Bundesliga - official website & latest news
Bundesliga 
The Bundesliga is composed of two divisions: the 1. Bundesliga (although it is rarely referred to with the First prefix), and, below that, the 2. Bundesliga (Second Bundesliga), which has been the second tier of German football since 1974. The Bundesligen (plural) are professional leagues. Since 2008, the 3. Liga (3rd League) in Germany is also a professional league, but may not be called Bundesliga because the league is run by the German Football Association (DFB) and not, as are the two Bundesligen, by the German Football League (Deutsche Fußball-Liga or DFL).

Below the level of the 3rd league, leagues are generally often subdivided on a regional basis. For example, the Regionalligen are currently made up of Nord (North), Nordost (Northeast), Süd (South), Südwest (Southwest) and West divisions. Below this are thirteen parallel divisions, most of which are called Oberligen (upper leagues) which represent federal states or large urban and geographical areas. The levels below the Oberligen differ between the local areas. The league structure has changed frequently and typically reflects the degree of participation in the sport in various parts of the country. In the early 1990s, changes were driven by the reunification of Germany and the subsequent integration of the national league of East Germany.

Every team in the two Bundesligen must have a licence to play in the league, or else they are relegated into the regional leagues. To obtain a licence, teams must be financially healthy and meet certain standards of conduct as organisations.

As in other national leagues, there are significant benefits to being in the top division:

A greater share of television broadcast licence revenues goes to 1. Bundesliga sides.
1. Bundesliga teams draw significantly greater levels of fan support. Average attendance in the first league is 42,673 per game — more than twice the average of the 2. Bundesliga.
Greater exposure through television and higher attendance levels helps 1. Bundesliga teams attract the most lucrative sponsorships.
1. Bundesliga teams develop substantial financial muscle through the combination of television and gate revenues, sponsorships and marketing of their team brands. This allows them to attract and retain skilled players from domestic and international sources and to construct first-class stadium facilities.
The 1. Bundesliga is financially strong, and the 2. Bundesliga has begun to evolve in a similar direction, becoming more stable organizationally and financially, and reflecting an increasingly higher standard of professional play.


Borussia Dortmund against rivals Schalke, known as the Revierderby, in the Bundesliga in 2009
Internationally, the most well-known German clubs include Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, Hamburger SV, VfB Stuttgart, Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen. Hamburger SV is the only team to have played continuously in the Bundesliga since its foundation.

In the 2008–09 season, the Bundesliga reinstated an earlier German system of promotion and relegation, which had already been in use from 1981 until 1991:

The bottom two finishers in the Bundesliga are automatically relegated to the 2. Bundesliga, with the top two finishers in the 2. Bundesliga taking their place.
The third-from-bottom club in the Bundesliga will play a two-legged match with the third-place team from the 2. Bundesliga, with the winner taking up the final place in the following season's Bundesliga.
From 1992 until 2008, a different system had been used in which the bottom three finishers of the Bundesliga had been automatically relegated, to be replaced by the top three finishers in the 2. Bundesliga. From 1963 until 1981 two respectively three teams had been relegated from the Bundesliga automatically, while promotion had been decided either completely or partially in promotion play-offs.

The season starts in early August and lasts until late May, with a winter break of six weeks (mid-December through to the end of January). In recent years, games have been played on Saturdays (five games beginning at 3:30 pm and one game beginning at 6:30 pm) and Sundays (one game beginning at 3:30 pm and one game at 5:30 pm). A new television deal in 2006 reintroduced a Friday game (beginning at 8:30 pm).
Bundesliga - official website

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