Fixtures

DateRHome vs Away-
05/21 04:00 17 Roasso Kumamoto vs JEF Utd Chiba View
05/21 05:00 17 Tokushima Vortis vs Tochigi SC View
05/21 05:00 17 Blaublitz Akita vs Tokyo Verdy View
05/21 05:00 17 Omiya Ardija vs Vegalta Sendai View
05/21 05:00 17 Albirex Niigata vs Yokohama FC View
05/21 05:00 17 Zweigen Kanazawa vs Montedio Yamagata View
05/21 07:00 17 Mito Hollyhock vs Grulla Morioka FC View
05/21 09:00 17 Fagiano Okayama vs Oita View
05/21 10:00 17 FC Ryukyu vs Ventforet Kofu View
05/22 05:00 17 Machida Zelvia vs Thespa Kusatsu View
05/22 05:00 17 Renofa Yamaguchi vs V-Varen Nagasaki View
05/25 09:00 18 Grulla Morioka FC vs Yokohama FC View

Results

Date R Home vs Away -
05/18 10:00 15 [20] Omiya Ardija vs Grulla Morioka FC [22] 0-1
05/15 06:00 16 [18] JEF Utd Chiba vs Blaublitz Akita [15] 0-1
05/15 05:00 16 [4] Fagiano Okayama vs Thespa Kusatsu [17] 0-1
05/15 05:00 16 [13] Machida Zelvia vs Albirex Niigata [1] 2-1
05/15 05:00 16 [2] Vegalta Sendai vs Zweigen Kanazawa [14] 4-1
05/15 05:00 16 [3] Yokohama FC vs Tokushima Vortis [9] 2-1
05/14 10:00 16 [22] FC Ryukyu vs Tochigi SC [19] 1-0
05/14 06:00 16 [6] Tokyo Verdy vs Mito Hollyhock [18] 0-2
05/14 05:00 16 [13] V-Varen Nagasaki vs Omiya Ardija [20] 0-0
05/14 05:00 16 [7] Ventforet Kofu vs Renofa Yamaguchi [11] 1-1
05/14 05:00 16 [9] Oita vs Roasso Kumamoto [14] 1-2
05/14 04:00 16 Grulla Morioka FC vs Montedio Yamagata PPT.

Wikipedia - J2 League

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). Until the 2014 season it was named the J.League Division 2.

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.[] 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 and starting in 2018, the J2 playoffs winner plays against the 16th-placed J1 club after discussions were held during the prior season. 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

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
  • Mito HollyHock is promoted from Japan Football League
11 2 0
2001
  • Yokohama FC is promoted from Japan Football League
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
  • Inception of the two-legged Promotion/Relegation Series as the top flight expands to 18 clubs in the following season
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
  • Ehime FC is promoted from Japan Football League
  • Away goals rule is adopted in Promotion/Relegation Series
  • The league forms J.League expansion committee and reintroduces J.League Associate Membership
13 2.5 0
2007 13 2.5 0
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
15 2.5 0
2009
  • Three clubs are promoted from Japan Football League: Tochigi SC, Kataller Toyama and Fagiano Okayama
  • Promotion/Relegation Series is eliminated and the third-place club now receives automatic promotion to J1
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
  • One club is promoted from Japan Football League: Gainare Tottori
20 3 0
2012
  • Matsumoto Yamaga and Machida Zelvia are promoted from Japan Football League
  • 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 the Japan Football League.
22 3 0.5
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.
22 3 1.5
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.
22 3 1.5
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.
22 3 1.5
2017
  • Starting this season, there are two promotions from and two relegations to J3.
  • Thespakusatsu Gunma is relegated to J3, Tochigi SC is promoted.
22 3 2
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
22 2.5 2
2019
  • Kagoshima United and FC Gifu are relegated, Giravanz Kitakyushu and Thespakusatsu Gunma are promoted from J3
22 2.5 2
2020
  • No relegations from J2. Blaublitz Akita and SC Sagamihara are promoted from J3
22 2 0
2021
  • SC Sagamihara, Ehime FC, Giravanz Kitakyushu, and Matsumoto Yamaga are relegated, Roasso Kumamoto and Iwate Grulla Morioka are promoted from J3
22 2 4
2022 22 2.5 2