The Dutch football league system consists of two fully professional leagues (Eredivisie and Eerste Divisie) and eight levels of amateur football leagues, the highest of which is called Tweede Divisie, formerly Topklasse. All the leagues are connected by a promotion and relegation system, but in order to be promoted to the Eerste Divisie a club has to submit a solid business plan to be approved by the Royal Dutch Football Association, as well as meet certain stadium demands, and some other demands that the association stated for all the teams in the top two leagues. That way it was possible that the IJsselmeervogels won the 2010–11 Topklasse, but was not promoted, because they did not want to be bound to these demands. FC Oss was promoted instead. The association obliges every team from the two fully professional leagues to contract 16 players full-time, in order to keep these leagues fully professional.[citation needed] In 2016 Tweede Divisie was reintroduced as the top amateur level and placed between the Eerste Divisie and the Derde Divisie.[1]

Before the introduction of the Derde Divisie

While they are largely interconnected by way of relegations and promotions, until 2010 it was not possible to be relegated to the Vierde Divisie, then known as Hoofdklasse, from the second professional league. Because the teams in the Hoofdklasse were becoming more semi-professional, and additional teams were making the step to fully professional football, it was decided to form a new level between the Hoofdklasse and the Eerste Divisie, then called the Topklasse consisting of a group for Saturday and a group for Sunday, starting from the 2010–11 to 2015–16 seasons. The Eerste Divisie, consisting of twenty teams back then was reduced to 18 teams, with the two teams that finished last in the 2009–10 Eerste Divisie relegating to the new level. Because of the bankruptcy of HFC Haarlem, only FC Oss was relegated. After the first season FC Oss promoted back to the Eerste Divisie because Topklasse-champion IJsselmeervogels refused to meet the football association's demands. Almere City FC should have been relegated that season, but stayed in the Eerste Divisie because of the bankruptcy of RBC Roosendaal. This results in the fact that in the current competition there had been no mixing anymore between the teams that were competing in the Eerste Divisie and Hoofklasse before the introduction of the Topklasse and later, the reintroduction of the Tweede Divisie and renaming of the Topklasse as Derde Divisie.

Men

Level

Level Name

League(s)/Division(s)

1

Eredivisie

Eredivisie

18 clubs

2

Eerste Divisie

Eerste Divisie

20 clubs

3

Tweede Divisie

Tweede Divisie

18 clubs

4

Derde Divisie

Saturday Group

18 clubs

Sunday Group

18 clubs

5

Vierde Divisie

Saturday A

16 clubs

Saturday B

16 clubs

Sunday A

16 clubs

Sunday B

16 clubs

6 Eerste Klasse West I West II South I East North West I West II South I South II East North
Sat.1A
14 clubs
Sat.1B
14 clubs
Sat.1C
14 clubs
Sat. 1D

14 clubs

Sat.1E

14 clubs

Sun.1A

14 clubs

Sun.1B

14 clubs

Sun.1C

14 clubs

Sun.1D
14 clubs
Sun.1E
14 clubs
Sun.1F
14 clubs
7 Tweede Klasse West I West II South I East North West I West II South I South II East North
2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups 2 Groups
8 Derde Klasse West I West II South I East North West I West II South I South II East North
4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups
9 Vierde Klasse West I West II South I East North West I South I South II East North
8 Groups 9 Groups 5 Groups 6 Groups 4 Groups 6 Groups 7 Groups 8 Groups 4 Groups 4 Groups
10 Vijfde Klasse North West I South I South II East North
5 Groups 4 Groups 5 Groups 8 Groups 7 Groups 6 Groups

[2]

Professional leagues

Amateur leagues

The highest league is called Tweede Divisie (English: Second Division). Until 1971, when the division was discontinued, it was comparable to the former Topklasse. The Tweede Divisie was reintroduced in 2016, decrementing the Topklasse and lower leagues by a level in the pyramid.[1]

Beginning in 2020–21, under-19 teams of professional or amateur clubs in the Tweede Divisie or higher no longer participate in the Derde Divisie, as they have been placed in the newly formed under-21 league. The new under-23 competition is for Tweede or Derde amateur clubs that are not directly eligible for under-21.[3]

Women

Until 2007 the Hoofdklasse was the top division. From 2007 the Eredivisie was the top division until 2011 when the BeNe League was created. In 2011–12 the Topklasse was created above the Hoofklasse. Since 2015 the Eredivisie again is the top level league, as the BeNe League was ended. The Hoofdklasse plays its matches on two different days per division.

Level

Level Name

League(s)/Division(s)

1

Eredivisie

Eredivisie
9 clubs

2

Topklasse

Topklasse
12 clubs

3

Hoofdklasse

Hoofdklasse A Saturday
12 clubs

Hoofdklasse B Sunday
12 clubs

4

Eerste Klasse

Eerste Klasse
Group A, Saturday 12 clubs

Eerste Klasse
Group B, Saturday 12 clubs

Eerste Klasse
Group C, Sunday 12 clubs

Eerste Klasse
Group D, Sunday 12 clubs

5

Tweede Klasse

2 A
Saturday, West 1

2 B
Saturday, West 2

2 C
Saturday, East 1

2 D
Saturday, East 2

2 E
Sunday, West

2 F
Sunday, South 1

2 G
Sunday, South 2

2 H
Sunday, South 1

6

Derde Klasse

Sat 3A
West

Sat 3B
West

Sat 3C
South

Sat 3D
West

Sat 3E
East

Sat 3F
East

Sat 3G
East

Sat 3H
East

Sun 3A
West

Sun 3B
West

Sun 3C
West

Sun 3D
South

Sun 3E
South

Sun 3F
South

Sun 3G
East

Sun 3H
East

References

  1. ^ a b "Plannen tweede divisie gaan door" [Plans for a new Tweede Divisie starting 2016/2017]. NOS.nl (in Dutch). 2 December 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Competitie-indelingen amateurvoetbal seizoen 2020/'21 bekend| knvb". www.knvb.nl. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Bondsvergadering kiest voor nieuwe competitiestructuur in jeugdvoetbal" [Association assembly opts for a new league structure in youth football] (in Dutch). KNVB. 16 December 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2020.