Reserve teams in Norwegian football
Reserve teams in Norwegian association football play in the ordinary league system. They are always attached to their first teams with a "2" suffix, must play in a lower league than the first team, and cannot play in the Eliteserien or First Division. Furthermore, if a club's first team plays in the First Division, the reserves team cannot play in the Second Division either.
If a reserve team ends up at a promotion spot when it is not allowed to be promoted, the promotion is awarded to best following team in the league standings which is allowed to be promoted. Also, a reserve team is forcefully relegated, regardless of the final league position, if it is no longer qualified for playing at that level - i.e. if the first team is relegated to a league level where the reserve team's level is no longer allowed. For example, if a Eliteserien team is relegated while its reserve team in Second Division ends up at a secure place (or even a promotion spot), the reserve team is forcefully relegated to Third Division. In such a situation, the best placed qualified team at a relegation position in the league that the reserve team is relegated from will keep its place. If there are no qualified teams at relegation positions (e.g. only reserve teams no longer qualified for the level), one extra team from the division below (the best placed qualified one) is promoted.
Reserve teams have in general been criticized for fielding uneven teams from week to week, with many first-team players one week and more youth players the next. They have also been criticized for keeping smaller clubs out of the Second Division, meaning a more centralized football culture. In 2009 manager Ivar Morten Normark proposed to throw the reserve teams out of the ordinary league pyramid, and other managers like Dag Eilev Fagermo agreed. In a survey, 19 of 31 responding Second Division clubs wanted the reserve teams out, as did 30 of the 49 responding Third Division clubs.
At the 2010 congress of the Football Association of Norway, new rules were agreed to. From 2010, reserve teams in the Second Division can only field three players over the age of 21 at any time. More "overage" players can sit on the bench, but cannot enter the field unless substituted with another overage player.
From time to time, a reserves team wins its group in the Second Division. This is the highest sporting position a reserves team can achieve, since promotion is impossible. In the 1991 Second Division, Brann's reserve team won group 4—ahead of Fyllingen's reserve team. Also in the 1991 Second Division, Rosenborg's reserve team won group 5. Rosenborg 2 won again in the 1996 Second Division, and the same team won group 7 in the 1998 Second Division. In the 1992 Norwegian Second Division, Lillestrøm's reserve team won group 1. In the 2005 Second Division, Viking's reserve team won group 3.
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