La Liga play-offs

The La Liga play-offs are an annual series of football matches to determine the final promotion places within Segunda División and La Liga. In its current format, it involves the four teams that finish directly below the automatic promotion places from Segunda División to the top tier. These teams meet in a series of play-off matches to determine the final team that will be promoted. Reserve teams are not eligible for promotion.

La Liga play-offs
Region Spain
Number of teams4
2020 play-offs

The play-offs were first introduced in 1929 and have been staged at the conclusion of every season since. Until 1999, it consisted in games between teams from both leagues, but when it was reinstated, it only involved four teams from Segunda División.



The first edition of La Liga and Segunda División finished with a promotion/relegation playoff between the champion of Segunda División and the last qualified team of La Liga. It was played with a double-leg format and Racing Santander remained in the top tier.[1]

Season Winners Losers
1929 Racing Santander Sevilla


In 1934, the Segunda División was expanded into three groups of 10 teams. The two first qualified teams of each group would play a final stage with a round-robin format. The two top teams, promoted to La Liga.

Season Winner Runner-up Third Fourth Fifth Sixth
1935 Hércules Osasuna Celta Vigo Sabadell Murcia Valladolid
1936 Celta Vigo Zaragoza Arenas Murcia Girona Xerez


Just after the Spanish Civil War, the 1939–40 Segunda División was expanded into five groups where the winners joined the final stage. The champion promoted directly while the runner-up played a single-game to promote to La Liga.

In the next season, the Segunda División was reduced to two groups of 12 teams where the two top teams joined a final group. In this one, the winner and the runner-up promoted directly while the 3rd and 4th qualified played against the two last qualified teams in La Liga. The two winners achieved the spot for the top tier's next season. From 1945 (one year after the reduction of Segunda División to one only group) to 1947, there was only one promotion/relegation game.

All games were played in a neutral venue.

Season Winners Losers
1940 Celta Vigo Deportivo La Coruña
1941 Castellón Zaragoza
Deportivo La Coruña Murcia
1942 Barcelona Murcia
Oviedo Sabadell
1943 Español Real Gijón
Granada Valladolid
1944 Deportivo La Coruña Constancia
Español Alcoyano
1945 Celta Vigo Granada
1946 Español Gimnástico
1947 Real Sociedad Murcia
1950 Alcoyano Gimnástico
Murcia Oviedo


For the leagues of the 1950s, when the Segunda División was divided into two groups, a new promotion/relegation system was created. The second and third qualified of each group and the 13th and 14th of La Liga, played by 16 teams, joined a round-robin group where the two top teams would promote to the next La Liga season.[2]

Season Winner Runner-up Third Fourth Fifth Sixth
1951 Las Palmas Zaragoza Málaga Murcia Sabadell Salamanca
1952 Mestalla[N 1] Real Gijón Real Santander Alcoyano Logroñés Ferrol
1953 Deportivo La Coruña España Industrial[N 2] Celta Vigo Atlético Tetuán Avilés Hércules
1954 Málaga Hércules Osasuna Baracaldo Lérida Jaén
1955 Español Real Sociedad Oviedo Atlético Tetuán Zaragoza Granada
1956 España Industrial[N 3] Zaragoza Oviedo Murcia Betis Alavés


In 1958 the RFEF re-adopted the promotion/relegation play-offs system between teams from La Liga and Segunda División. Teams qualified in positions 13 and 14 of La Liga would face against the 3rd and 4th qualified in Segunda División. The two winners achieved the spot for the top tier's next season.

Season Winners Losers
1959 Granada Sabadell
Las Palmas Levante
1960 Real Sociedad Córdoba
Valladolid Celta Vigo
1961 Elche Atlético Ceuta
Oviedo Celta Vigo
1962 Málaga Real Santander
Valladolid Español
1963 Español Mallorca
Levante Deportivo La Coruña
1964 Español Real Gijón
Oviedo Hércules
1965 Málaga Levante
Sabadell Murcia
1966 Granada Málaga
Sabadell Celta Vigo
1967 Betis Granada
Sevilla Real Gijón
1968 Córdoba Calvo Sotelo
Real Sociedad Valladolid


In 1987 the LFP, with the expansion of La Liga to 20 teams, re-adopted the promotion/relegation play-offs between teams from La Liga and Segunda División. This time, the 17th and 18th qualified teams in La Liga would face the 3rd and 4th position teams of Segunda División, excluding reserve teams.[3] The two winners of the double-legged play-offs would get a place in the next La Liga season. This format worked until 1999, when the LFP removed it and determined that three teams will directly promote or relegate.[4]

In 1997, for reducing the number of teams in La Liga from 22 to 20, there was only one play-off game between the 18th qualified in La Liga and the third one of Segunda.

In gold, teams from La Liga and in silver, teams from Segunda División.

Season Winners Losers
1988 Murcia Rayo Vallecano
Oviedo Mallorca
1989 Mallorca Español
Tenerife Betis
1990 Español Málaga
Tenerife Deportivo La Coruña
1991 Cádiz Málaga
Zaragoza Murcia
1992 Cádiz Figueres
Deportivo La Coruña Betis
1993 Albacete Mallorca
Racing Santander Español
1994 Compostela Rayo Vallecano
Valladolid Toledo
1995 Sporting Gijón Lleida
Salamanca Albacete[N 4]
1996 Extremadura Albacete
Rayo Vallecano Mallorca
1997 Mallorca Rayo Vallecano
1998 Oviedo Las Palmas
Villarreal Compostela
1999 Rayo Vallecano Extremadura
Sevilla Villarreal


For the 2010–11 season, the Segunda División adopted the Football League play-offs format. While the two first qualified teams were directly promoted to La Liga's next season, teams qualified between third and sixth would take part in the play-offs. If a reserve team qualifies in one of these positions, its spot will be transferred to the next best qualified.[5]

Fifth placed faces against the fourth, while the sixth positioned team faces against the third. The final is also two-legged. The best positioned team always plays at home on the second leg.

Since the second edition, a new rule was established: in case of a tied eliminatory there were extra time, once finished it, this season introduced that there would not be penalty shoot-out and the winner would be the best positioned team.[6]

Season Promoted Finalist Semifinalists
2011 Granada Elche Celta and Valladolid
2012 Valladolid Alcorcón Córdoba and Hércules
2013 Almería Girona Alcorcón and Las Palmas
2014 Córdoba Las Palmas Murcia and Sporting Gijón
2015 Las Palmas Zaragoza Girona and Valladolid
2016 Osasuna Girona Córdoba and Gimnàstic
2017 Getafe Tenerife Cádiz and Huesca
2018 Valladolid Numancia Sporting Gijón and Zaragoza
2019 Mallorca Deportivo La Coruña Albacete and Málaga
2020 Elche Girona Almería and Zaragoza


  1. ^ Despite being the reserve team of Valencia, Mestalla played the tournament achieving a promotion spot. Finally, the RFEF did not allow the club to play in La Liga and Real Santander occupied its berth.
  2. ^ Despite being the reserve team of Barcelona, España Industrial played the tournament achieving a promotion spot. Finally, the RFEF did not allow the club to play in La Liga and Celta Vigo occupied its berth.
  3. ^ For playing La Liga's next season, the club changed its name to CD Condal.
  4. ^ Due to the La Liga expansion to 22 teams, Albacete remained in La Liga despite losing the play-offs.


  1. ^ "1929: El Racing de Santander, verdugo del Sevilla, por dos veces" (in Spanish). CIHEFE. 14 February 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Dos liguillas de promoción malditas" (in Spanish). Real Oviedo Info. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Vuelve la promoción y se retorna a Primera" (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Noticias de la temporada 1999/2000" (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Un playoff decidirá el tercer ascendido en el próximo curso" (in Spanish). 16 June 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  6. ^ "No habrá penaltis en los 'playoffs' de ascenso" (in Spanish). Marca. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2016.

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