Japan Football League

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Japan Football League
Full name Japan Football League
Japanese 日本 フ ッ ト ボ ー ル リ ー グ
abbreviation JFL
Association Japan Football Association
First edition 1999
Teams 16
master Honda FC (2018)
Record champions Honda FC (8)
Record player JapanJapanMasayuki Ishii (280)
Record scorer JapanJapanJun'ya Nitta (132)
Website www.jfl.co.jp
↓ Several regional leagues

The Japan Football League ( Japanese 日本 フ ッ ト ボ ー ル リ ー グ , Nihon Futtobōru Līgu ) is a Japanese football league. After the three professional leagues of the J. League , it is classified on the fourth level of the Japanese league pyramid and officially functions as the top amateur league. Despite the name, their structures are to be regarded as semi-professional , especially due to their character as a transition division for clubs that are interested in professional football in the medium term .


A league called the Japan Football League had existed in Japan since 1992 , which, after the J. League was founded at the same time, acted as the second tier of the Japanese league pyramid. With the renewed structural reform in 1999, nine teams of the old league rose to the newly founded J. League Division 2 , while the remaining seven joined a new division at the third level.

Originally, the newly founded league was to include a total of eight teams, as the champions of the national regional league final round , Yokogawa Denki FC , were added to the seven old JFL participants . Due to the merger of the two J. League clubs Yokohama Marinos and Yokohama Flügels , however, the then newly founded Yokohama FC was also subsequently admitted to the JFL. The following nine teams are therefore considered to be founding members:

In the following two seasons, the league's field of participants was continuously expanded to initially twelve and then to the originally planned sixteen clubs. As early as 2002, however, the league had to be expanded to eighteen clubs for one season, as the promotion places were all taken by company teams and therefore no promotion took place at the end of the 2001 season. Only at the end of the 2004 season did two teams leave the league for the first time after a three-year break with insgesamttsuka Pharmaceuticals and Thespa Kusatsu in the direction of the J. League.

For the 2006 season, the number of participants increased again to eighteen teams, which was largely retained until 2013. Only the 2012 season was contested by only seventeen teams, as Arte Takasaki had to leave the league at short notice due to financial difficulties.

Before the 2014 season, major changes were made due to a further restructuring of the professional area. Ten of the previous participants became new members of the J. League; the runner-up of the 2013 season, Kamatamare Sanuki rose to the J2, while the remaining nine teams were included in the newly formed J3 League . This new professional league took over the third position in the league hierarchy from the JFL, which thus fell back to the fourth level. The remaining eight clubs were supplemented by six newcomers from the regional leagues, so the 2014 season was played with fourteen clubs. In addition, the game mode was switched to a system similar to that of the Apertura and Clausura in Latin American football. The first and second round are rated separately, the winners of the two half-series play after the second half of the season in a two-way round for the championship title. If one team wins both halves, these games are canceled.

For 2015 the number of teams was increased again to sixteen.

In general, works teams as well as autonomous clubs and their reserve teams can be admitted to the JFL, but only first teams from autonomous clubs are eligible for promotion to the J3 League with the appropriate athletic and economic qualifications. By 2010, university teams could also be proposed for membership by the Japan University Football Association, which then had to qualify through play-off games against lower-ranked JFL clubs.

Season (2019)


Hometowns of the clubs of the Japan Football League 2019
Mie Prefecture: 1– Kuwana , 2– Suzuka
Miyazaki: Honda Lock SC , Tegevajaro Miyazaki
society Year of joining Located in comment
Honda FC 1999 Hamamatsu , Shizuoka
Honda Lock SC 2005 Miyazaki , Miyazaki
Imabari FC 2017 Imabari , Ehime J. League Centennial Plan Club
Maruyasu Okazaki FC 2014 Okazaki , Aichi
Matsue City FC 2019 Matsue , Shimane Promoted from the Chūgoku Soccer League 2018
Mio Bivouac Shiga 2008 Kusatsu , Shiga
Nara Club 2015 Nara , Nara J. League Centennial Plan Club
Osaka FC 2015 Higashiōsaka , Osaka
ReinMeer Aomori FC 2016 Aomori , Aomori
Ryūtsū Keizai Dragons Ryūgasaki 2015 Ryūgasaki , Ibaraki
Sony Sendai FC 1999 Tagajō , Miyagi
Suzuka Unlimited FC 2019 Suzuka , Mie Promoted from the Tōkai - Regional
Tegevajaro Miyazaki 2018 Miyazaki, Miyazaki
Tokyo Musashino City FC 1999 Musashino , Tokyo J. League Centennial Plan Club
Veertien Mie 2017 Kuwana , Mie
Forgive Ōita 2012 Yufu , Ōita

Promotion to the J. League

To be promoted to the professional leagues, clubs must meet the following criteria:

  • Holders of 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 the season, 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

These conditions have essentially existed since the 2012 season and were only adjusted in terms of the necessary athletic qualifications with the introduction of the J3 League in 2014. Previously, a final placement as first or second was necessary, with only the champions being promoted directly and the second placed relegation games with a member of the J. League Division 2 , a placement in the top four is now sufficient.


season winner 2nd place 3rd place 4th Place
1999 Yokohama FC Honda FC Mito HollyHock DENSO FC
2000 Yokohama FC Honda FC FC Kariya Ōtsuka Pharmaceutical FC
2001 Honda FC Ōtsuka Pharmaceutical FC Jatco FC Sagawa Express Tokyo SC
2002 Honda FC Sagawa Express Tokyo SC Ōtsuka Pharmaceutical FC Sony Sendai FC
2003 Ōtsuka Pharmaceutical FC Honda FC Ehime FC Sagawa Express Osaka SC
2004 Ōtsuka Pharmaceutical FC Honda FC Thespa Kusatsu YKK AP SC
2005 Ehime FC YKK AP SC ALO's Hokuriku Tochigi SC
2006 Honda FC Sagawa Express Tokyo SC Sagawa Express Osaka SC YKK AP SC
2007 Sagawa Shiga FC Rosso Kumamoto FC Gifu ALO's Hokuriku
2008 Honda FC Sagawa Shiga FC Tochigi SC Fagiano Okayama
2009 Sagawa Shiga FC Yokogawa Musashino FC Sony Sendai FC Giravanz Kitakyushu
2010 Gainare Tottori Sagawa Shiga FC FC Machida Zelvia Honda FC
2011 Sagawa Shiga FC AC Nagano Parceiro FC Machida Zelvia Matsumoto Yamaga FC
2012 V-Varen Nagasaki AC Nagano Parceiro Sagawa Shiga FC Kamatamare Sanuki
2013 AC Nagano Parceiro Kamatamare Sanuki SC Sagamihara FC Machida Zelvia
Additional promoters in the J3 League : Blaublitz Akita , Zweigen Kanazawa , Yokohama SCC , FC Ryūkyū , Fukushima United FC , Fujieda MYFC
2014 Honda FC SP Kyōto FC Kagoshima United FC Renofa Yamaguchi FC
2015 Sony Sendai FC Vanraure Hachinohe Honda FC Kagoshima United FC
2016 Honda FC Ryūtsū Keizai Dragons Ryūgasaki azul claro Numazu Honda Lock SC
2017 Honda FC ReinMeer Aomori FC Sony Sendai FC Osaka FC
2018 Honda FC Osaka FC Vanraure Hachinohe Sony Sendai FC

Relegation from the JFL

The bottom two of the overall table of a season are automatically relegated to the regional leagues and are replaced by the two best-placed teams in the national regional league finals . In the event that clubs leave the JFL in the J3 League, the relegation will be reduced accordingly.


season Promotion to the JFL Relegation from the JFL
1999 Tochigi SC
Shizuoka Sangyo University SC
ALO's Hokuriku
FC Kyoken
2000 Sagawa Express Tokyo SC
NTT West Kumamoto
SC Tottori
Ehime FC
2001 Sagawa Express Osaka SC
Profesor Miyazaki
2002 Sagawa Printing SC Shizuoka Sangyo University SC
Alouette Kumamoto
Profesor Miyazaki
2003 Thespa Kusatsu
Gunma FC Horikoshi
Jatco (leaving)
FC Kyoto 1993
2004 Ryutsu Keizai University FC
Mitsubishi Mizishima FC
Honda Lock
Kokushikan University SC (leaving)
2005 FC Ryūkyū
Rosso Kumamoto
JEF United Ichihara Reserves
2006 TDK
FC Gifu
Sagawa Express SC (Fusion)
Sagawa Express Tokyo SC (Fusion)
Sagawa Express Osaka SC (Fusion)
Honda Lock
2007 Fagiano Okayama
New Wave Kitakyushu
Mio Biwako Kusatsu
Kataller Toyama (Fusion)
ALO's Hokuriku (Fusion)
YKK AP (Fusion)
2008 Machida Zelvia
V-Varen Nagasaki
Honda Lock
2009 Matsumoto Yamaga FC
Tochigi Uva FC
branches Kanazawa
Mitsubishi Mizushima FC (exit)
FC Kariya
2010 Kamatamare Sanuki
AC Nagano Parceiro
Ryutsu Keizai University FC
2011 YSCC Yokohama
Fujieda MYFC
JEF Reserves (exit)
Arte Takasaki (exit)
2012 SC Sagamihara
Fukushima United FC
Sagawa Shiga FC (exit)
2013 azul claro Numazu
Fagiano Okayama Next
Kagoshima United
FC Maruyasu FC Okazaki
Renofa Yamaguchi FC
Vanraure Hachinohe
2014 Nara Club
FC Osaka
Ryūtsū Keizai Dragons Ryūgasaki
2015 Briobecca Urayasu
ReinMeer Aomori FC
SP Kyōto FC (exit)
2016 FC Imabari
Veertien Mie
Fagiano Okayama Next (exit)
2017 Cobaltore Onagawa
Tegevajaro Miyazaki
Briobecca Urayasu
Tochigi Uva FC
2018 Matsue City FC
Suzuka Unlimited FC
Cobaltore Onagawa

Participation in the Kaiser Cup

Until 2008, only the winner of the first half of the season could qualify for the third round of the Kaiser Cup. Due to the expansion of J2, the qualification places were expanded to three by 2010. The other two clubs had to qualify for the first round via a tournament in their home prefectures . After a transition year (2014) without direct qualifiers for the main round, the winner of the first round has been eligible to start the first round of the Kaiser Cup since 2015.

See also

Web links