On the 8th of September 2006, the introduction of the 3. Liga was announced. The league aimed to create a great performance density with better support and development opportunities for talented players. Half of the clubs from the Regionalliga North and South were able to qualify for the first season. In addition to that, four relegated teams from the 2. Bundesliga would play in the 3. Liga. The first match of the 3. Liga was played on the 25th of July 2008 between Rot-Weiß Erfurt and Dynamo Dresden. The first champion of the 3. Liga was 1. FC Union Berlin. The 3. Liga contains 20 clubs. The first two teams are promoted directly, the third in the table must play for promotion against the third from the bottom of the 2. Bundesliga. The bottom four teams are relegated directly to one of the five Regionalligen. Until 2018, three were relegated.
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