Serie B or Serie B ConTe.it as it is currently known due to sponsorship reasons, is the second highest division in the Italian football league system, after Serie A. In Italy Serie B is also known by its nicknames campionato cadetto and cadetteria, cadetto in Italy meaning junior or cadet.
Before july 2010 Serie B was organized by Lega Calcio, that previously took care of both the Serie A and Serie B. But after the split of Lega Calcio Serie B is organized by Lega Serie B and Serie A is organized by Lega Serie A. There are 22 clubs in Serie B. Until the season 2002/03 there was 20 teams in the second highest division in the Italian football league system and in season 2003/04 there was 24 teams. Before the season 2004/05 Serie B reverted to 22 teams and Serie A expanded from 18 to 20 teams.
The league system in Serie B is very simple. Each club plays against every other club in the league twice – one time at home and one time away. All 22 teams are fighting for one of the two best places, because first and second place in Serie B guarantees promotion to the Serie A. Every year three clubs from Serie B advance to Serie A and the rules for the third “winner of the jackpot” are very interesting. If the club who finished third in Serie B has 9 or more points ahead of the fourth placed team, it too is automatically promoted. Otherwise, there is a playoff tournament to determine the third club that will be promoted. And since 2013/14 season rules for applying to the playoff tournament changed dramatically. Basically there could be just two clubs in playoff one year and six clubs the next year. Because anywhere between two and six teams within a “playoff margin” (14 points from the third placed team) enters the playoff tournament. So there can be up to three rounds required in playoffs. The final two rounds are two-legged ties, while opening round matches (if required) are single legs, hosted by the higher ranked team. Interestingly if there is a tie at the end of the match (no matter in which round), extra time is played. But if after the extra time score is still tied, there are no penalties assigned but the higher classified team advances.
Every year four clubs are relegated from Serie B. And there are special rules for relegation too. The three lowest placed teams (20th, 21st, 22nd) are automatically demoted to Serie C. And if the 18th placed team is 5 or more points ahead of 19th placed team, then the 19th placed team is automatically demoted too. But if the margin between 18th and 19th team is smaller, then this two teams are playing between themselves for the stay in Serie B. If the score is tied at the end of regulation play of the second leg, the 18th placed team is saved and the 19th placed team is relegated to Serie C.
Number of teams: 22
Level on the pyramid: 2
Domestic cup: Italian Cup (Coppa Italia), Coppa Italia Lega Pro
International Cup: UEFA Europa League (via winning Coppa Italia)
Current champions: Hellas Verona, SPAL, Beneveneto
Transfer window: 3rd January – 31st January and 1st July – 31st August
Number of players: 603
Foreign players: 149
Serie B matches are usually played on Saturday. In one season all games were played on Saturday but now the league is again scheduling one game on Friday – called anticipo (the advanced game), and one game that is played on Monday – called posticipo (the post-dated game). The games are also played on several Tuesdays, because there are 42 rounds. If Serie A is off, Serie B games are played also on Sundays.
For the last 10 years the winner of Serie B is awarded the cup, that is named Ali della Vittoria (Wings of Victory). The trophy is 63 cm high and weighs 5 kg. Its structure represents the wings of the goddess Nike, the goddess of victory, holding a cup similar to an olympic flame.
Interestingly, there is only one club in Italy that has never been relegated to the Serie B. And that club is Inter. Every other big Italian club has played in Serie B. Even Juventus, Milan, Roma, Lazio and Torino. Two teams have won Serie B six times, both playing in Serie A this year – Genoa and Atalanta. Palermo has won it five times. The most seasons in Serie B by far has Brescia. They played 59 seasons in second tier of Italian football league system, Verona played 52 seasons, Modena 50 and Bari 45.
The current Serie B champion is SPAL who of course is playing in Serie A this season.
Football, played in Serie B is pure Italian. Meaning, teams are concentrating on defence. There is a lot of tactics and not that much of technical plays. Some clubs have very high budget and roster with some very good and expensive players. Carpi and Verona for example has teams, worth 24 million euros. The most expensive player in Serie B is a goalkeeper, Francesco Bardi, who plays for Frosinone on loan from Inter. Few years ago Bardi was one of the biggest Italian talents, now he is worth 3.5 million euros. 3.5 million euros is also estimated value of Romulo from Verona.
There are almost 25% of foreign players playing in Serie B, most from Brazil and Ghana (11 each), Uruguay (9) and Croatia (8). Even though the average age of players in Serie B is 25.3 years, there are a lot of talented, young players, playing in Serie B. The best Italian clubs (from Serie A) are loaning their young talents to Serie B teams for the purpose of getting some experience so the games in Serie B are normally very interesting and we can see high quality football.
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