Level on pyramid 4
Current champions Viterbese (2015–16)
Number of teams 162
Relegation to Eccellenza
Most championships Robur Siena (2 titles)
Current champion A.S. Viterbese Calcio
Promotion to Lega Pro
Domestic cup Coppa Italia Serie D
|Teams USD Cavese 1919, Unione Triestina 2012 SS, SS Sambenedettese Calcio, Aurora Pro Patria 1919, SS Robur Siena|
Serie D ([ˈsɛːrje ˈdi]) is the top level of the Italian non-professional football association called Lega Nazionale Dilettanti. The association represents over twelve thousand football players and four hundred football teams across Italy. Serie D ranks just below Lega Pro (the 3rd and last professional league since 2014–15), and is thus considered the 4th ranked league in the country. It is organized by the Roman Comitato Interregionale (Interregional Committee), a "league in the league" inside the LND.
When in 1948 the three leagues running Division 3 (Serie C) had to be reorganized due to an ever growing number of regional teams joining, FIGC decided not to relegate the exceeding teams to regional championships. It chose the winners and a few runners-up from the 36 Serie C championships to be added to the new third division set up into 4 groups. The rest of the teams attended the new Promozione which changed name in 1952 into Quarta Serie (Fourth Division) and then in 1959 into Serie D.
From 1959 each player attending the Serie D championships had to opt for semi-professional status by signing a specially issued status attribution form. The championship was so included in the Lega Nazionale Semiprofessionisti, today known as Lega Pro. Serie D had to be re-organized in 1981 when championships had to be reduced so that league name changed too into the new name Interregionale and players lost semi-pro status and converted to amateurs. The championship consequently passed into the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti. From 1992 to 1999 had the name changed into Campionato Nazionale Dilettanti before eventually returning to the current Serie D name. With the merger of the Lega Pro's two divisions at the end of the 2013–14 season (as decided by the FIGC and Lega Pro in November 2012) to reestablish Serie C, Serie D and the leagues below it will move up by one level in the pyramid system, reducing the number of leagues in Italian football to nine.
Since the early 1990s, Serie D has consisted of 162 teams split into 9 regional divisions (Gironi), usually formed of 18 teams each divided geographically.
For the 2012–13 season, the teams were 166 and two groups (B and C) were formed of 20 teams; in the 2013–14 season the number was 161 and one group (H) was formed of 17 teams. For 2014–15 their distribution by region is as follows:
The first-placed team from each division is promoted to Lega Pro each year, and replaces one of the 9 teams from Lega Pro that is relegated down to Serie D.
If a newly promoted Serie D team fails to meet the requirements, Lega Pro asks the second-placed team in that Serie D team's division to fill the vacancy. Failing that, even the third-placed team may fill the vacancy, and so on.
In recent years, one or more teams from the senior leagues from Serie A down to Lega Pro Seconda Divisione failed to meet the regulatory or financial requirements to remain there. These vacancies were usually announced in the summer rest period as the new season was being organized. As teams moved up to fill the void created by these failed teams, spaces were created in Lega Pro Seconda Divisione that needed to be filled.
For example, in the 2007-08 season there were nine such failures, and thus, nine Lega Pro Seconda Divisione spaces were created. Four of those spaces were filled by calling back teams that had played in Seconda Divisione but were relegated to Serie D for the next season. The other five vacancies were filled by Serie D teams that had participated in the Serie D playoffs.
Playoffs are held after the regular season is over and involve teams placed second through fifth in each division. The first two rounds are single game elimination matches played at the home of the higher-classified team. Games ending in ties are extended to extra time. New for 2007-08, if games are still tied after extra time, the higher classified team is declared the winner. No penalty kicks are taken.
In round one, for each division, the 5th-placed team is matched against the 2nd-placed team, and the 4th-placed team is matched against the 3rd-placed team. Round 2 matches the two winners. At the end of round 2, one team from each division survives. The nine winners are grouped into 3 groups of three and play each team in their own group once (one at home and one away). The three group winners qualify for the play-off semi-finals. New for 2007-08, the Coppa Italia Serie D winner qualifies for the 4th semi-final spot. The semi-finals are a two-legged tie, with the winners qualifying for a one-game final match played at a neutral site.
The playoff results provide the league with a list from which it may choose teams to fill vacancies in Seconda Divisione. In 2007-08, the top 5 placed play-off teams were selected to fill vacancies, however, in 2006-07, no team was needed to fill vacancies.
After the regular season is complete, teams placed 6th-last through to 3rd-last in each division play a double-leg series (6th-last vs 3rd-last, 5th-last vs 4th-last) where the winners remain in Serie D the following season and the two losers are also relegated to Eccellenza, a regional amateur league below this, for a total of 4 relegations in each division, 36 in total for the league.
There are no play-out if the difference between 6th-last vs 3rd-last and that between 5th-last vs 4th-last is bigger than eight points.
Serie D does not use head-to-head results to order teams that are tied in points in certain situations, single-game tie-breakers are held at neutral sites instead. Those situations are the following:
Head-to-head results are used in all other situations, such as when all the teams involved are qualified in the promotional playoffs, or all teams are participating in the relegation playoffs.
Scudetto Serie D
Each year, at the end of the regular season, the winners of the nine Serie D divisions qualify for a championship tournament in order to assign the so-called Scudetto Dilettanti (amateur champions' title).
Round one divides the nine teams into three groups of three teams each where each team plays a single game against each of its other two opponents. The three group winners and best second-placed team advance to the semifinals.
The first scudetto dilettanti was assigned in 1952–1953, when the Serie D was still called IV Serie (fourth division). Its assignment was suspended from 1958–1959 to 1991–1992.