J3 League

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J3 League
Full name J3 League
J3 リ ー グ
abbreviation J3
First edition 2014
hierarchy 3rd league
Teams 18th
region nationwideTemplate: Infobox football competition / maintenance / card format

The J3 League ( Japanese J3 リ ー グ , J3 Rīgu ) is the third division of the Japan Pro Soccer League ( 日本 プ ロ サ ッ カ ー リ ー グ , Nippon Puro Sakkā Rīgu ) and thus the third highest club soccer league in Japan .

In the league hierarchy it is in third place, behind the superordinate J. League Division 2 . She took over this place from the Japan Football League , which has been in fourth place since the 2014 season.


Before founding (until 2013)

The first attempts at a nationwide third division were made in 1992 as part of the restructuring of Japanese professional football. The Japan Soccer League , which moved into the second tier with the founding of the J. League , was renamed the Japan Football League and divided into two divisions of 10 teams each. In 1994, however, both divisions were merged again.

In connection with the introduction of the J. League Division 2 in 1999, a nationwide third division was re-established, which was also named Japan Football League . In contrast to its predecessor, it should act as the highest amateur division in Japan. Soon, however, the JFL served as a meeting point for many clubs that eventually wanted to join the J. League.

This point was initially addressed by the J. League with the introduction of the system of “extraordinary memberships” in 2006. Associations that apply for such membership must demonstrate a number of economic criteria in order to receive it. Only then is promotion to the J. League possible if the athlete is successful. By 2013, the number of clubs in the JFL that sought this professional status increased increasingly; so last 10 of the 18 members of the JFL were in possession of an extraordinary membership, and that although since the introduction of the system usually one to three teams per season made it to the J. League.

Foundation of the J3 League (2013)

Shortly before the end of the 2012 season, Japanese media reported for the first time about the planned introduction of a new professional league, which would initially include ten to twelve clubs and not have as strict licensing criteria as the J2 . On January 16, 2013, all J. League clubs agreed to introduce the league for the 2014 season; this decision was confirmed on February 26, 2013 by the J. League Council . Although it was originally planned as a league with ten teams, the strength of the new J3 was set to twelve teams in July 2013.

In order to be considered for the premiere season, clubs interested in participating either had to already have the status of extraordinary member or had to apply for membership by June 30, 2013. In the latter case, the J. League Council then checked whether the respective club met the requirements for participation. On November 19, the following eleven clubs were finally confirmed as participants in the J3 League 2014 (in brackets, the league membership in the 2013 season):

A U-22 selection team from the J1 and J2 clubs was added as the twelfth team. This team, which is made up of the best young players from the higher-class clubs, was founded with a view to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro .

Future plans (2014–)

It is planned that more clubs will be added to the league over time. Several criteria are required for successful admission:

  • Obtaining the so-called 100 Year Plan status , which is awarded on application as soon as certain basic conditions regarding infrastructure, organization and division of the club are met
  • Stadium with a capacity of at least 5,000 spectators, which meets the J3 requirements and has been approved by the league
  • Fulfillment of the other license criteria for the J3 League
  • Reaching place 1–4 at the end of a season of the Japan Football League , whereby the team in question must also be one of the top two of the 100 Year Plan status holders
  • Average attendance of at least 2,000 at home games, with evidence of significant efforts to achieve an average of at least 3,000
  • Annual sales of at least 150 million yen and no excessive debt

In the 2016 season, the following six clubs have 100 Year Plan status :

Teams 2020

team Location Stadion
Azul Claro Numazu Numazu Shizuoka Ashitaka Athletic Stadium
Blaublitz Akita Akita Soyu Stadium
Cerezo Osaka U23 Osaka Kincho Stadium
Fukushima United FC Fukushima Fukushima Azuma Stadium
Gainare Tottori Tottori Prefecture Tottori Bank Bird Stadium
Gamba Osaka U23 Suita Panasonic Stadium Suita
Expo '70 Commemorative Stadium
FC Gifu Gifu Nagaragawa Stadium
Imabari FC Imabari Arigato Service Yume Stadium
Iwate Grulla Morioka Morioka South Park Football Stadium
Kagoshima United FC Kagoshima Shiranami Stadium
Kamatamare Sanuki Takamatsu Pikara Stadium
Kataller Toyama Toyama Toyama Stadium
Fujieda MYFC Fujieda Fujieda Sports Complex Park
AC Nagano Parceiro Nagano Minami-Nagano Sports Park Stadium
Roasso Kumamoto Kumamoto Prefecture Egao Kenkō Stadium
SC Sagamihara Sagamihara Sagamihara Gion Stadium
Vanraure Hachinohe Hachinohe PRI Foods Stadium
YSCC Yokohama Yokohama NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Football Stadium

Master history

season master Runner-up 3rd place
2014 Branches of Kanazawa AC Nagano Parceiro FC Machida Zelvia
2015 Renofa Yamaguchi FC FC Machida Zelvia AC Nagano Parceiro
2016 Ōita Trinita Tochigi SC AC Nagano Parceiro
2017 Blaublitz Akita Tochigi SC Azul Claro Numazu
2018 FC Ryūkyū Kagoshima United FC Gainare Tottori
2019 Giravanz Kitakyushu Thespakusatsu Gunma Fujieda MYFC

Position in the Japanese football pyramid

Stages) League / Division
I. J. League Division 1 (J1)
18 clubs
II J. League Division 2 (J2)
22 clubs
III J3 League
19 clubs
IV Japan Football League
16 clubs
V / VI 9 regional
leagues 134 clubs
VII + 46 prefecture
leagues & 4 block leagues on Hokkaidō

many clubs

The J3 League was launched for two reasons. The leap that a club from the Japan Football League had to make into paid football grew higher and higher as the number of clubs in J. League Division 2 increased, which meant that the newcomers often needed a certain amount of time before they were able to gain a foothold in the unfamiliar environment. On the other hand, the relay strength of 22 teams, which is regarded as optimal for the J2, was reached in 2012, which meant that the league could not accept any new professional teams for the time being. Therefore, an extension of the professional area by an additional level with correspondingly lower license requirements was the logical consequence.

The exchange between the J3 League and the Japan Football League is currently only from the bottom up, i.e. H. a descent from J3 to JFL is not possible. In the opposite case, a club wishing to be promoted must complete a JFL season among the first four teams in order to qualify for the J3. In addition, the so-called 100 year plan status is required, which is only granted by the league if the necessary economic and organizational basic conditions are met. If more than two teams with this status are among the top four teams at the end of a season, only the two best of these clubs will be promoted.

Between the J. League Division 2 and the J3 League, however, a fixed relegation mode was established. Normally, the last placed J2 descends directly into J3 and is replaced by their champions, the penultimate J2 plays playoff games against the runner-up J3. If one of the two top J3 clubs in a season does not have a second division license, there will be no substitutes, and the exchange between the two leagues will be reduced accordingly. If the J3 champion does not have a J2 license, the runner-up will play his playoff games against the bottom of the J2 table. If the runner-up does not have a J2 license, only the master moves up directly; if both clubs have no second division license, there will be no relegation from J2.

League format (since 2014)

In the first two years, twelve or thirteen clubs played against each other three times. For the 2016 season, the J. League U-22 selection, which only played away games, was removed from play; instead, three U23 teams from clubs from the higher leagues are now regularly playing for points.

The 16 J3 clubs currently play against each other twice, making a total of 30 games per team. A team receives three points for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. The placement is based on points. If the number of points is equal, the ranking will be decided in the following order:

  • Goal difference
  • Shot goals
  • Results in the duels
  • Fair play comparison

Only clubs that have a second division license and that occupy one of the first two places at the end of the season are eligible for promotion to the J. League Division 2 . The champion rises directly, the runner-up plays relegation games against the penultimate of the J2.

Since the number of teams is to be continuously increased over time, there is currently no relegation to the Japan Football League.

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