Promotion and relegation

"Promoted" redirects here. For the 2015 film, see Promoted (film).
Leeds United have been transferred between divisions of the English football league system several times.

In sports leagues, promotion and relegation is a process where teams are transferred between two divisions based on their performance for the completed season. The best-ranked team(s) in the lower division are promoted to the higher division for the next season, and the worst-ranked team(s) in the higher division are relegated to the lower division for the next season. In some leagues, playoffs or qualifying rounds are also used to determine rankings. This process can continue through several levels of divisions, with teams being exchanged between levels 1 and 2, levels 2 and 3, levels 3 and 4, and so on. During the season, teams that are high enough in the league table that they would qualify for promotion are sometimes said to be in the promotion zone, and those at the bottom are in the relegation zone (or, colloquially, the drop zone or facing the drop). [1] [2]

An alternate system of league organisation which is used primarily in the US, Canada and Australia is a closed model which always has the same teams playing, with occasional admission of expansion teams and relocation of existing teams, and with no team movement between the major league and minor leagues.

Overview

SV Darmstadt 98 fans celebrated promotion to the German Bundesliga in 2015...
... while Preston North End fans mourned relegation to English League One in 2011.

The number of teams exchanged between the divisions is almost always identical. Exceptions occur when the higher division wishes to change the size of its membership, or has lost one or more of its clubs (to financial insolvency or expulsion, for example) and wishes to restore its previous membership size, in which case fewer teams may be relegated from that division, or (less often) more teams will accepted for promotion from the division below. Such variations will almost inevitably cause a "knock-on" effect through the lower divisions. For example, in 1995 the Premier League voted to reduce its numbers by two and achieved the desired change by relegating four teams instead of the usual three, whilst allowing only two promotions from Football League Division One. Even in the absence of such extraordinary circumstances, the pyramid-like nature of most European football league systems can still create knock-on effects at the regional level. For example, in a higher league with a large geographical footprint and multiple feeder leagues each representing distinct geographical regions, should most or all of the relegated teams in the higher division come from one particular region then the number of teams to be promoted and/or relegated from each of the feeder leagues may have to be adjusted and/or one or more non-promoted and non-relegated team(s) playing near the "boundary" between the feeder leagues may have to transfer from one feeder league to another to maintain numerical balance.

The system is said to be the defining characteristic of the "European" form of professional sports league organization. Promotion and relegation have the effect of allowing the maintenance of a hierarchy of leagues and divisions, according to the relative strength of their teams. They also maintain the importance of games played by many low-ranked teams near the end of the season, which may be at risk of relegation. In contrast, a low-ranked US or Canadian team's final games serve little purpose, and in fact losing may be beneficial to such teams, yielding a better position in the next year's draft.

Although not intrinsic to the system, problems can occur due to the differing monetary payouts and revenue-generating potential that different divisions provide to their clubs. For example, financial hardship has sometimes occurred in leagues where clubs do not reduce their wage bill once relegated. This usually occurs for one of two reasons: first, the club can't move underperforming players on, or second, the club is gambling on being promoted back straight away and is prepared to take a financial loss for one or two seasons to do so. Some leagues (most notably English football's Premier League) offer " parachute payments" to its relegated teams for the following year(s). [3] The payouts are higher than the prize money received by some non-relegated teams and are designed to soften the financial hit that clubs take whilst dropping out of the Premier League. However, in many cases these parachute payments just serve to inflate the costs of competing for promotion among the lower division clubs as newly relegated teams retain a financial advantage.

In some countries and at certain levels, teams in line for promotion may have to satisfy certain non-playing conditions in order to be accepted by the higher league, such as financial solvency, stadium capacity, and facilities. If these are not satisfied, a lower-ranked team may be promoted in their place, or a team in the league above may be saved from relegation.

While the primary purpose of the promotion/relegation system is to maintain competitive balance, it may also be used as a disciplinary tool in special cases. On several occasions, the Italian Football Federation has relegated clubs found to have been involved in match-fixing. This occurred most recently in 2006, when the season's initial champions Juventus were relegated to Serie B, and two other teams were initially relegated but then restored to Serie A after appeal (see 2006 Serie A scandal). In some Communist nations, particularly several in Europe after World War II, clubs were promoted and relegated for political reasons rather than performance; clubs in East Germany, Romania, and Yugoslavia were given top-flight placements by the Communist authorities from their beginnings, and often held onto their places with these authorities' backing.

International sport

In international football, most tournaments allow all eligible countries to compete together, though some allow stronger teams to enter a later stage than weaker teams who play preliminary qualifiers. An exception is the proposed UEFA Nations League, which will feature promotion and relegation across four levels. In tennis, the Davis Cup has promotion and relegation where each group uses a knockout tournament format in which first-round losers play off to avoid relegation. The Ice Hockey World Championships, Bandy World Championships, Floorball World Championships and European Team Championships in athletics have promotion and relegation, with the winners of the top division being that year's overall champion.

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