J2 League

Last updated

J2 League
2019 J2 League.svg
Founded1999;22 years ago (1999)
CountryJapan
Confederation AFC
Number of teams22
Level on pyramid 2
Promotion to J1 League
Relegation to J3 League
Domestic cup(s) Emperor's Cup
Current champions Tokushima Vortis (1st title)
(2020 season)
Most championships Consadole Sapporo
(3 titles)
TV partners DAZN (Japan)
YouTube (outside Japan)
Website www.jleague.jp/en/
Current: 2021 J2 League
Former logo J.League Division 2.png
Former logo
This logo was used from 2015 to 2018 J2 League (Horizontal).png
This logo was used from 2015 to 2018

The J2 League (Japanese: J2リーグ, Hepburn: J2 Rīgu) or simply J2 is the second division of the Japan Professional Football League (日本プロサッカーリーグ, Nihon Puro Sakkā Rīgu) and the second level of the Japanese association football league system. The top tier is represented by the J1 League. It (along with the rest of the J.League) is currently sponsored by Meiji Yasuda Life and it is thus officially known as the Meiji Yasuda J2 League (Japanese: 明治安田生命J2リーグ). [1] Until the 2014 season it was named the J.League Division 2.

Contents

Second-tier club football has existed in Japan since 1972; however, it was only professionalized during the 1999 season with ten clubs. The league took one relegating club from the top division and nine clubs from the second-tier semi-professional former Japan Football League to create the J2 League. The remaining seven clubs in the Japan Football League, the newly formed Yokohama FC, and one promoting club from the Regional Leagues, formed the nine-club Japan Football League, then the third tier of Japanese football. The third tier is now represented by the J3 League.

History

Phases of Japanese second-tier association football

Amateur era (until 1999)

A national second tier of Japanese association football was first established in 1972, when the Japan Soccer League formed a Second Division. Among the founding 10 clubs, 5 later competed in the J.League: Toyota Motors (inaugural champion), Yomiuri, Fujitsu, Kyoto Shiko Club and Kofu Club. The new division consisted of 10 clubs, like the First Division, and initially required both the champion and runner-up teams to play off a Promotion/Relegation series of test matches against the top flight's bottom clubs. The requirement was abolished for the champions in 1980, and for the runners-up in 1984.

Prior to 1977, the way for clubs to gain access to the Second Division was by making the finals of the All Japan Senior Football Championship and then playing off in their own Promotion/Relegation series against the second tier's bottom clubs. After 1977, the new Regional Football League Competition served as provider of aspiring League clubs. In 1985, the Second Division increased to 12 clubs and in 1986, the number reached 16. Until 1989, the table was divided into East and West groups, depending on geographical location; after that year and until 1992 the table was unified.

In 1992, following the formation of the J.League, the JSL Second Division was renamed the (former) Japan Football League. The league was divided into two hierarchical, unequal divisions of 10 clubs each. In 1994, the JFL was again reunified into a single division. As the J.League expanded in numbers, the need for another second tier with promotion and relegation arose, as the number of clubs which wanted to become professional increased (particularly in the case of Shonan Bellmare, Kashiwa Reysol, Cerezo Osaka and Júbilo Iwata, who had been JSL First Division champions but had not been chosen for the inaugural J.League season).

Professionalization era (1999–2004)

The infrastructure of the league was heavily changed in 1999. The new division acquired nine clubs from the semi-professional JFL and one relegated club from J.League to create a two-division system, both being the professional leagues. The top flight became the J.League Division 1 (J1) with 16 clubs while J.League Division 2 (J2) was launched with ten clubs in 1999. The second-tier (former) Japan Football League became the third-tier Japan Football League at that time.

The criteria for becoming a J2 club were not as strict as those for the top division. This allowed smaller cities and towns to maintain a club successfully without investing as much as clubs in J1. In fact, clubs like Mito HollyHock only draw an average of 3,000 fans a game and receive minimal sponsorship, yet still field fairly competitive teams in J2.

Clubs in J2 took time to build their teams for J1 promotion, as they also tried to gradually improve their youth systems, their home stadium, their financial status, and their relationship with their hometown. Clubs such as Oita Trinita, Albirex Niigata, Kawasaki Frontale, and Ventforet Kofu accomplished this successfully. All these clubs originally started as J2 in 1999 and were comparatively small, but they eventually earned J1 promotion, in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively. Even though Kofu and Ōita were later relegated back to Division 2, they are well-established association football clubs, managing to average 10,000 fans per game.

The league also began to follow European game formats, as time went on. In the first three seasons (1999–2001), games were played with extra time for regular league matches if there was no winner at end of the regulation. The extra time was abolished in 2002, and the league adopted the standard 3-1-0 points system.

Early expansion era (2004–2009)

Two Japan Football League clubs, Mito HollyHock and Yokohama FC joined the J2 League in the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Mito initially tried in the 1999 season, but failed, having better luck the following year. On the other hand, Yokohama FC was formed by the fans of Yokohama Flügels, who went defunct after the merger with Yokohama F. Marinos on 1 January 1999. In essence, these two clubs could and should have joined the league in the inaugural year with the original ten clubs, and it was inevitable that they were eventually accepted by the league.

However, besides these two clubs, it seemed that there was no interest from the lower-level clubs; the second division did not see any further expansion for a few seasons. In 2004, however, two clubs showed interest as Thespa Kusatsu and Tokushima Vortis were accepted to the league. Two years later, in the 2006 season, Ehime FC followed in their footsteps. It turned out that many clubs were aiming for membership at the professional level. However, in the early 2000s, these clubs were still in the regional leagues, and it took them three to four years to even eye professionalism.

Clearly, the concept of second-tier professional association football – the fact that clubs can compete at the professional level with low budgets, was something that attracted many amateur clubs across the Japanese nation. At the beginning of the 2006 season, the league took a survey to determine the number of non-league clubs interested in joining the professional league. The results showed that about 40 to 60 clubs in Japan had plans to professionalize over the next 30 years. From the league's perspective, the J.League 'Hundred Year Vision' from the late 90s has been moving in a positive direction.

In light of this, league management formed a committee and looked at two practical options for further expansion – either expand the second division or form a third division. In other words, the league had a choice between letting the non-league clubs achieve the J2 standard, or forming a third division with non-league clubs, where these clubs can prepare for J2. After conducting several case studies, the committee made a professional assessment that it was in the best interest of the league to expand the J2 to 22 clubs rather than form a third division. Several reasons led the committee to this decision:

  • The Japan Football League, then the third tier in the Japanese football league system, was already serving the purpose of preparing the non-league clubs.
  • At the time, most non-league clubs interested in professionalism were still in the regional or prefectural leagues, two to four levels below J2.
  • Twenty-two clubs is the perfect number for the J2 league, as it allows enough home games for annual revenue, while keeping the competition a fair double-round-robin format.
  • Most European leagues have similar association football pyramids, where there are more clubs in 2nd and 3rd-tier leagues than in the top flight.

The committee also reintroduced Associate Membership System in the 2006 season. This allowed the committee to identify interested non-league clubs and provide necessary resources to them. The membership was exclusively given to non-league clubs that had intentions of joining the J.League, while meeting most of the criteria for J2 promotion. Several clubs in the Japan Football League and Regional Leagues have applied for and received membership. Associate members finishing in the top 4 of the JFL were promoted to J2. Following the promotion of Ehime FC, six more clubs joined J2 League through this system.

As the number of clubs increased, the league format changed from a quadruple round-robin to a triple round-robin format. This was adopted during the 2008 season with 15 clubs and the 2009 season with 18 clubs. In 2009, the J2 league also saw an increase in promotion slots to three, to accommodate the eighteen-club league. As a result, the Promotion/Relegation Series, which allowed the third-place J2 clubs to fight for J1 slots for the following season, was abolished, after its introduction in the 2004 season.

Introduction of double round-robin (2010–2011)

When the league reached 19 clubs in the 2010 season, the J2 League adopted the double round-robin format. The league continued to expand to 22 clubs, and until then there was no relegation to the Japan Football League. In the next few seasons, the maximum number of clubs that could be promoted to J2 was decided by taking the difference of twenty-two minus the number of clubs in J2.

End of expansion and J2 Playoffs (2012–present)

When the league reached 22 clubs, two new regulations were introduced. Only the top two clubs earn automatic promotion, while clubs from 3rd to 6th entered playoffs for the final third promotion slot, as in the English Football League Championship, Serie B, or Segunda División.[ citation needed ] However, the rules will be heavily slanted to favor those with higher league placement:

  • The team third in the standings will face the sixth place team, and the fourth place team will face the fifth, as in the European leagues; however, unlike these leagues, the round will be only one match, at the home side of the higher placed team.
  • The winners of the two matches meet at the home side of the higher placed team, or potentially at a neutral venue (likely Tokyo National Stadium). The winner of this match is promoted to J1.
  • In all matches, in case of a draw after regulation time, the team that ended the season with the higher placement in the league table will be considered the winner, so there will be no extra time and/or penalty shootout.
  • If teams ineligible for promotion finished above sixth, they will not be allowed to participate in the playoffs. Instead, the highest ranked team(s) will receive byes.

Also starting in 2012, at most two clubs can be relegated to the lower tier (for 2012 season only, Japan Football League; from 2013, J3 League), depending on how that league finished.

Current plans (2013–present)

Starting in 2013, a club licensing system was implemented. Clubs failing to fulfill this licensing requirement can be relegated to the third tier, regardless of their league position. The third-tier league, J3 League, was established in 2014, targeting teams having ambitions to reach the J.League. The structure of J2 is likely to remain stable.

Since 2017, two clubs are promoted from and relegated to J3 [2] and starting in 2018, the J2 playoffs winner plays against the 16th-placed J1 club [3] after discussions were held during the prior season. [4] If the J2 playoff winner prevails, the club is promoted, with the J1 club being relegated, otherwise the J1 club can retain its position in J1 with the promotion failure of the J2 club.

Timeline

YearImportant Events# J2
Clubs
Prom.
Slots
Rel.
Slots
1999
  • The J.League adopts two divisions, as nine clubs from the former Japan Football League join Division 2, along with the relegated Consadole Sapporo: Montedio Yamagata, Vegalta Sendai, Omiya Ardija, Kawasaki Frontale, Ventforet Kofu, Sagan Tosu, FC Tokyo, Albirex Niigata, and Oita Trinita
  • The Japan Football League is also restructured, as it becomes the third-tier Japan Football League (JFL).
Note: To distinguish between the former and the current JFL, the new JFL is pronounced Nihon Football League in Japanese.
1020
20001120
20011220
2002
  • Extra time is abolished in Division 2 and traditional 3-1-0 points system is adopted
1220
20031220
2004122.50
2005
  • J.League Division 1 expands to 18 clubs (No relegated clubs from the 2004 J1 season)
  • Tokushima Vortis and Thespa Kusatsu are promoted from Japan Football League
122.50
2006132.50
2007132.50
2008
  • Two clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Roasso Kumamoto and FC Gifu
  • Division 2 adopts the triple-round-robin format from quadruple-round-robin
152.50
20091830
2010
  • One club is promoted from Japan Football League: Giravanz Kitakyushu
  • Division 2 adopts the double-round-robin format from triple-round-robin
1930
20112030
2012
  • Matsumoto Yamaga and Machida Zelvia are promoted from Japan Football League [5]
  • The playoff system for the third promotion spot is introduced
  • Conditional relegation to Japan Football League is introduced. Machida Zelvia became the first club to be relegated from Division 2.
2231
2013
  • One club is promoted from Japan Football League: V-Varen Nagasaki
  • Gainare Tottori became the first club to be relegated to the new J3 League after losing the Promotion/Relegation Series to Kamatamare Sanuki, the last team to get promoted from the Japan Football League.
2230.5
2014
  • Kataller Toyama has been relegated to J3, and Kamatamare Sanuki played and won the first Promotion/Relegation Series with the J3 runners-up. Zweigen Kanazawa becomes the first team to be promoted from J3.
2231.5
2015
  • Tochigi SC has been relegated to the J3, and Oita Trinita played and lost their first Promotion/Relegation Series with the J3 runners-up. Renofa Yamaguchi and runners-up Machida Zelvia are promoted from J3.
2231.5
2016
  • Giravanz Kitakyushu has been relegated to J3, and Zweigen Kanazawa played and won their first Promotion/Relegation Series with the J3 runners-up, Tochigi SC. Oita Trinita is promoted from J3.
2231.5
2017
  • Starting this season, there are two promotions from and two relegations to J3.
  • Thespakusatsu Gunma is relegated to J3, Tochigi SC is promoted.
2232
2018
  • The promotion-relegation playoff is reintroduced, to be played as one match only.
  • Roasso Kumamoto and Kamatamare Sanuki are relegated, FC Ryukyu and Kagoshima United are promoted from J3
222.52
2019
  • Kagoshima United and FC Gifu are relegated, Giravanz Kitakyushu and Thespakusatsu Gunma are promoted from J3
222.52
2020
  • No relegations from J2.
  • Blaublitz Akita and SC Sagamihara are promoted from J3
2220

Stance in the Japanese football pyramid

Since the inception of the second division in 1999, promotion and relegation follow a pattern similar to European leagues, where the two bottom clubs of J1 and the top two clubs of J2 are guaranteed to move. From the 2004 to the 2008 season, the third-place J2 club entered a Promotion/Relegation Series against the sixteenth-place J1 club, with the winner playing in the top flight in the following year. Starting after the 2009 season, the top three J2 clubs received J1 promotion by default, replacing three relegated bottom J1 clubs. However, promotion or the right to play the now-defunct pro/rele series relied on the J2 clubs meeting the requirements for J1 franchise status set by the league. This was not a hindrance, in fact, as no club has been denied promotion due to not meeting the J1 criteria.

The J3 League is currently the third level in the association football system, supplanting the Japan Football League (JFL) which is now one step lower in the system. Being a professional league, the J.League allows only certain clubs from J3 to be promoted. In 2000, 2001, and 2006 the JFL league champion was promoted to J2; in 2005 two teams were promoted. From 2007, the league requires J.League Associate Membership and at least a fourth-place finish in JFL (J3 from 2013) to be promoted to J2. Currently, there are two relegations from J2 to J3. Since 1999, a total of sixteen clubs from JFL (later J3) have been promoted to J2, two of which were expanded into J1. Currently, J1 has 18 clubs and J2 has 22 clubs. Division two expanded to 22 clubs from 20; regular promotion and relegation is in place.

Since its inception in 1999, the format of J2 has been consistent. Clubs played a quadruple round-robin (two home and away) format during the 1999 to 2007 seasons. To accommodate the ongoing expansion process, a triple round-robin format was implemented during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Until the 2001 season, the clubs played extra time if they were tied after regulation and the clubs received three points for a regulation win, two points for an extra time win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss (there were no penalties). However, starting in 2002, the league abolished extra time and set the points system to the standard three-one-nil system.

The number of clubs reached 19 in 2010, and the league format was changed to double round-robin. The number increased to 20 in 2011 and to 22 in 2012, where it has remained since then.

2021 season

League formats

Twenty-two clubs play in double round-robin format, a total of 42 games each. A club receives three points for a win, one point for a tie, and no points for a loss. The clubs are ranked by points, and tie breakers are, in the following order:

A draw would be conducted, if necessary. However, if two clubs are tied at first place, both clubs will be declared champions. Two top clubs will be directly promoted to J1, and the third spot will be decided in the playoff series among clubs placed third to sixth. The team that wins this series will face the 16th J1 team for an entry in the next J1 season. Note that in order to participate in the playoffs a club must possess a J1 license; if one or more clubs fail to do so, they are not allowed in the playoffs and will not be replaced by other clubs.

The relegation to the lower tier J3 League will depend on the number and final standings of promotion-eligible clubs that possess a J2 license. Up to two clubs can be exchanged between two leagues, with direct promotion/relegation between the two bottom-place J2 teams (21st and 22nd) and top two J3 teams (champion and runner-up). If one or both J3 promotion candidates fail to obtain a J2 license, they will not be allowed to promote and J2 relegation spots will be cut accordingly.

Prize money

Participating clubs (2021)

Greater Tokyo Area J2 League Teams
Club nameYear joinedSeasons
in J2
Based inFirst season
in D2
Seasons
in D2
Current spell
in D2
Last spell in
top flight
Albirex Niigata 19998 Niigata & Seirō, Niigata 199892018–2004–2017
Omiya Ardija 199910 Saitama 1987/88202018–2016–2017
Blaublitz Akita 2014 (J3)0All cities/towns in Akita 198522021–
Ehime FC 200615All cities/towns in Ehime 2006152006–
Fagiano Okayama 200912All cities/towns in Okayama 2009122009–
Giravanz Kitakyushu 20108 Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 201082020–
Mito HollyHock 200020 Mito, Ibaraki 1997222000–
JEF United Chiba 1993 (J)11 Chiba & Ichihara, Chiba 2010112010–1965–2009
Júbilo Iwata 1994 (J)3 Iwata, Shizuoka 197972020–2016–2019
Montedio Yamagata 199918All cities/towns in Yamagata 1994232016–2015
Renofa Yamaguchi 2015 (J3)5All cities/towns in Yamaguchi 201652016–
FC Ryukyu 2013 (J3)2 Okinawa, Okinawa 201922019–
SC Sagamihara 2014 (J3)0 Sagamihara, Kanagawa 202102021–
Kyoto Sanga 1996 (J)14Southwestern cities in Kyoto 1972272010–2008–2010
Thespakusatsu Gunma 200514All cities/towns in Gunma 2005142020–
Tochigi SC 200910 Utsunomiya, Tochigi 2009102018–
V-Varen Nagasaki 20137All cities/towns in Nagasaki 201372019–2018
Ventforet Kofu 199914All cities/towns in Yamanashi 1972392018–2013–2017
Tokyo Verdy 1993 (J)14Tokyo1972202009–2008
Matsumoto Yamaga 20128Central cities/towns in Nagano 201282020–2019
Machida Zelvia 20125 Machida, Tokyo 201252016–
Zweigen Kanazawa 2014 (J3)6 Kanazawa 201562015–

Stadiums (2021)

Primary venues used in the J2 League:

Albirex Niigata Blaublitz Akita Ehime FC Fagiano Okayama Omiya Ardija Ventforet Kofu
Denka Big Swan Stadium Soyu Stadium Ningineer Stadium City Light Stadium NACK5 Stadium Omiya Yamanashi Chuo Bank Stadium
Capacity: 42,300Capacity: 20,125Capacity: 20,000Capacity: 20,000Capacity: 15,500Capacity: 17,000
Bigswan080628.JPG Field of Akita Municipal Yabase Athletic Stadium 20190414.jpg EhimePreParkStadium130811-3.JPG Momotaro Stadium 01.jpg Omiya Park Soccer Stadium, R1068484.jpg 01kose3.jpg
Giravanz Kitakyushu Mito HollyHock JEF United Ichihara Chiba Júbilo Iwata Montedio Yamagata Kyoto Sanga FC
Mikuni World Stadium Kitakyushu K's denki Stadium Mito Fukuda Denshi Arena Yamaha Stadium ND Soft Stadium Sanga Stadium by Kyocera
Capacity: 15,300Capacity: 12,000Capacity: 18,500Capacity: 15,165Capacity: 20,315Capacity: 21,600
Mikuni World stadium1.JPG Ksdenkistadium10050501.jpg Fukuda Denshi Arena (2008).jpg Yamahastafium05161.JPG NDsoftstadium20090628.JPG
Sanga stadium by kyocera05.jpg
FC Ryukyu Renofa Yamaguchi FC SC Sagamihara Thespakusatsu Gunma Tochigi SC FC Machida Zelvia
Tapic Kenso Hiyagon Stadium Ishin Me-Life Stadium Sagamihara Gion Stadium Shoda Shoyu Stadium Gunma Tochigi Green Stadium Machida Gion Stadium
Capacity: 25,000Capacity: 20,000Capacity: 15,300Capacity: 15,253Capacity: 18,025Capacity: 10,600
Okinawa Athletic Stadium.JPG Ishin Memorial Park Stadium outview.JPG Asamizopark-4.JPG Shikishima rikujo 1.JPG Tochigi Green 20110417.jpg Machidashiriku2011 1.JPG
Tokyo Verdy V-Varen Nagasaki Matsumoto Yamaga Zweigen Kanazawa
Ajinomoto Stadium Transcosmos Stadium Nagasaki Sunpro Alwin Ishikawa Kanazawa Stadium
Capacity: 49,970Capacity: 20,246Capacity: 20,000Capacity: 20,000
Ajinomoto Stadium 20110625.JPG Nagasaki Athletic Stadium1.JPG ALWIN1.jpg Ishikawa seiburyokuchi stadium.jpg

Former clubs

ClubYear
joined
Seasons
in J2
Based inFirst season
in D2
Seasons
in D2
Last spell
in D2
Current
league
Avispa Fukuoka 1996 (J)16 Fukuoka 1991/92202017–2020J1
Shonan Bellmare 1994 (J)14Western cities/towns in Kanagawa 1990/91182017J1
Cerezo Osaka 1995 (J)6 Osaka and Sakai, Osaka 1991/92102015–2016J1
Consadole Sapporo 1998 (J)14All cities/towns in Hokkaido 1978312013–2016J1
Kawasaki Frontale 19995 Kawasaki, Kanagawa 1972252001–2004J1
Gainare Tottori 20113All cities/towns in Tottori 201132011–2013J3
Gamba Osaka 1993 (J)1 Suita, Osaka 198442013J1
FC Gifu 200812All cities/towns in Gifu 2008122008–2019J3
Nagoya Grampus 1993 (J)1All cities/towns in Aichi 1972132017J1
Kagoshima United FC 2016 (J3)1 Kagoshima, Kagoshima 201912019J3
Kamatamare Sanuki 20145All cities/towns in Kagawa 201452014–2018J3
Kataller Toyama 20096All cities/towns in Toyama 200962009–2014J3
Urawa Red Diamonds 1993 (J)1 Saitama 1989/9022000J1
Kashiwa Reysol 1995 (J)3 Kashiwa, Chiba 1987/8892019J1
Roasso Kumamoto 200811 Kumamoto 2008112008–2018J3
Shimizu S-Pulse 1993 (J)1 Shizuoka 201612016J1
Sagan Tosu 199913 Tosu, Saga 1997151997–2011J1
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1993 (J)2 Hiroshima, Hiroshima 198472008J1
FC Tokyo 19992Tokyo1991/92102011J1
Oita Trinita 199912 Ōita 1996152017–2018J1
Vegalta Sendai 19999 Sendai, Miyagi 1995132004–2009J1
Vissel Kobe 1997 (J)2 Kobe, Hyōgo 1986/87112013J1
Tokushima Vortis 200515All cities/towns in Tokushima 1990/91242015–2020J1
Yokohama FC 200112 Yokohama, Kanagawa 2001122008–2019J1

Champions and promotion history

The top two clubs receive promotion. From the 2004 season to the 2008 season, the 3rd place club played the Promotion/Relegation Series against the 16th-place club in J1. From the 2009 season to the 2011 season, the 3rd place club was promoted by default. Beginning in the 2012 season, the third promotion place is determined by a playoff between the 3rd to 6th actual places.

YearChampionRunner-up3rd placePlayoff winner
1999 Kawasaki Frontale FC Tokyo Oita Trinita
N/A
2000 Consadole Sapporo Urawa Red Diamonds Oita Trinita
2001 Kyoto Purple Sanga Vegalta Sendai Montedio Yamagata
2002 Oita Trinita Cerezo Osaka Albirex Niigata
2003 Albirex Niigata Sanfrecce Hiroshima Kawasaki Frontale
2004 Kawasaki Frontale Omiya Ardija Avispa Fukuoka
2005 Kyoto Purple Sanga Avispa Fukuoka Ventforet Kofu
2006 Yokohama FC Kashiwa Reysol Vissel Kobe
2007 Consadole Sapporo Tokyo Verdy 1969 Kyoto Sanga
2008 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Montedio Yamagata Vegalta Sendai
2009 Vegalta Sendai Cerezo Osaka Shonan Bellmare
2010 Kashiwa Reysol Ventforet Kofu Avispa Fukuoka
2011 FC Tokyo Sagan Tosu Consadole Sapporo
2012 Ventforet Kofu Shonan Bellmare Kyoto Sanga Oita Trinita (6th)
2013 Gamba Osaka Vissel Kobe Kyoto Sanga Tokushima Vortis (4th)
2014 Shonan Bellmare Matsumoto Yamaga JEF United Chiba Montedio Yamagata (6th)
2015 Omiya Ardija Júbilo Iwata
Avispa Fukuoka (3rd)
2016 Consadole Sapporo Shimizu S-Pulse Matsumoto Yamaga Cerezo Osaka (4th)
2017 Shonan Bellmare V-Varen Nagasaki
Nagoya Grampus (3rd)
2018 Matsumoto Yamaga Oita Trinita Yokohama FC Júbilo Iwata (J1)
2019 Kashiwa Reysol Yokohama FC Omiya Ardija Shonan Bellmare (J1)
2020 Tokushima Vortis Avispa Fukuoka V-Varen Nagasaki
N/A
2021 TBDTBD
N/A

* Bold designates the promoted club
† Lost the Promotion/Relegation Series or entry playoff
‡ Won the Promotion/Relegation Series or entry playoff and got promoted

Most successful clubs

Clubs in bold compete in J2 as of the 2021 season.

ClubWinnersRunners-upPromotionsWinning seasonsRunners-up seasonsPromotion seasons
Consadole Sapporo
3
0
4
2000, 2007, 20162000, 2007, 2011, 2016
Shonan Bellmare
2
1
4
2014, 201720122009, 2012, 2014, 2017
Kashiwa Reysol
2
1
3
2010, 201920062006, 2010, 2019
Kyoto Sanga
2
0
3
2001, 20052001, 2005, 2007
Kawasaki Frontale
2
0
2
1999, 20041999, 2004
Ventforet Kofu
1
1
3
201220102005, 2010, 2012
Oita Trinita
1
0
3
20022002, 2012, 2018
Yokohama FC
1
1
2
200620192006, 2019
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
1
1
2
200820032003, 2008
Vegalta Sendai
1
1
2
200920012001, 2009
FC Tokyo
1
1
2
201119991999, 2011
Omiya Ardija
1
1
2
201520042004, 2015
Tokushima Vortis
1
0
2
20202013, 2020
Matsumoto Yamaga
1
1
1
201820142014
Albirex Niigata
1
0
1
20032003
Gamba Osaka
1
0
1
20132013
Avispa Fukuoka
0
2
4
2005, 20202005, 2010, 2015, 2020
Cerezo Osaka
0
2
3
2002, 20092002, 2009, 2016
Vissel Kobe
0
1
2
20132006, 2013
Montedio Yamagata
0
1
2
20082008, 2014
Urawa Red Diamonds
0
1
1
20002000
Tokyo Verdy
0
1
1
20072007
Sagan Tosu
0
1
1
20112011
Júbilo Iwata
0
1
1
20152015
Shimizu S-Pulse
0
1
1
20162016
V-Varen Nagasaki
0
1
1
20172017
Nagoya Grampus
0
0
1
2017

Promotion playoff results

SeasonFirst semi-final (3rd vs 6th)Second semi-final (4th vs 5th)Final
2012 Kyoto Sanga 04 Oita Trinita Yokohama FC 04 JEF United Chiba Oita Trinita 10 JEF United Chiba
2013 Kyoto Sanga 00 V-Varen Nagasaki Tokushima Vortis 11 JEF United Chiba Kyoto Sanga 02 Tokushima Vortis
2014 Not held Júbilo Iwata 1–2 Montedio Yamagata (6th) JEF United Chiba 0–1 Montedio Yamagata
2015 Avispa Fukuoka 1–0 V-Varen Nagasaki Cerezo Osaka 0–0 Ehime FC Avispa Fukuoka 1–1 Cerezo Osaka
2016 Matsumoto Yamaga 1–2 Fagiano Okayama Cerezo Osaka 1–1 Kyoto Sanga Cerezo Osaka 1–0 Fagiano Okayama
2017 Nagoya Grampus 4–2 JEF United Chiba Avispa Fukuoka 1–0 Tokyo Verdy Nagoya Grampus 0–0 Avispa Fukuoka
2018 Tokyo Verdy (6th) 1–0 Omiya Ardija (5th) Tokyo Verdy (6th) 1–0 Yokohama FC (3rd) Júbilo Iwata 2–0 Tokyo Verdy
SeasonFirst roundSecond roundFinal
2019 Montedio Yamagata (3rd) 2–0 Omiya Ardija (6th)
Tokushima Vortis (4th) 1–1 Ventforet Kofu (5th)
Tokushima Vortis 1–0 Montedio Yamagata Shonan Bellmare 1–1 Tokushima Vortis
Results
ClubParticipatedWinnersRunners-upSeasons
participated
Winning seasonsRunner-up seasons
Cerezo Osaka
2
1
1
2015, 201620162015
Avispa Fukuoka
2
1
1
2015, 201720152017
Montedio Yamagata
2
1
0
2014, 20162014
Tokushima Vortis
1
1
1
201320132019
Oita Trinita
1
1
0
20122012
Nagoya Grampus
1
1
0
20172017
JEF United Chiba
4
0
2
2012, 2013, 2014, 20172012, 2014
Kyoto Sanga
3
0
1
2012, 2013, 20162013
Tokyo Verdy
1
0
1
20172018
Yokohama FC
1
0
0
2012
V-Varen Nagasaki
1
0
0
2013
Júbilo Iwata
1
0
0
2014
Ehime FC
1
0
0
2015
Fagiano Okayama
1
0
0
2016

Relegation history

Upon the formation of the second division, the league had not implemented any relegation mechanism between J2 and the (formerly) third-tier Japan Football League, and the exchange between divisions worked one-way only. After years of gradual expansion the division has reached its planned capacity of 22 teams, therefore allowing J.League to start relegating bottom-place teams to JFL. Machida Zelvia set the unhappy milestone in 2012, becoming the very first team to be relegated from J2 (and the only team ever to be relegated to JFL). Next year the professional J3 League was formed, making relegation between second and third tiers a permanent establishment.

The rules for exchange between J2 and J3 are the following between 2017 and 2019, and starting in 2022: the 21st and 22nd-place J2 teams are relegated immediately and are replaced by the J3 champion and runner-up. [2] If one or both J3 contenders do not possess J2 licenses, they are not allowed to be promoted, and the relegation spots for J2 sides are reduced accordingly.

No teams descended from J1 or to J3 after the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan and its effects. [6] Instead, two promotions and four relegations are in place for the 2021 season, keeping the number of J2 teams at 22. [7]

Year21st place22nd place
2012 FC Gifu FC Machida Zelvia
2013 FC Gifu Gainare Tottori
2014 Kamatamare Sanuki Kataller Toyama
2015 Oita Trinita Tochigi SC
2016 Zweigen Kanazawa Giravanz Kitakyushu
2017 Roasso Kumamoto Thespakusatsu Gunma
2018 Roasso Kumamoto Kamatamare Sanuki
2019 Kagoshima United FC FC Gifu
Year19th place20th place21st place22nd place
2021 TBDTBDTBDTBD

* Bold designates relegated clubs
Won the playoff against JFL or J3 team
Lost the playoff series to JFL or J3 team and was relegated

Other tournaments

Domestic tournaments
Defunct tournament

Players and managers

Managers

Top scorers

YearPlayerNationalitySquadGoals
1999 Takuya Jinno Flag of Japan.svg Japan Oita Trinita 19
2000 Emerson Sheik Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil Consadole Sapporo 31
2001 Marcos Vegalta Sendai 34
2002 Marx Albirex Niigata 19
2003 32
2004 Juninho Kawasaki Frontale 37
2005 Paulinho Kyoto Purple Sanga 22
2006 Borges Vegalta Sendai 26
2007 Hulk Tokyo Verdy 37
2008 Hisato Sato Flag of Japan.svg Japan Sanfrecce Hiroshima 28
2009 Shinji Kagawa Cerezo Osaka 27
2010 Mike Havenaar Ventforet Kofu 20
2011 Yohei Toyoda Sagan Tosu 23
2012 Davi Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil Ventforet Kofu 32
2013 Kempes JEF United Chiba 22
2014 Masashi Oguro Flag of Japan.svg Japan Kyoto Sanga 26
2015 Jay Bothroyd Flag of England.svg England Júbilo Iwata 20
2016 Jong Tae-se Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea Shimizu S-Pulse 26
2017 Ibba Laajab Flag of Norway.svg  Norway Yokohama FC 21
2018 Genki Omae Flag of Japan.svg Japan Omiya Ardija 24
2019 Leonardo Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil Albirex Niigata 29
2020 Peter Utaka Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria Kyoto Sanga 22

See also

Soccer/Football
League system
Domestic cup
Futsal
Beach soccer

Related Research Articles

The J1 League or simply J1 is the top division of the Japan Professional Football League and the top professional Football J.League in Japan. It is one of the most successful leagues in Asian club football. Currently, the J1 League is the first level of the Japanese association football league system. The second tier is represented by the J2 League. It is currently sponsored by Meiji Yasuda Life and thus officially known as the Meiji Yasuda J1 League. Until the 2014 season it was named the J.League Division 1.

Vissel Kobe Japanese association football club

Vissel Kobe is a Japanese professional football club based in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture. The club plays in the J1 League, which is the top tier of football in the country. The team's home stadium is Kobe Wing Stadium, in Hyōgo-ku, though some home matches are played at Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium in Suma-ku.

Kashiwa Reysol

Kashiwa Reysol is a Japanese professional football club based in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, part of the Greater Tokyo Area. The club plays in the J1 League, which is the top tier of football in the country. Their home stadium is Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium, also known as "Hitachidai". Reysol is a portmanteau of the Spanish words Rey and Sol, meaning "Sun King". The name alludes to their parent company Hitachi, whose name is associated with the sun in Japanese. The club was formed in 1940 and was a founding member of the Japan Soccer League (JSL) in 1965. Since the league's inception, they have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier of Japanese football. They have been Japanese League champions twice in 1972 and 2011, and have won three League Cups in 1976, 1999 and 2013, and three Emperor's Cups in 1972, 1975 and 2012.

J.League Japans professional association football (soccer) league

The J.League, officially Japan Professional Football League is Japan's professional football league including the first division J1 League, second division J2 League and third division J3 League of the Japanese association football league system. J1 League is one of the most successful leagues in Asian club football. It is currently sponsored by Meiji Yasuda Life and thus officially known as the Meiji Yasuda J.League.

Japan Football League

The Japan Football League, also known as simply the JFL is the 4th tier of the Japanese association football league system, positioned beneath the three divisions of the J.League. The league features fully professional teams that hold J.League associate membership among its ranks.

The Japanese association football league system is organized in a pyramidal shape similar to football league systems in many other countries around the world. The leagues are bound by the principle of promotion and relegation; however, there are stringent criteria for promotion from the JFL to J3, which demands a club being backed by the town itself including the local government, a community of fans and corporate sponsors rather than a parent company or a corporation.

The Japanese Regional Football League Competition is a nationwide play-off tournament meant as a transition for Japanese football clubs competing in regional leagues to the Japan Football League.

The 2009 Japan Football League was the eleventh season of the Japan Football League, the third tier of the Japanese football league system.

The 2009 J. League Division 2 season was the 38th season of the second-tier club football in Japan and the 11th season since the establishment of J2 League. The season started on March 7 and ended on December 5.

The 2008 J. League Division 2 season is the 37th season of the second-tier club football in Japan and the 10th season since the establishment of J2 League. The season started on March 8 and ended on December 6.

The 2005 J.League Division 2 season was the 34th season of the second-tier club football in Japan and the 7th season since the establishment of J2 League.

The 2012 J.League Division 2 season is the 41st season of the second-tier club football in Japan and the 14th season since the establishment of J2 League. The season started on March 4 and will finish on November 11, followed by the promotion playoffs among the 3rd to 6th placed clubs.

Japanese football in 2012

The 2013 J.League Division 2 season is the 42nd season of the second-tier club football in Japan and the 15th season since the establishment of J2 League. The regular season began on 3 March and ended on 24 November, followed by the promotion play-offs among four clubs ranked between 3rd and 6th at the end of regular season. Gamba Osaka became champions, and Vissel Kobe became runners-up, both returned to J1 immediately after one season at J2. The other promoted team is third runners-up Tokushima Vortis, who won the promotion playoff final, defeating Kyoto Sanga FC. With the win, Vortis are making their J1 debut, becoming the first professional Shikoku football club to compete in the top division of their national league.

The 2013 Japan Football League is the 17th season of the third tier of the Japanese football, and the 15th season since the establishment of Japan Football League. It started on 10 March and finished on 24 November.

J3 League

J3 League or simply J3 is the third division of Japan Professional Football League that has established a third-tier professional association football league in Japan starting in 2013.

Japanese football in 2013.

The 2015 Japan Football League was the second season of the nationwide fourth tier of the Japanese football, and the 17th season since the establishment of Japan Football League. The first stage of the season was played from 8 March to 7 June, and the second stage of the season from 20 June to 15 November, while post-season championship playoffs were held on 29 November and 5 December.

Japanese football in 2015.

The 2016 Japan Football League was the third season of the nationwide fourth tier of the Japanese football, and the 18th season since the establishment of Japan Football League.

References

  1. The logo used in Japan is labeled 「明治安田生命 J2 LEAGUE」.
  2. 1 2 2017明治安田生命J3リーグ 大会方式および試合方式について [2017 Meiji Yasuda Life J3 League: About the tournament and game method]. jleague.jp (in Japanese). 13 December 2016. Archived from the original on 13 December 2016.
  3. "2018年以降のJ1・J2昇降格決定方法について". J.League. 27 June 2017.
  4. "なぜ今J1参入プレーオフ導入? リーグはJ3、JFL入れ替えも議論". Gekisaka.jp. 27 June 2017.
  5. Orlowitz, Dan (13 December 2011). "Japan's J-League officially admits Matsumoto Yamaga and Machida Zelvia into 2012 season". Goal. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  6. Orlowitz, Dan (19 March 2020). "J.League to skip relegation as schedule threatened by coronavirus". The Japan Times.
  7. "Number of clubs promoted and relegated at the end of the 2021 season" (Press release). J.League. 18 November 2020. Retrieved 2 January 2021.