Edited by John Goddard and Peter Sloane
Chapter 2: The promotion and relegation system
Perhaps one of the most appealing characteristics of the organisational structure of professional football at club level throughout Europe is the promotion and relegation system, which assigns all of the national professional league’s member teams to a division or tier, with membership of each tier being determined on merit through the promotion and relegation of the best-and worst-performing teams in each tier to the adjacent one at the end of each season. Teams may also be promoted and relegated between the lowest tier of the professional league and the highest tier of the semiprofessional or amateur league that contains the strongest teams outside the professional sport. Historically, in most countries, promotion and relegation places were determined strictly as a consequence of finishing in the highest or lowest divisional standings at the end of the round-robin competition in which each member team of a division plays every other team in the same division twice, once at home and once away. In recent times, however, many leagues have introduced additional end-of-season play-offs to determine at least one of the promotion or relegation berths. In England these take the form of a knock-out competition between the four highest-finishing teams that failed to win direct promotion, with one promotion berth at stake, from each of the second, third and fourth tiers.
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