|Number of teams||32|
|Level on pyramid||3 (4 from 2016)|
|Promotion to||Eerste Divisie (optional; until 2015)
Tweede Divisie (from 2016)
|Domestic cup(s)||KNVB Cup|
|Most championships||IJsselmeervogels, Achilles '29, Katwijk, Spakenburg and Lienden (1 each)|
Topklasse (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈtɔp.ˌklɑ.sə]) (English: Top Class) is the third tier of football in the Netherlands, which had its inaugural season in 2010–11. The league is placed between the Eerste Divisie and the Hoofdklasse, the second and fourth tiers of Dutch football, respectively. The introduction of the 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football; a professional football club could only drop to the amateur leagues if its licence for professional football was revoked, while an amateur football club could only be promoted after application and meeting a number of criteria.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. 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.
The new league structure was approved at an amateur clubs meeting on 6 June 2009. 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. At the end of the season, both clubs that finish at the top of their division play each other. The winner of that tie is promoted to the Eerste Divisie, replacing the team that finishes 18th. If the winner refuses promotion or is ineligible for promotion, the runners-up are promoted. If both teams refuse promotion, no promotion and relegation takes 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 federation 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.
From the 2015–16 season promotion to the new Tweede Klasse, to be placed between the Eerste Klasse and the Topklasse, will be implemented. Thus, the Topklasse and lower leagues will be incremented by one step in the pyramid.
Perception among amateur clubs
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." Because of these objections, promotion to the Eerste Divisie is not mandatory for the champion of the Topklasse. However, by 2016 promotion to the Tweede Divisie will be required.
Current teams (2015–16)
|BVV Barendrecht||Barendrecht||South Holland||Sportpark de Bongerd||3,000||Adrie Polderbaart||4th|
|VV Capelle||Capelle aan den IJssel||South Holland||Sportpark 't Slot||4,000||Ton van Bremen||8th|
|DVS'33||Ermelo||Gelderland||Sportlaan||1,500||Jan Veldhuizen||1st Hoofdklasse C|
|Excelsior Maassluis||Maassluis||South Holland||Sportpark Lavendelstraat||5,000||Jeroen Rijsdijk||10th|
|GVVV||Veenendaal||Utrecht||Sportpark Panhuis||4,000||Erik Assink||6th|
|HHC Hardenberg||Hardenberg||Overijssel||Sportpark De Boshoek||4,500||Marcel Groninger||3rd|
|IJsselmeervogels||Spakenburg||Utrecht||Sportpark De Westmaat||8,000||Frans Adelaar||5th|
|VV Katwijk||Katwijk||South Holland||Sportpark de Krom||6,000||Dirk Schreuder||1st Hoofdklasse B|
|Kozakken Boys||Werkendam||North Brabant||Sportpark De Zwaaier||2,500||Danny Buijs||Champions Saturday Topklasse|
|FC Lisse||Lisse||South Holland||Sportpark Ter Specke||5,000||Arjan van der Laan||11th|
|ONS Boso Sneek||Sneek||Friesland||Sportpark Zuidersportpark||950||Richard Karrenbelt||12th|
|Rijnsburgse Boys||Rijnsburg||South Holland||Sportpark Middelmors||6,100||Niek Oosterlee||7th|
|RVVH||Ridderkerk||South Holland||Sportpark Ridderkerk||3,000||Giovanni Franken||Playoffs winners|
|SVV Scheveningen||Scheveningen||South Holland||Sportpark Houtrust||3,500||John Blok||9th|
|SV Spakenburg||Spakenburg||Utrecht||Sportpark De Westmaat||8,000||Jochem Twisker||2nd|
|SteDoCo||Hoornaar||South Holland||Sportpark Stedoco||Virgil Breetveld||1st Hoofdklasse A|
|AFC||Amsterdam||North Holland||Sportpark Goed Genoeg||2,000||Stanley Menzo||10th|
|JVC Cuijk||Cuijk||North Brabant||Sportpark De Groenendijkse||3,000||Bart Logchies||5th|
|De Treffers||Groesbeek||Gelderland||Sportpark Zuid||4,000||Anton Janssen||4th|
|EVV||Echt||Limburg||Sportpark In de Bandert||2,000||Leo Beckers||7th|
|HBS Craeyenhout||The Hague||South Holland||Sportpark Daal en Bergselaan||1,000||André Wetzel||Playoffs winners|
|Hercules||Utrecht||Utrecht||Sportpark Voordorp||Eric Speelziek||12th|
|HSC '21||Haaksbergen||Overijssel||Sportpark Groot Scholtenhagen||4,500||Eddy Boerhof||11th|
|Koninklijke HFC||Haarlem||North Holland||Sportpark Spanjaardslaan||1,500||Pieter Mulder||6th|
|FC Lienden||Lienden||Gelderland||Sportpark De Abdijhof||2,400||Hans van de Haar||Champions Sunday Topklasse|
|Magreb'90||Utrecht||Utrecht||Sportpark Papendorp||Frans Schuitemaker||1st Hoofdklasse A|
|OJC Rosmalen||Rosmalen||North Brabant||Sportpark De Groote Wielen||Dennis Dekkers||9th|
|VV Sneek Wit Zwart||Sneek||Friesland||Sportpark Sneek Wit Zwart||4,500||Berry Zandink||1st Hoofdklasse C|
|TEC VV||Tiel||Gelderland||Sportpark De Lok||Frits van den Berk||1st Hoofdklasse B|
|VV UNA||Veldhoven||North Brabant||Sportpark Zeelst||3,000||Mark Schenning||2nd|
|VVSB||Noordwijkerhout||South Holland||Sportpark de Boekhorst||2,500||Wilfred van Leeuwen||3rd|
|WKE||Emmen||Drenthe||Sportpark Grote Geert||4,000||Paul Weerman||8th|
|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|
- "KNVB will topklasse in amateurvoetbal" (in Dutch). Voetbalprimeur.nl. 2007-06-09. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- Robert Missèt (2007-06-18). "‘Kesler heeft geen idee wat amateurvoetbal inhoudt’" (in Dutch). de Volkskrant. p. 17. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
- Erik Oudshoorn (1999-06-01). "Clubs eerste divisie dwarsbomen Topklasse" (in Dutch). NRC Handelsblad. p. 11. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
- "Topklasse in amateurvoetbal krijgt groen licht". Voetbalzone.
- "Plannen tweede divisie gaan door". NOS.nl (in Dutch). 2 December 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
- "Vanaf seizoen 2016/17: promotie/degradatie tussen amateurvoetbal en betaald voetbal". KNVB.nl (in Dutch). 2 December 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
- Topklasse.com - Latest news from and about the Topklasse. (Dutch)
- League321.com - Dutch football league tables, records & statistics database. (English)