Tercera División RFEF
Tercera División RFEF (English: Third Division RFEF), formerly Tercera División (English: Third Division), is the fifth tier of the Spanish football league system. It is below the Primera División (also known as La Liga), the Segunda División, and the semi-professional divisions Primera División RFEF and Segunda División RFEF. It was founded in 1929 as the third tier, and dropped down to the fourth and fifth tiers in 1977 and 2021, respectively.
|Number of teams||397|
|Level on pyramid||3 (1929–1977)|
|Promotion to||Segunda División (1929–1977)|
Segunda División B (1977–2021)
Segunda División RFEF (2021–)
|Relegation to||Divisiones Regionales|
|Domestic cup(s)||Copa del Rey|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Europa League|
(via winning Copa del Rey)
|Current: 2021–22 season|
The current format has been in place since 2006. The Tercera División features 360 teams divided into 18 regional groups, corresponding to the autonomous communities of Spain (due to its size, Andalusia is divided into two groups, East and West; Ceuta is allocated to West Andalusia, while Melilla is allocated to the East). Each group is administered by a regional football federation. At the end of the season the first four teams in each group qualify for promotion play-offs to decide which teams are promoted to Segunda División RFEF. At least the three teams finishing bottom of each group may be relegated to the Divisiones Regionales de Fútbol. However the number of teams relegated can vary. The eighteen group champions also qualify for the following season's Copa del Rey. However reserve teams are ineligible. Along with teams from Segunda División RFEF, the remaining teams from the division compete in the Copa Federación.
Until the 2018–19 season, the 18 group winners had the opportunity of direct promotion to the Segunda División B. The group winners are drawn into a two-legged series, after which the nine winners are promoted to the Segunda División B. The nine losing clubs enter the play-off round for the last nine promotion spots.
The 18 runners-up were drawn against one of the 17 fourth-placed clubs outside their group and the 18 third-placed clubs were drawn against one another in a two-legged series. The 27 winners advanced with the nine losing clubs from the champions' series to determine the 18 teams that entered the final two-legged series for the last nine promotion spots. In all the play-off series, the lower-ranked club played at home first. Whenever there was a tie in position (like the group winners in the champions' series or the third-placed teams in the first round), a draw determined the club to play at home first.
In the 2019–20 season, the promotion play-off rules were altered by an RFEF resolution after that season was suspended and later curtailed due to the coronavirus disease pandemic in Spain. Thus, the top four teams in each group at the time of suspension were deemed to qualify for the play-offs, which will be contested on a regional basis at neutral venues. The 18 group winners were drawn against the fourth-place clubs while the 18 runners-up were drawn against the third-place clubs within their groups, all in two-legged series. The 36 first-round winners played single knock-out games in each of their regions, from which 18 were promoted to the Segunda División B. The 18 losing clubs will be able to play additional play-off rounds if possible for the remaining two spots in the third-tier division, which initially expanded to 100 teams divided into five groups of 20 and subdivided into 10 subgroups of 10 teams each, only for 2020–21. However, two more clubs were promoted after the RFEF cancelled the Tercera División repechages without replaying them, thus there became four groups of 20 and one group of 22, subdivided into eight subgroups of 10 and two subgroups of 11. The 2020–21 Tercera División season was complicated by the pandemic with a need to reduce the number of games and the distances between competing teams where possible, with the additional considerations of the new setup in divisions above and accommodating the increased number of teams due to the promotions without relegations the previous season, though ultimately there was still a number of teams promoted (54 in total), some remaining in the division (234) albeit now in the fifth tier rather than the fourth, and others (109) relegated to the regional divisions as usual.
|1||Galicia||Compostela||Preferente de Galicia|
|2||Asturias||Lealtad||Preferente de Asturias|
|3||Cantabria||Laredo||Preferente de Cantabria|
|4||Basque Country||Portugalete||Basque lower levels|
|5||Catalonia and Andorra||L'Hospitalet||Primera Catalana|
|6||Valencian Community||Alcoyano||Preferente Comunidad Valenciana|
|7||Community of Madrid||Navalcarnero||Preferente de Madrid|
|8||Castile and León||Zamora||Preferente de Castilla y León|
|9||Eastern Andalusia and Melilla||Linares Deportivo||Primera Eastern Andaluza|
|10||Western Andalusia and Ceuta||Betis Deportivo||Primera Western Andaluza|
|12||Canary Islands||Marino||Interinsular Preferente|
|13||Murcia||Lorca Deportiva||Preferente de Murcia|
|14||Extremadura||Villanovense||Preferente de Extremadura|
|15||Navarre||Mutilvera||Preferente de Navarra|
|16||La Rioja||SD Logroñés||Preferente de La Rioja|
|17||Aragon||Tarazona||Preferente de Aragón|
|18||Castile-La Mancha||Socuéllamos||Preferente de Castilla-La Mancha|
During the inaugural La Liga season of 1928–29 a third level of teams known as Segunda División B was also organised. This division featured 10 teams and at the end of the season Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa were crowned champions. However the 1929–30 season saw the first of many reorganisations of the Spanish football league system and the Tercera Division was born. During its first season the division featured 33 teams divided into eight groups. The eight group winners qualified for a play-off and CD Castellón eventually beat Barakaldo CF 3-2 to be declared champions. The most significant reorganisation came at the start of the 1977–78 season with the revival of Segunda División B which replaced the Tercera División as the third level.
The Tercera División will drop down to the fifth level and Segunda Division B to the fourth, with the former to suffix the Spanish federation's initials, RFEF, and the latter to replace B in its name with those initials after the federation's creation of a new third division of two groups with 20 teams each, called Primera División RFEF, which begins play in 2021–22.
Evolution of the Tercera DivisiónEdit
|3||4 to 10 groups||6 groups||14 groups||8 groups||4 groups||Segunda División B||Primera División RFEF|
|4||Regional divisions||6 groups||8 groups||13 groups||14 groups||16 groups||17 groups||17 groups
|17 groups||17 groups
|Segunda División RFEF|
|5||Regional divisions||18 groups|
Latest group champions and promoted teamsEdit
In bold, group champions are promoted to Segunda División B. Administrative promotions not included in this table.
- Puertollano resigned to promotion due to financial difficulties.
- Updated at the end of the 2019–20 season.
- Most seasons
- Most points
- 2,873 – Constància (1.43 per game)
- 2,786 – Murcia Imperial (1.28 per game)
- 2,747 – Don Benito (1.48 per game)
- Most games played
- 2,159 – Murcia Imperial (32.22 per season)
- 2,110 – Arenas Getxo (34.60 per season)
- 2,047 – Europa (36.55 per season)
- Most wins
- Most draws
- Most losses
- Most goals scored
- 3,804 – Cacereño (2.06 per game)
- 3,723 – Murcia Imperial (1.72 per game)
- 3,585 – Rayo Cantabria, formerly Racing Santander B (1.85 per game)
- Most goals received
- 2,803 – Murcia Imperial (1.30 per game)
- 2,711 – Atlético Monzón (1.47 per game)
- 2,674 – Europa (1.31 per game)
- Most group titles
- 16 – Caudal
- Most promotion play-offs played
- 21 – Peña Sport
- Highest attendance
- "La R.F.E.F. comunica las novedosas bases de competición para la próxima temporada en Tercera División" [The RFEF communicates the new competition rules for the next season in the Third Division]. VTV (in Spanish). 15 September 2020.
- "Comunicado de la RFEF en relación con las competiciones no profesionales del fútbol español" (in Spanish). RFEF. 6 May 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
- "Suben a 2ªB los cuatro equipos que no pudieron disputar la fase adicional de ascenso de 3ª División". RFEF (in Spanish). 10 August 2020.
- "La Federación desvela el misterio: La nueva Segunda B se denominará Primera División RFEF". ABC (in Spanish). 15 September 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2020.