Football fans from England are used to the fairly simple relegation and play-off system that exists across the top four tiers of the football league. But when it comes to understanding the Spanish football league system, things can get a bit more complicated.
This is because the third and fourth tiers of Spanish football feature over 440 teams and are divided into many regional groups. As a result, the play-off systems for promotion (Promocion de Ascenso) and relegation (Permanencia) for the Segunda B (third tier) and Tercera Division (fourth tier) are complex to say the least.
So here is a brief guide to the Spanish football league system for anyone keen to make sense of it all.
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The relegation system from the top flight is simple with the bottom three clubs automatically being relegated the second division.
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The bottom four teams are automatically relegated to Segunda B.
The third tier of Spanish football League System is known as the Segunda B Division and is divided into four groups. The four winning teams from each group enter the play-offs and are drawn into two semi-final matches. The two winners of the two-legged ties are promoted to the Segunda Division and also play each other in a final for the title of overall champions.
The two losing teams still have a chance to get promoted as they drop into the second stage of the next play-off rounds – with the second, third and fourth place teams – to battle for the two remaining promotion places.
Segunda Division B Groups 2017-2018. Photo: Marca.com
The second-place teams in the four groups are drawn against the fourth-place teams and the third-place teams are drawn against each other creating six further two-legged play-off games.
The six winners of these games will advance to the next play-off round where they are joined by the two losing teams from the group winner semi-finals. The eight teams are then drawn against each other to create four two-legged matches with the lower-ranked club playing at home first.
The four winning teams are then drawn into two further two-legged ties and the two winners are then promoted to the Segunda Division along with the already-promoted group winners mentioned earlier.
The fourth tier of Spanish football is known as the Tercera Division. The bottom four clubs from each of the four Segunda B groups (16 teams in total) are relegated automatically and the four teams that finish 16th are drawn into two play-off matches with the two losers also being relegated. This creates a total of 18 promotion places available to the teams in the Tercera Division.
The Tercera Division is divided into 18 groups. The Tercera play-offs follow a similar format to that of the Segunda B but with 18 group winners creating nine two-legged play-off semi-final matches, the winners of which go directly to Segunda B.
The nine losing teams still have a chance to get promoted as they drop into the second stage of the next play-off rounds – with the second, third and fourth-place teams – to battle for the nine remaining promotion places.
The second-place teams in the 18 groups are drawn against the fourth-place teams and the third-place teams are drawn against each other creating 27 further two-legged play-off games.
The 27 winners will advance to the next round where they are joined by the nine losing group winner semi-finalists. The 36 teams are then drawn against each other to create 18 two-legged matches with the lower-ranked club playing at home first.
The 18 winning teams are then drawn into nine further two-legged ties and the nine winners are then promoted to the Segunda B division.
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If a reserve team qualifies for promotion to a league in which its first team is already playing, the play-off place is transferred to the next team in the league table. Similarly, if a first team is relegated to a division in which its B-team is already playing, the B- team is automatically relegated down a division, sparing the team that finished fourth from bottom.
Simple as that!
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