In 2004, J. League introduced a series of two test match called League between the sixteenth-place J. Division 1 (J1) club and third-place J.league Division 2 (J2) club. The winner of this game receives the third and final ticket to J1 in the following season, with the first two going to the first- and second-place J2 teams at the end of the season.
Prior to 2004, promotions and relegations involved the two bottom J1 clubs (15th place & 16th place) and two top J2 club (1st & 2nd places). At the end of the 2004 season, J1 expanded from 16 clubs to 18 clubs. Due to the expansion, the league promoted the top two teams in J2 to J1 without any relegations. The league also instituted a new playoff game that allowed the 3rd-place J2 club to challenge the 16th (and at the time, last- ) placed J1 club for a berth in J1 in the 2005 season. This was the start of this Promotion/Relegation Series. After the expansion, the league went back to their standard promotion and relegation system (17th & 18th in J1 switching places with 1st & 2nd in J2), but the Promotion/Relegation Series continued. The final series is the 2008 edition, as this is the final year J2 will have been composed of fewer than 18 teams. From 2009, direct promotion and relegation will be in place for three clubs of each division.
The irekae-sen concept is not new; it was a feature of the original Japan Soccer League, when, until 1980, it was usual that the bottom two team(s) in the First... Read More