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The Belgian third league (Dutch: Derde class, French: Division III) was the third highest league in Belgian football. It had two leagues, each with 18 teams (A and B) at the same level. This competition, originally known as the Belgian Promotion (Dutch: Vordering), was first held in the 1926/27 season with three leagues and then four leagues between 1931 and 1952. From 1952 only two leagues remained and the competition was named Third Division. Originally set to 16 clubs, the number of clubs in each division was increased in 2009 to 18 clubs. At the end of regular time both league winners rose to the second division and it was played a play-off to determine a possible third club for the rise. The champions of the third division was determined after a two-legged match between the winners of the two leagues. When these games ended in a draw, a third game was played on neutral ground. In recent years, however, this endgame has not been organized due to lack of interest. In 2016, the Belgian Third Division was replaced by the Belgian Second Amateur Division.
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The competition consisted of the regular season (two leagues with 18 teams, 34 games each), followed by the play-off of the third league (7 teams, 3 games). Each team played in the regular season (from August to May) 34 games. The regular season was divided into 3 periods, the first period consisted of the first 10 matchdays, the second period consisted of the next 12 matchdays and the third period consisted of the last 12 matchdays. For each period in each league, a leaderboard has been calculated in the same way as the total league ranking (three points for a win, one point for a draw and no point for a defeat). In each league, the winner of the regular season rose to the second division, and the two worst placed teams (17th and 18th) descended into the Belgian fourth division. The 16th placed had to play the promotion playoff with teams from the promotion playoff (see promotion playoff of the 4th Division).
The three winners of each league qualify together with the 16th place in the second division for the play-off of the third division. If the league winner also won one or more periods, or a period winner won more than one period, finished in the last three places, or did not receive a second-league license, the best-placed teams in the league standings for the game-off qualify for 3 Teams in each league qualify. The playoff was played in three rounds. In the first round, the six qualifiers of the third division were drawn in three games in two games draw. The winners of the first round and the 16th team from the second division entered the second round (2 games on two legs). The last round was also played in two legs. The winner qualified for the second division. In each round, the away-goal rule was used to determine the winner in the case of an overall winner. If each team had scored the same number of away goals, the teams played an extension of two 15-minute periods. If there was still a draw, the away goals rule was reapplied. Finally, the games went to penalties.
As part of the changes in the Belgian league system, which were introduced in 2016, when the third division was renamed Second Amateur Division, the 2015/16 season counted 37 teams (one league has 19 and the other 18) and the division was under contract taken to 16 teams. The three-tier leaderboards and career upgrades between the third and fourth division teams have been canceled. The 7th to 17th (or 18th) placer in each group remained in the division, which is referred to as the Belgian second amateur division and now lies on the fourth level of the Belgian football pyramid, while the last placer in the new fifth level named Belgian third Descent Amateur Division.
Starting in the 2016/17 season, the Belgian First Amateur Division consists of nine teams relegated from the Belgian Second Division 2015/16, the champions and vice-champions of each group of the Third Division 2015/16 and three winners of a qualifying playoff from 3 to 6th place teams contested. These teams must meet technical and administrative criteria.
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