Japan Football League

Last updated
Japan Football League
Jfl logo.png
Founded1999;22 years ago (1999)
CountryJapan
Confederation AFC
Number of teams 17
Level on pyramid 4
Promotion to J3 League
Relegation to Japanese Regional Leagues
Domestic cup(s) Emperor's Cup
Current champions Verspah Oita
(2020)
Most championships Honda FC
(9 titles)
Website www.jfl.or.jp
Current: 2021 Japan Football League

The Japan Football League, (Japanese: 日本フットボールリーグ, Hepburn: Nihon Futtobōru Rīgu) 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.

Contents

Relationship and position of J. League and Japan Football League (JFL)

According to the official document published in December 2013 when the J3 League was established, the J3 League was the 3rd level of the J.League. The J.League and non-J.League amateur leagues have different hierarchical structures, and the J3 League was ranked on the same level as the JFL. In addition, the JFL itself has the same recognition in the material showing the league composition on the official website. [1] Therefore, the JFL is treated as equal to J3 in theory, but in practice it is considered equivalent to a 4th division.

History

The Japan Football League started from the 1999 season when the second division of J.League (J2) was also born. Until then, J.League consisted of only one division and the former JFL was the second highest division. Out of 16 teams who played the last season of the former JFL, 9 decided and were accepted to play in J2 and the other 7 teams as well as Yokogawa Electric, the winners of the Regional League Promotion Series, formed the new Japan Football League. These 8 teams together with Yokohama FC that was allowed to participate as a special case after the merger of Yokohama Flügels and Yokohama Marinos competed in the inaugural 1999 season.

The 9 teams that competed in the first season were as follows: Denso SC, Honda Motors, Jatco SC, Kokushikan University F.C., Mito HollyHock, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Sony Sendai, Yokohama FC and Yokogawa Electric.

In the second season the number of clubs was increased from 9 to 12, reaching 16 in 2001. In 2002 it was briefly 18 clubs before going back to 16 the next season and settling for good at 18 in 2006. For the 2012 season it had 17 clubs due to the late withdrawal of Arte Takasaki.

The league suffered another contraction after 2013 season, as 10 of its 18 teams joined the newly created J3 League. It also moved a tier down the pyramid, making it fourth-tier league since 2014.

Four former JFL clubs have competed in the top flight: Yokohama FC (2007), Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (2014, as Tokushima Vortis), Matsumoto Yamaga (2015), and V-Varen Nagasaki (2018).

Overview

JFL clubs may be affiliated to companies, or be entirely autonomous clubs or reserve teams of these. Until 2010, university clubs (which as a rule do not play in the Japanese football league system) were recommended by the Japan University Football Association and played off against bottom JFL teams for entrance. B-teams are allowed to participate but only A-squads of truly autonomous clubs are eligible for J.League Associate Membership, and with it, promotion to J.League.

Promotion from JFL

A club that satisfies the following criteria will be promoted to J.League Div. 2 (for the 2012 and 2013 seasons):

With the establishment of the J3 League in the 2014 season, the top 2 requirements are no longer necessary should a team that is approved by J.League Committee and is a J.League Associate Member. However, they start in the J3 instead. The JFL is the highest tier of amateur level football in Japan again, but they still serve the purpose of helping potential J.League clubs to participate in the J3.

Relegation from JFL

Up to two teams at the bottom of the league may face a direct relegation or relegation/promotion play-off against the teams finishing at the top of the Regional League promotion competition. The number of the teams who need to compete in the play-off varies depending on the number of the teams that are promoted to J3 or withdrawn from the JFL.

Emperor's Cup eligibility

Until 2008, only the club at the top of the standings at half-season (17 matches completed) was qualified for the Emperor's Cup, entering it at the third round along with the clubs in J2, but the allotment was widened to the top three clubs in 2010 due to the expansion of J2. Every other club must qualify through a qualifying cup in their own prefecture and then must enter at the first round. In 2015, only the winner of the apertura (first half) qualified.

JFL XI

In 1999 (Bangabandhu Cup) and since 2014, a JFL XI team has played off-season matches against guest teams. The 2016 season also featured an JFL East vs JFL West all-star encounter.

2021 season

Competition format

The league follows a one-stage double round-robin, wherein the team finishing at the top of the table following the season is declared the champion. From 2014 to 2018 it used the Apertura and Clausura system, with two winners of each stage contesting the championship in the playoff. From 2019 it used the single table with double round-robin system to 30 matches.

Participating clubs

Club NameFirst Season
in JFL
Seasons
in JFL
Home Town(s)Current Spell
in JFL
Last
title
Qualifiable base
for J.League
Honda FC 199922 Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 1999–2019No
Iwaki FC 20201 Iwaki, Fukushima 2020–Yes
FC Kariya 199911 Kariya, Aichi 2021–Yes
Honda Lock 200514 Miyazaki, Miyazaki 2009–No
Maruyasu Okazaki 20147 Okazaki, Aichi 2014–No
Matsue City FC 20192 Matsue, Shimane 2019–-Yes
MIO Biwako Shiga 200813 Kusatsu, Shiga 2008–Yes
Nara Club 20156 Nara, Nara 2015–Yes
FC Osaka 20156 Higashiosaka, Osaka 2015–Yes
Kochi United SC 20201 Kochi, Kochi 2020-Yes
ReinMeer Aomori 20165 Aomori, Aomori 2016–Yes
Sony Sendai 199922 Miyagi Prefecture 1999–2015No
Suzuka Point Getters 20192 Suzuka, Mie 2019–Yes
FC Tiamo Hirakata 20210 Hirakata, Osaka 2021–Yes
Tokyo Musashino United 199922 Musashino, Tokyo 1999–Yes
Veertien Mie 20174 Kuwana, Mie 2017–Yes
Verspah Oita 20129 Beppu, Ōita 2012–2020Yes

Former clubs

Club NameFirst Season
in JFL
Seasons
in JFL
Home Town(s)Last Spell
in JFL
Last
JFL title
Current League
ALO's Hokuriku 20008 Toyama, Toyama 2000–2007 Defunct, merged into Kataller Toyama
Arte Takasaki 20048 Takasaki, Gunma 2004–2011 Defunct
Azul Claro Numazu 20143 Numazu, Shizuoka 2014–2016 J3
Kyoto BAMB 1993 20004 Kyoto, Kyoto 2000–2004 Kansai League D1
Blaublitz Akita 20077All cities/towns in Akita 2007–2013 J2
Briobecca Urayasu 20162 Urayasu, Chiba 2016–2017 Kantō League D1
Cobaltore Onagawa 20181 Onagawa, Miyagi 2018 Tohoku League D1
Ehime FC 20015All cities/towns in Ehime 2001–20052005J2
Fagiano Okayama 20081All cities/towns in Okayama 2008 J2
Fagiano Okayama Next 20143 Okayama, Okayama 2014–2016 Defunct
Fukushima United 20131 Fukushima, Fukushima 2013 J3
Gainare Tottori 200110All cities/towns in Tottori 2001–20102010J3
FC Gifu 20071All cities/towns in Gifu 2007 J3
Mito HollyHock 19991 Mito, Ibaraki 1999 J2
FC Imabari 20173 Imabari, Ehime 2017–2019 J3
Jatco SC 19995 Numazu, Shizuoka 1999–2003 Defunct
JEF Reserves 20066 Ichihara, Chiba 2006–2011 Defunct
Kagoshima United 20142 Kagoshima, Kagoshima 2014–2015 J3
Kamatamare Sanuki 20113All cities/towns in Kagawa 2011–2013 J3
Kataller Toyama 20081All cities/towns in Toyama 2008 J3
Kokushikan University 19996 Machida, Tokyo 1999–2003 Kantō University League
Mitsubishi Motors Mizushima 20055 Kurashiki, Okayama 2005–2009 Chugoku League
Fujieda MYFC 20122 Fujieda, Shizuoka 2012–2013 J3
New Wave Kitakyushu 20082 Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 2008–2009 J2
Otsuka Pharmaceuticals 19996All cities/towns in Tokushima 1999–20042004J1
Nagano Parceiro 20113 Nagano, Nagano 2011–20132013J3
Profesor Miyazaki 20021All cities/towns in Miyazaki 2002 Defunct
Rosso Kumamoto 20014 Kumamoto, Kumamoto 2006–2007 J3
Renofa Yamaguchi 20141 Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi 2014 J2
FC Ryukyu 20068All cities/towns in Okinawa 2006–2013 J2
Ryutsu Keizai University 20056 Ryugasaki, Ibaraki 2005–2010 Kantō League D1
Ryutsu Keizai Dragons Ryugasaki 20155 Ryugasaki, Ibaraki 2015-2019 Kantō League D1
SC Sagamihara 20131 Sagamihara, Kanagawa 2013 J2
Sagawa Express Osaka 20025 Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka 2002–2006 Defunct, merged into Sagawa Shiga
Sagawa Express Tokyo 20016 Kōtō, Tokyo 2001–2006 Defunct, merged into Sagawa Shiga
Sagawa Shiga 20076 Moriyama, Shiga 2007–20122011Defunct
Shizuoka Sangyo University 20003 Iwata, Shizuoka 2000–2002 Tōkai University League
SP Kyoto FC 200313 Uji, Kyoto 2003–2015 Defunct
Tegevajaro Miyazaki 20183 Miyazaki, Miyazaki 2018–2020 J3
Thespa Kusatsu 20041All cities/towns in Gunma 2004 J2
Tochigi SC 20009 Utsunomiya, Tochigi 2000–2008 J2
Tochigi Uva FC 20108 Tochigi, Tochigi 2010–2017 Kantō League D1
V-Varen Nagasaki 20094All cities/towns in Nagasaki 2009–20122012J2
Vanraure Hachinohe 20145 Hachinohe, Aomori 2014–2018 J3
Matsumoto Yamaga 20102 Matsumoto, Nagano 2010–2011 J2
YKK AP 20017 Kurobe, Toyama 2001–2007 Defunct, merged into Kataller Toyama
Yokohama FC 19992 Yokohama, Kanagawa 1999–20002000J1
YSCC Yokohama 20122 Yokohama, Kanagawa 2012–2013 J3
Machida Zelvia 20094 Machida, Tokyo 2013 J2
Zweigen Kanazawa 20104 Kanazawa, Ishikawa 2010–2013 J2

Championship, promotion and relegation history

Most successful clubs

Clubs in bold compete in JFL as of 2021 season. Clubs in italic no longer exist.

ClubWinnersRunners-upWinning seasonsRunners-up seasons
Honda FC
9
4
2001, 2002, 2006, 2008,
2014, 2016, 2017, 2018,
2019
1999, 2000, 2003, 2004
Sagawa Shiga
3
1
2007, 2009, 20112010
Otsuka Pharmaceuticals
2
1
2003, 20042001
Yokohama FC
2
0
1999, 2000
Nagano Parceiro
1
2
20132011, 2012
Sony Sendai
1
1
20152019
Ehime FC
1
0
2005
Gainare Tottori
1
0
2010
V-Varen Nagasaki
1
0
2012
Verspah Oita
1
0
2020
Sagawa Express Tokyo 022002, 2006
YKK AP
0
1
2005
Rosso Kumamoto
0
1
2007
Tochigi SC
0
1
2008
Tokyo Musashino United
0
1
2009
Kamatamare Sanuki
0
1
2013
SP Kyoto FC
0
1
2014
Vanraure Hachinohe
0
1
2015
Ryutsu Keizai Dragons
0
1
2016
ReinMeer Aomori
0
1
2017
FC Osaka
0
1
2018
Tegevajaro Miyazaki
0
1
2020

Third-tier league: 1999–2013

SeasonChampionsRunners-upPromoted to J2 after the seasonPromoted from Regional Leagues before the seasonRelegated to Regional Leagues after the season
1999 Yokohama F.C. Honda F.C. Mito HollyHock Yokogawa Denki None
2000 Yokohama F.C. Honda F.C. Yokohama FC Tochigi S.C.
Shizuoka Kengyo University F.C.
Alo's Hokuriku
F.C. Kyoken
None
2001 Honda F.C. Otsuka Pharmaceutical F.C. None Sagawa Express Tokyo S.C.
YKK AP F.C.
S.C. Tottori
Ehime F.C.
NTT West Japan-Kumamoto
None
2002 Honda F.C. Sagawa Express Tokyo S.C. None Sagawa Express Osaka S.C.
Profesor Miyazaki
Shizuoka Kengyo University F.C.
Alouette Kumamoto
Profesor Miyazaki
2003 Otsuka Pharmaceutical F.C. Honda F.C. None Sagawa Printing S.C. Jatco F.C. (disbanded)
F.C. Kyoto BAMB 1993 (F.C. Kyoken)
2004 Otsuka Pharmaceutical F.C. Honda F.C. Otsuka (Tokushima Vortis)
Kusatsu
Thespa Kusatsu
Gunma Horikoshi
Kokushikan University F.C. (forced to withdraw due to scandal)
2005 Ehime F.C. YKK AP F.C. Ehime Ryutsu Keizai University F.C.
Mitsubishi Mizushima FC
Honda Lock S.C.
None
2006 Honda F.C. Sagawa Express Tokyo S.C. None JEF United Ichihara Chiba B
Rosso Kumamoto
F.C. Ryukyu
Honda Lock SC
(Sagawa Express Tokyo and Osaka clubs merge to form a single club)
2007 Sagawa Express S.C. Rosso KumamotoKumamoto
Gifu
TDK S.C.
F.C. Gifu
(Alo's Hokuriku and YKK AP merge to form Kataller Toyama)
2008 Honda FC Tochigi SC Tochigi SC
Fagiano Okayama
Kataller Toyama
Fagiano Okayama
New Wave Kitakyushu
MIO Biwako Shiga
None
2009 Sagawa Shiga Tokyo Musashino City New Wave Kitakyushu Machida Zelvia
V-Varen Nagasaki
Honda Lock
Mitsubishi Motors Mizushima (voluntary withdrawal)
FC Kariya
2010 Gainare Tottori Sagawa Shiga Tottori Matsumoto Yamaga
Hitachi Tochigi Uva
Zweigen Kanazawa
Ryutsu Keizai University
2011 Sagawa Shiga Nagano Parceiro Machida
Matsumoto
Kamatamare Sanuki
Nagano Parceiro
JEF Reserves (disbanded)
Arte Takasaki (disbanded)
2012 V-Varen Nagasaki Nagano Parceiro Nagasaki YSCC Yokohama
Fujieda MYFC
Hoyo AC Elan Oita
Sagawa Shiga (disbanded)
2013 Nagano Parceiro Kamatamare Sanuki Sanuki SC Sagamihara
Fukushima United
None
*The following teams were admitted to the new J3 League: Nagano Parceiro, SC Sagamihara, Machida Zelvia, Zweigen Kanazawa, Blaublitz Akita, FC Ryukyu, YSCC Yokohama, Fujieda MYFC and Fukushima United.

Fourth-tier league: 2014–

From 2014 to 2018 the Japan Football League switched to the Apertura and Clausura format to determine the champions. In 2019 the single-table format returned.

SeasonChampionsRunners-upPromoted to J3 after the seasonPromoted from Regional Leagues before the seasonRelegated to Regional Leagues after the season
2014 Honda FC (A) SP Kyoto FC (C) Renofa Yamaguchi Fagiano Okayama Next
Kagoshima United
Vanraure Hachinohe
Azul Claro Numazu
Maruyasu Industries SC
Renofa Yamaguchi
None
2015 Sony Sendai (C) Vanraure Hachinohe (A) Kagoshima United Nara Club
FC Osaka
Ryutsu Keizai Dragons
SP Kyoto FC (disbanded)
2016 Honda FC (C) Ryutsu Keizai Dragons (A) Azul Claro Numazu ReinMeer Aomori
Briobecca Urayasu
Fagiano Okayama Next (disbanded)
2017 Honda FC (1) ReinMeer Aomori (2)None FC Imabari
Veertien Mie
Briobecca Urayasu
Tochigi Uva
2018 Honda FC (1) FC Osaka (2) Vanraure Hachinohe Cobaltore Onagawa
Tegevajaro Miyazaki
Cobaltore Onagawa
2019 Honda FC Sony Sendai FC Imabari Matsue City FC
Suzuka Unlimited
Ryutsu Keizai Dragons
2020 Verspah Oita Tegevajaro Miyazaki Tegevajaro Miyazaki Iwaki FC
Kochi United SC
None
2021 FC Tiamo Hirakata
FC Kariya

A = Apertura champion, C = Clausura champion, 1 = Won both stages, 2 = Earned the second most points total in the overall table if 1 applies.

† Only second half of season was played due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan.

JFL records and statistics

As of Dec. 2020.

In bold the ones who are actually playing in JFL. In italic the ones who are still active in other league.

See also

Soccer/Football
League system
Domestic cup
Futsal
Beach soccer

Related Research Articles

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The 2004 Japan Football League was the sixth season of the Japan Football League, the third tier of the Japanese football league system.

The 2006 Japan Football League was the eighth season of the Japan Football League, the third tier of the Japanese football league system.

The 2007 Japan Football League was the ninth season of the Japan Football League, the third tier of the Japanese football league system.

The 2008 Japan Football League was the tenth season of the Japan Football League, the third tier of the Japanese football league system.

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

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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.

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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.

The 2021 Japan Football League is the eighth season of the fourth tier in Japanese football, and the 23rd season since the establishment of Japan Football League.

References

  1. "リーグ構成". Japan Football League. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Japan Football League Division 2
Third tier of Japanese football
1999–2013
Succeeded by
J3 League