J2 League

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J2 League
Country Japan
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Founded 1999 (1999)
Number of teams 22
Level on pyramid 2
Promotion to J1 League
Relegation to J3 League
Domestic cup(s) Emperor's Cup
Current champions Consadole Sapporo
(2016)
Most championships Consadole Sapporo
(3 titles)
TV partners SKY PerfecTV!
Website Official Website
2017 J2 League
Former logo

The J2 League (J2リーグ, J2 Rīgu?) is the second division of the Japan Professional Football League (日本プロサッカーリーグ, Nippon Puro Sakkā Rīgu?) and the second-tier professional association football league in Japan. 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. Until the 2014 season it was named the J.League Division 2. Currently, the J2 League is the second level of the Japanese association football league system. The top tier is represented by the J1 League.

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 J3 League.

History

For history of Japanese club football before the inception of the professional league in 1993, see Japan Soccer League.
For detailed history of J1 League, see J1 League#History.

Phases of the 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 playoff 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, non-equal 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 league acquired nine clubs from the semi-professional JFL and one 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 Oita 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 few seasons. In 2004, however, two clubs showed interested as Thespa Kusatsu and Tokushima Vortis were accepted to the league. Two years later, in the 2006 season, Ehime FC followed 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 nation of Japan. 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 have 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:

  • Japan Football League, then the third-tier in 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 F.C., 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-placed 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 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 and third promotion slot, as in the Football League Championship, Serie B, or Segunda División.[1] However, the rules will be heavily slanted to favor those with higher league placement:

  • The team third in the standings will face the sixth placed team, and the fourth placed 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 lower tier (for 2012 season only, Japan Football League; from 2013, J3 League), depending on how that league finished.

Future 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.

Timetable

Year Important 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.
10 2 0
2000 11 2 0
2001 12 2 0
2002
  • Extra time is abolished in Division 2 and traditional 3-1-0 points system is adopted
12 2 0
2003 12 2 0
2004 12 2.5 0
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
12 2.5 0
2006 13 2.5 0
2007 13 2.5 0
2008
  • Two clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Roasso Kumamoto and F.C. Gifu
  • Division 2 adopts the triple-round-robin format from quadruple-round-robin
15 2.5 0
2009 18 3 0
2010
  • One club is promoted from Japan Football League: Giravanz Kitakyushu
  • Division 2 adopts the double-round-robin format from triple-round-robin
19 3 0
2011 20 3 0
2012
  • Matsumoto Yamaga and Machida Zelvia are promoted from Japan Football League [2]
  • 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.
22 3 1
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 Japan Football League.
22 3 0.5
2014
  • Kataller Toyama has been relegated to the J3 League, and Kamatamare Sanuki played and won the first Promotion/Relegation Series with the J3 runners-up. Zweigen Kanazawa becomes the first team to get promoted from J3 League.
22 3 1.5
2015
  • Tochigi SC has been relegated to the J3 League, and Oita Trinita played and lost their first Promotion/Relegation Series with the J3 runners-up. Renofa Yamaguchi and runners-up Machida Zelvia get promoted from J3 League.
22 3 1.5
2016
  • Giravanz Kitakyushu has been relegated to the J3 League, and Zweigen Kanazawa played and won their first Promotion/Relegation Series with the J3 runners-up, Tochigi SC. Oita Trinita is promoted from J3 League.
22 3 1.5
2017
  • Starting this season, the promotion-relegation playoff is defunct and there are two promotions and two relegations.[3]
22 3 2

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 2004 to 2008 season, the third-placed J2 club entered a Promotion/Relegation Series against the sixteenth-placed J1 club, with the winner playing in the top flight in the following year. Starting after the 2009 season, 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.

J3 League is currently the third level in the association football system, supplanting 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 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) were 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 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 remained since then.

2017 season

League formats

Main article: 2017 J2 League

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

  • Goal difference
  • Goals scored
  • Head-to-head results
  • Disciplinary points

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

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

Prize Money
  • First Place: 20,000,000 Yen
  • Second Place: 10,000,000 Yen
  • Third Place: 5,000,000 Yen

Participating clubs (2017)

Locations of the 2017 J2 League teams
Greater Tokyo Area J2 League Teams
Club name Year joined Seasons
in J2
Based in First season
in D2
Seasons
in D2
Current spell
in D2
Last spell in
top flight
Avispa Fukuoka 1996 (J) 13 Fukuoka, Fukuoka 1991/92 17 2017– 2016
Shonan Bellmare 1994 (J) 14 Western cities/towns in Kanagawa 1990/91 18 2017– 2015–2016
Ehime FC 2006 12 All cities/towns in Ehime 2006 12 2006–
Fagiano Okayama 2009 9 All cities/towns in Okayama 2009 9 2009–
FC Gifu 2008 10 All cities/towns in Gifu 2008 10 2008–
Nagoya Grampus 1993 (J) 1 All cities/towns in Aichi 1972 13 2017– 1990–2016
Mito HollyHock 2000 18 Mito, Ibaraki 1997 20 2000–
JEF United Chiba 1993 (J) 8 Chiba & Ichihara, Chiba 2010 8 2010– 1965–2009
Kamatamare Sanuki 2014 4 All cities/towns in Kagawa 2014 4 2014–
Montedio Yamagata 1999 15 All cities/towns in Yamagata 1994 20 2016– 2015
Renofa Yamaguchi 2015 (J3) 2 All cities/towns in Yamaguchi 2016 2 2016–
Roasso Kumamoto 2008 10 Kumamoto, Kumamoto 2008 10 2008–
Kyoto Sanga 1996 (J) 11 Southwestern cities in Kyoto 1972 24 2010– 2008–2010
Thespa Kusatsu 2005 13 All cities/towns in Gunma 2005 13 2005–
Oita Trinita 1999 11 Ōita, Ōita 1996 14 2017– 2013
Tokyo Verdy 1993 (J) 11 Tokyo 1972 17 2009– 2008
Yokohama FC 2001 16 Yokohama, Kanagawa 2001 16 2008– 2007
V-Varen Nagasaki 2013 5 All cities/towns in Nagasaki 2013 5 2013–
Tokushima Vortis 2005 11 All cities/towns in Tokushima 1990/91 19 2015– 2014
Matsumoto Yamaga 2012 5 Central cities/towns in Nagano 2012 5 2016– 2015
Machida Zelvia 2012 2 Machida, Tokyo 2012 3 2016–
Zweigen Kanazawa 2014 (J3) 3 Kanazawa, Ishikawa 2015 3 2015–
  • Gray background denotes club was most recently relegated/demoted from Division 1.
  • Pink background denotes club was most recently promoted from J3 League.
  • "Year joined" is the year the club joined the J.League (Division 2 unless otherwise indicated).
  • "First season in D2," "Seasons in D2," and "Last spell in D2" take into account all past incarnations of second-tier football: the second division of the Japan Soccer League and the former Japan Football League.
  • "Last spell in top flight" includes seasons in the old Japan Soccer League First Division.

Stadiums (2017)

Primary venues used in the J2 League:

Avispa Fukuoka Shonan Bellmare Ehime F.C. Fagiano Okayama Nagoya Grampus Matsumoto Yamaga FC
Level-5 Stadium Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka Ningineer Stadium Kanko Stadium Toyota Stadium Matsumotodaira Football Stadium
Capacity: 22,563 Capacity: 18,500 Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 45,000 Capacity: 20,396
F.C. Gifu Oita Trinita JEF United Ichihara Chiba Montedio Yamagata Kamatamare Sanuki Kyoto Sanga F.C.
Gifu Nagaragawa Stadium Ōita Bank Dome Fukuda Denshi Arena ND Soft Stadium Kagawa Marugame Stadium Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium
Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 40,000 Capacity: 18,500 Capacity: 20,315 Capacity: 30,099 Capacity: 20,588
Mito Hollyhock Roasso Kumamoto Thespakusatsu Gunma Renofa Yamaguchi FC FC Machida Zelvia Tokyo Verdy
K's denki Stadium Mito Umakana Yokana Stadium Shoda Shoyu Stadium Gunma Yamaguchi Ishin Park Stadium Machida Athletic Stadium Ajinomoto Stadium
Capacity: 12,000 Capacity: 32,000 Capacity: 15,253 Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 10,600 Capacity: 49,970
Tokushima Vortis V-Varen Nagasaki Yokohama FC Zweigen Kanazawa
Pocarisweat Stadium Nagasaki Athletic Stadium Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium Ishikawa Kanazawa Stadium
Capacity: 20,441 Capacity: 20,246 Capacity: 15,454 Capacity: 20,000

Former clubs

Club Year
joined
Seasons
in J2
Based in First season
in D2
Seasons
in D2
Last spell
in D2
Current
league
Albirex Niigata 1999 5 Niigata & Seiro, Niigata 1998 6 1998–2003 J1
Omiya Ardija 1999 7 Saitama, Saitama 1987/88 17 2015 J1
Cerezo Osaka 1995 (J) 6 Osaka and Sakai, Osaka 1991/92 10 2015–2016 J1
Consadole Sapporo 1998 (J) 14 All cities/towns in Hokkaido 1978 31 2013–2016 J1
Kawasaki Frontale 1999 5 Kawasaki, Kanagawa 1972 25 2001–2004 J1
Gainare Tottori 2011 3 All cities/towns in Tottori 2011 3 2011–2013 J3
Gamba Osaka 1993 (J) 1 Suita, Osaka 1984 4 2013 J1
Giravanz Kitakyushu 2010 7 Kitakyushu, Fukuoka 2010 7 2010–2016 J3
Júbilo Iwata 1994 (J) 2 Iwata, Shizuoka 1979 6 2014–2015 J1
Kataller Toyama 2009 6 All cities/towns in Toyama 2009 6 2009–2014 J3
Kashiwa Reysol 1995 (J) 2 Kashiwa, Chiba 1987/88 8 2010 J1
Urawa Red Diamonds 1993 (J) 1 Saitama, Saitama 1989/90 2 2000 J1
Shimizu S-Pulse 1993 (J) 1 Shizuoka, Shizuoka 2016 1 2016 J1
Sagan Tosu 1999 13 Tosu, Saga 1997 15 1997–2011 J1
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1993 (J) 2 Hiroshima, Hiroshima 1984 7 2008 J1
FC Tokyo 1999 2 Tokyo 1991/92 10 2011 J1
Tochigi SC 2009 7 Utsunomiya, Tochigi 2009 7 2009–2015 J3
Vegalta Sendai 1999 9 Sendai, Miyagi 1995 13 2004–2009 J1
Ventforet Kofu 1999 11 All cities/towns in Yamanashi 1972 36 2012 J1
Vissel Kobe 1997 (J) 2 Kobe, Hyōgo 1986/87 11 2013 J1
  • Pink background denotes clubs that were most recently promoted to J1 League.
  • Gray background denotes club that was most recently relegated to J3 League.
  • "Year joined" is the year the club joined the J.League (Division 2 unless otherwise indicated).
  • "First season in D2," "Seasons in D2," and "Last Spell in D2" take into account all past incarnations of second-tier football: the second division of the Japan Soccer League and the former Japan Football League

Championship and promotion history

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

Year Champion Runner-Up 3rd Place playoff 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 (3th)
2016 Consadole Sapporo Shimizu S-Pulse
Cerezo Osaka (4th)

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

Most successful clubs

Clubs in bold compete in J2 as of 2017 season.

Club Winners Runners-up Promotions Winning seasons Runners-up seasons Promotion seasons
Consadole Sapporo
3
0
4
2000, 2007, 2016 2000, 2007, 2011, 2016
Kyoto Sanga
2
0
3
2001, 2005 2001, 2005, 2007
Kawasaki Frontale
2
0
2
1999, 2004 1999, 2004
Ventforet Kofu
1
1
3
2012 2010 2005, 2010, 2012
Shonan Bellmare
1
1
3
2014 2012 2009, 2012, 2014
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
1
1
2
2008 2003 2003, 2008
Vegalta Sendai
1
1
2
2009 2001 2001, 2009
Kashiwa Reysol
1
1
2
2010 2006 2006, 2010
FC Tokyo
1
1
2
2011 1999 1999, 2011
Omiya Ardija
1
1
2
2015 2004 2004, 2015
Oita Trinita
1
0
2
2002 2002, 2012
Albirex Niigata
1
0
1
2003 2003
Yokohama FC
1
0
1
2006 2006
Gamba Osaka
1
0
1
2013 2013
Cerezo Osaka
0
2
3
2002, 2009 2002, 2009, 2016
Avispa Fukuoka
0
1
3
2005 2005, 2010, 2015
Vissel Kobe
0
1
2
2013 2006, 2013
Montedio Yamagata
0
1
2
2008 2008, 2014
Urawa Red Diamonds
0
1
1
2000 2000
Tokyo Verdy
0
1
1
2007 2007
Sagan Tosu
0
1
1
2011 2011
Matsumoto Yamaga
0
1
1
2014 2014
Júbilo Iwata
0
1
1
2015 2015
Shimizu S-Pulse
0
1
1
2016 2016
Tokushima Vortis
0
0
1
2013

Promotion playoff results

Season First semi-final (3rd vs 6th) Second semi-final (4th vs 5th) Final
2012 Kyoto Sanga 0–4 Oita Trinita Yokohama FC 0–4 JEF United Chiba Oita Trinita 1–0 JEF United Chiba
2013 Kyoto Sanga 0–0 V-Varen Nagasaki Tokushima Vortis 1–1 JEF United Chiba Kyoto Sanga 0–2 Tokushima Vortis
2014 Not held Júbilo Iwata 1–2 Montedio Yamagata 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
Results
Club Participated Winners Runners-up Seasons
participated
Winning seasons Runner-up seasons
Cerezo Osaka
2
1
1
2015, 2016 2016 2015
Oita Trinita
1
1
0
2012 2012
Tokushima Vortis
1
1
0
2013 2013
Montedio Yamagata
1
1
0
2014 2014
Avispa Fukuoka
1
1
0
2015 2015
JEF United Chiba
3
0
2
2012, 2013, 2014 2012, 2014
Kyoto Sanga
2
0
1
2012, 2013 2013
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

Relegation history

Upon the formation of second division, the league had not implemented any relegation mechanism between J2 and (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-placed 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 has been formed, making relegation between second and third tiers a permanent establishment.

The rules for exchange between J2 and J3 are the following since 2017: the 21st and 22nd-placed J2 teams are relegated immediately and are replaced by J3 champion and runner-up.[3] 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.

Year 21st Place 22nd Place
2012 FC Gifu Machida Zelvia
2013 FC Gifu Gainare Tottori
2014 Kamatamare Sanuki Kataller Toyama
2015 Oita Trinita Tochigi SC
2016 Zweigen Kanazawa Giravanz Kitakyushu

* 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

Year Player Nationality Squad Goals
1999
Takuya Jinno
 Japan
Oita Trinita
19
2000
Emerson Sheik
 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
 Japan
Sanfrecce Hiroshima
28
2009
Shinji Kagawa
Cerezo Osaka
27
2010
Mike Havenaar
Ventforet Kofu
20
2011
Yohei Toyoda
Sagan Tosu
23
2012
Davi
 Brazil
Ventforet Kofu
32
2013
Kempes
JEF United Chiba
22
2014
Masashi Oguro
 Japan
Kyoto Sanga
26
2015
Jay Bothroyd
 England
Júbilo Iwata
20
2016
Jong Tae-se
 North Korea
Shimizu S-Pulse
26

See also

References

External links