Almere City FC Almere Yanmar Stadion 3,200 7th Beloften Eredivisie
Jong FC Groningen Groningen Alfons Arts 5th Beloften Eredivisie
Jong FC Volendam Volendam Kras Stadion 7,200 8th Beloften Eredivisie
FC Lisse Lisse Sportpark Ter Specke 5,000 Arjan van der Laan 15th (Playoff winners)
ODIN '59 Heemskerk Sportpark Assumburg Richard Plug 1st Hoofdklasse A
ONS Boso Sneek Sneek Sportpark Zuidersportpark 950 Richard Karrenbelt 10th
Quick Boys Katwijk Sportpark Nieuw Zuid 8,500 Jan Zoutman 1st Hoofdklasse B
Rijnsburgse Boys Rijnsburg Sportpark Middelmors 6,100 Niek Oosterlee 8th
FC Rijnvogels Katwijk Sportpark De Kooltuin 3,000 Hein van Heek 4th Hoofdklasse B
SVV Scheveningen Scheveningen Sportpark Houtrust 3,500 John Blok 13th
SteDoCo Hoornaar Sportpark Stedoco Virgil Breetveld 14th
VVOG Harderwijk Sportpark De Strokel 10,000 Ed Engelkes 2nd Hoofdklasse C

Sunday League[edit]

Club City Stadium Capacity Manager 2015/16
JVC Cuijk Cuijk Sportpark De Groenendijkse 3,000 Ruud Kaiser 9th
Be Quick 1887 Groesbeek Sportpark Zuid 4,000 Mischa Visser 2nd Hoofdklasse C
EVV Echt Sportpark In de Bandert 2,000 Leo Beckers 11th
HBS Craeyenhout The Hague Sportpark Daal en Bergselaan 1,000 André Wetzel 12th
ASV De Dijk Amsterdam Sportpark Schellingwoude 1,500 Jochem Twisker 2nd Hoofdklasse A
VV Dongen Dongen Sportpark De Biezen 1,800 Ron Timmers 1st Hoofdklasse B
Hercules Utrecht Sportpark Voordorp 800 Eric Speelziek 10th
HSC '21 Haaksbergen Sportpark Groot Scholtenhagen 4,500 Eddy Boerhof 8th
Jong Achilles '29 Groesbeek Sportpark De Heikant 4,500 Dennis Krijgsman 11th Beloften Eredivisie
Jong De Graafschap Doetinchem Sportpark Varsselder 1,500 Jochem Twisker 9th Beloften Eredivisie
Jong FC Den Bosch 's-Hertogenbosch Stadion De Vliert 8,500 Arnold Scholten 10th Beloften Eredivisie
(as Brabant United)
Juliana '31 Malden Sportpark De Broeklanden 1,500 Arnold Brehler 1st Hoofdklasse C
Magreb'90 Utrecht Sportpark Papendorp 1,000 Alami Ahannach 13th
OFC Oostzaan Sportpark OFC 1,500 Imdat Ilguy 4th Hoofdklasse A
OJC Rosmalen Rosmalen Sportpark De Groote Wielen 3,000 Dennis Dekkers 14th
Quick '20 Oldenzaal Vondersweijders 7,000 Rob Sneijders 3rd Hoofdklasse C
UDI '19 Uden Sportpark Parkzicht 5,000 4th Hoofdklasse B
(Playoff winners)
RKVV Westlandia Naaldwijk Sportpark De Hoge Bomen 2,000 Edwin Grünholz 1st Hoofdklasse A


Season Saturday champions Sunday champions Overall champions Promotion
2010–11 IJsselmeervogels FC Oss IJsselmeervogels FC Oss
2011–12 Spakenburg Achilles '29 Achilles '29 None
2012–13 Katwijk Achilles '29 Katwijk Achilles '29
2013–14 Spakenburg AFC Spakenburg None
2014–15 Kozakken Boys FC Lienden FC Lienden None
2015–16 Excelsior Maassluis FC Lienden Excelsior Maassluis 14 clubs
Derde Divisie
Season Saturday champions Sunday champions Promotion
2016–17 TBD TBD TBD


  1. ^ a b "Plannen tweede divisie gaan door". (in Dutch). 2014-12-02. Retrieved 2015-07-16. 
  2. ^ a b Robert Missèt (2007-06-18). "'Kesler heeft geen idee wat amateurvoetbal inhoudt'" (in Dutch). de Volkskrant. p. 17. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  3. ^ Erik Oudshoorn (1999-06-01). "Clubs eerste divisie dwarsbomen Topklasse" (in Dutch). NRC Handelsblad. p. 11. Retrieved 2007-11-15. 
  4. ^ "Topklasse in amateurvoetbal krijgt groen licht". Voetbalzone. 2009-06-06. 
  5. ^ "Vanaf seizoen 2016/17: promotie/degradatie tussen amateurvoetbal en betaald voetbal". (in Dutch). 2014-12-02. Retrieved 2015-07-16. 
  6. ^ "Last amateur championship". (in Dutch). 19 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "Topklasse gaat volgend seizoen verder als Derde Divisie". (in Dutch). 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 

External links[edit]