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The Regionalliga (German pronunciation: [ʁeɡi̯oˈnaːlˌliːɡa]) is the fourth tier in the German football league system. Until 1974, it was the second tier in Germany. In 1994, it was introduced as the third tier. Upon the creation of the new nationwide 3. Liga in 2008, it became the fourth tier. While all of the clubs in the top three divisions of German football are professional, the Regionalliga has a mixture of professional and semi-professional clubs.

Fußball-Regionalliga logo.svg
ConfederationUEFA (Europe)
DivisionsRegionalliga Nord
Regionalliga Nordost
Regionalliga West
Regionalliga Südwest
Regionalliga Bayern
Number of teams100
Level on pyramid4
Promotion to3. Liga
Relegation toOberliga
Current championsNone officially (Nord)
Viktoria Berlin (Nordost)
Borussia Dortmund II (West)
SC Freiburg II (Südwest)
1. FC Schweinfurt (Bayern)
Current: 2021–22 Regionalliga

History of the RegionalligasEdit


From the introduction of the Bundesliga in 1963 until the formation of the 2. Bundesliga in 1974, there were five Regionalligas, forming the second tier of German Football:

The champions and runners-up of the respective divisions played out two promotion spots to the Bundesliga in two groups after the end of the season.

In 1974, the two 2. Bundesligas, Süd and Nord became the second tier of German Football and the Regionalligas ceased existing for the next 20 years.


In 1994, the Regionalligas were re-introduced, this time as the third tier of German Football. There were initially four Regionalligas:

  • Regionalliga Süd, (covering the states of Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg)
  • Regionalliga West/Südwest, (covering the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia)
  • Regionalliga Nord, (covering the states of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen and Hamburg)
  • Regionalliga Nordost, (covering the states of Brandenburg, Berlin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony; i.e. the former GDR and the city of Berlin)

Between 1994 and 2000, promotion to the 2. Bundesliga was regulated without much continuity. It was a problematic rule, as becoming champion of a division did not automatically mean promotion for that team. The champions of the South and West/Southwest divisions were automatically promoted, however, along with one of the two runners-up. The champions of the North and Northeast divisions had a play-off to decide who would get the fourth promotion spot. This rule was justified because there are more clubs in the southern part of Germany than the north.

In 1998, the promotion rule was changed again: the winner of the play-off between the North and Northeast division champions was promoted, while the loser faced the runners-up from the West/Southwest and South divisions in another play-off for the remaining promotion spot.


In 2000 the number of Regionalligas was reduced to two:

The new divisional alignment was not bound to certain states any more so teams were moved between the divisions in order to balance club numbers. This led to some clubs in the Southern division being geographically further north than some northern clubs, and vice versa.

The champions and the runners-up of both divisions were promoted to the 2. Bundesliga.


In 2008, the Regionalliga was demoted to become the fourth tier of football in Germany after the introduction of a new nationwide 3. Liga. However, there was an expansion to three divisions:[1]

  • Regionalliga Nord, (covering the states of Brandenburg, Berlin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Saxony, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen and Hamburg)
  • Regionalliga Süd, (covering the states of Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg)
  • Regionalliga West, (covering the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia)

"Covering" meant that the single divisions were annually re-aligned to geographic location by a DFB committee in order to have 18 teams assigned to each division every year. This led to teams assigned to a division other than their geographical one. An example for this is BV Cloppenburg, who was assigned to the Western division for the 2008–09 season despite being located in Lower Saxony.


In October 2010, yet another reform of the Regionalligas was decided upon, with the number of leagues expanding to five and beginning play in the 2012–13 season. Under this new format, the old Regionalliga Nordost would be re-established and the new Regionalliga Südwest and Regionalliga Bayern would be created. The Südwest would take clubs from the southern portion of the Regionalliga West and also everything from the Regionallia Süd outside of Bavaria. It was also decided to limit the number of reserve teams per Regionalliga to seven.[2]

The five league champions and the runners-up of the Regionalliga Südwest play-off for the three promotion spots in a home-and-away series. The new leagues consisted of up to 22 clubs in their inaugural seasons but were reduced to between 16 and 18 clubs. The Regionalligas will not be administrated by the DFB but rather by the regional football associations. In regards to reserve teams, initially only seven were permitted per league, however, this rule may be subject to change under certain circumstances. Reserve sides of 3. Liga teams are not permitted in the Regionalliga.[3]

The reorganisation of the Regionalligas so soon after the last changes in 2008 became necessary because of a large number of insolvencies. These were caused by a lack of media interest in the leagues combined with large expenses and infrastructure demands. The five Regionalligas from 2012 are:[3]

Some regional football associations also made changes to the league system below the Regionalliga in their area. From the 2012–13 season, the Bavarian Football Association split the Bayernliga into a northern and a southern division, and increased the number of Landesligas from three to five.[4]

Changes to promotion rules from 2018Edit

At the 96th DFB-Bundestag in December 2017, delegates decided to change the promotion rules and, without success, reduce the number of leagues to four. To achieve this, a temporary solution was put into place for the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons. Four teams will be promoted and there will be three guaranteed promotion places from the champions of the five regional leagues. The champion of the southwest league, which is giving up its second playoff place, will be promoted automatically in the next two seasons. Additionally there will be two teams promoted from the other four regional leagues. In the 2018–19 season, the champion of the northeast league will also be promoted directly. The winner of the third guaranteed promotion place will be decided by the drawing of lots. The remaining two regional league champions of the 2018–19 season will face off in a two-legged playoff determining the fourth promotion place. The two regional leagues whose teams took part in the playoff automatically had promotion places for the 2019–20 season. As a result, the third division has had four relegation places.[5]

At the 97th DFB-Bundestag in 2019, a working group under DFB vice-president Peter Frymuth unsuccessfully proposed a system involving four rather than five regional leagues.[5] Instead, the delegates reformed the promotion scheme from the 2020–21 season, in which there will continue to be four promotions to the 3. Liga. The Regionalliga West and Southwest each provide a fixed direct promotion. Another direct promotion place will be assigned according to a rotation principle among the Regionalliga Nord, Nordost and Bayern champions. The representatives from the remaining two Regionalligen will determine the fourth promoted club in two-legged playoffs.[6]


The history and development of the Regionalligas in maps:

League setupEdit


A club that wants to play in the Regionalliga must meet two conditions. First, the team must qualify for the league. Second, the club must obtain a license from the DFB. This license is granted if the club can prove that they are financially sound, that their stadium conforms to the security regulations, and that they have a working youth section.


The champions of three divisions are automatically promoted; the remaining two take part in the promotion round to the 3. Liga at the end of the season for the fourth promotion. Reserve teams will also be eligible for promotion unless the respective first team is playing in the 3. Liga.


At least the bottom two teams of each division are demoted to their respective Oberliga. In the Regionalliga Nord, the fourth-to-last team will also be demoted if it loses a play-off against the Oberliga Niedersachsen runner-up. The third-to-last team will participate in the play-off if the Nord champion is promoted and no team relegated from the 3. Liga is from the north. The actual number of teams relegated from every division depends on the number of relegations from the 3. Liga and promotions from the Oberliga.

As clubs in the Regionalliga must have their teams licensed by the DFB on a per-season basis, a team may also be relegated by having its license revoked or by going into administration. Reserve teams are also relegated when the respective first team is relegated to the 3. Liga.

Squad rulesEdit

Matchday squads in the Regionalliga must include at least six players of German nationality and under the age of 24, two under the age of 21, and a maximum of three non-EU players.



Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga West Regionalliga Berlin Regionalliga Südwest Regionalliga Süd
1963–64 FC St. Pauli Alemannia Aachen SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen KSV Hessen Kassel
1964–65 Holstein Kiel Borussia Mönchengladbach Tennis Borussia Berlin 1. FC Saarbrücken Bayern Munich
1965–66 FC St. Pauli Fortuna Düsseldorf Hertha BSC FK Pirmasens 1. FC Schweinfurt 05
1966–67 Arminia Hannover Alemannia Aachen Hertha BSC Borussia Neunkirchen Kickers Offenbach
1967–68 Arminia Hannover Bayer Leverkusen Hertha BSC SV Alsenborn SpVgg Bayern Hof
1968–69 VfL Osnabrück Rot-Weiss Oberhausen Hertha Zehlendorf SV Alsenborn Karlsruher SC
1969–70 VfL Osnabrück VfL Bochum Hertha Zehlendorf SV Alsenborn Kickers Offenbach
1970–71 VfL Osnabrück VfL Bochum SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen 1. FC Nürnberg
1971–72 FC St. Pauli Wuppertaler SV SC Wacker 04 Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen Kickers Offenbach
1972–73 FC St. Pauli Rot-Weiss Essen Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin FSV Mainz 05 SV Darmstadt 98
1973–74 Eintracht Braunschweig SG Wattenscheid 09 Tennis Borussia Berlin Borussia Neunkirchen FC Augsburg


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga Nordost Regionalliga West/Südwest Regionalliga Süd
1994–95 VfB Lübeck Carl Zeiss Jena Arminia Bielefeld SpVgg Unterhaching
1995–96 VfB Oldenburg Tennis Borussia Berlin FC Gütersloh Stuttgarter Kickers
1996–97 Hannover 96 FC Energie Cottbus SG Wattenscheid 09 1. FC Nürnberg
1997–98 Hannover 96 Tennis Borussia Berlin Rot-Weiß Oberhausen SSV Ulm 1846
1998–99 VfL Osnabrück Chemnitzer FC Alemannia Aachen SV Waldhof Mannheim
1999–2000 VfL Osnabrück 1. FC Union Berlin 1. FC Saarbrücken SSV Reutlingen 05


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga Süd
2000–01 1. FC Union Berlin Karlsruher SC
2001–02 VfB Lübeck Wacker Burghausen
2002–03 Erzgebirge Aue SpVgg Unterhaching
2003–04 Rot-Weiss Essen Bayern Munich II
2004–05 Eintracht Braunschweig Kickers Offenbach
2005–06 Rot-Weiss Essen FC Augsburg
2006–07 FC St. Pauli SV Wehen
2007–08 Rot Weiss Ahlen FSV Frankfurt


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga West Regionalliga Süd
2008–09 Holstein Kiel Borussia Dortmund II 1. FC Heidenheim
2009–10 SV Babelsberg 03 1. FC Saarbrücken VfR Aalen
2010–11 Chemnitzer FC Preußen Münster SV Darmstadt 98
2011–12 Hallescher FC Borussia Dortmund II Stuttgarter Kickers


Season Regionalliga Nord Regionalliga Nordost Regionalliga West Regionalliga Südwest Regionalliga Bayern
2012–13 Holstein Kiel RB Leipzig Sportfreunde Lotte KSV Hessen Kassel TSV 1860 Munich II
2013–14 VfL Wolfsburg II TSG Neustrelitz SC Fortuna Köln SG Sonnenhof Großaspach Bayern Munich II
2014–15 Werder Bremen II 1. FC Magdeburg Borussia Mönchengladbach II Kickers Offenbach Würzburger Kickers
2015–16 VfL Wolfsburg II FSV Zwickau Sportfreunde Lotte SV Waldhof Mannheim SSV Jahn Regensburg
2016–17 SV Meppen Carl Zeiss Jena FC Viktoria Köln SV Elversberg SpVgg Unterhaching
2017–18 SC Weiche Flensburg 08 FC Energie Cottbus KFC Uerdingen 05 1. FC Saarbrücken TSV 1860 Munich
2018–19 VfL Wolfsburg II Chemnitzer FC FC Viktoria Köln SV Waldhof Mannheim Bayern Munich II
2019–20 VfB Lübeck1 Lokomotive Leipzig1 SV Rödinghausen1 1. FC Saarbrücken1 (no champion)
2020–21 Weiche Flensburg (led table) Viktoria Berlin1 Borussia Dortmund II SC Freiburg II 1. FC Schweinfurt 05 (play-off winner)
1 Awarded on points-per-game basis after season was not completed


  1. ^ "Official DFB article on the 3rd Bundesliga and Regionalliga" (in German). DFB. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  2. ^ "DFB-Bundestag beschließt Reform der Spielklassen" (in German). DFB. 22 October 2010. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b "DFB weitet die Spielklassenreform aus" (in German). 29 April 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Die Ligenstruktur – Auf- und Abstieg" (in German). Bavarian Football Association (BFV). 12 February 2011. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Änderung der Aufstiegsregelung in der Regionalliga beschlossen". (in German). DFB. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Eigener Ausschuss und neue Aufstiegsregelung zur 3. Liga" [Own committee and new promotion scheme to the 3. Liga]. DFB. 27 September 2019.

External linksEdit