One May 25, the DFB will meet for an “extraordinary” virtual Bundestag to discuss the way forward for clubs and regional associations as everyone is dealing with COVID-19. One of the big points of discussion will be a proposed expansion of the 3.Liga, where Bayern Munich II is playing as of this season.
A proposal from the Saarland Football Association would see the the 3.Liga expand from its current structure of a single league with twenty teams into a dual-league system with 36 teams total. The two leagues would be on equal footing and both champions would be promoted to the 2.Bundesliga.
The following Regionalliga clubs have announced their full support of the plan:
- Südwest: SV Elversberg, FC Homburg, SSV Ulm, Kickers Offenbach, FSV Frankfurt, FK Pirmasens, and TSV Steinbach-Haiger
- West: Alemannia Aachen, Rot-Weiss Essen, Rot-Weiß Oberhausen, Bonner SC
- Nordost: VSG Altglienicke, Lokomotiv Leipzig, Energie Cottbus, Berliner AK, BFC Dynamo, Viktoria Berlin, SV Babelsberg
- Bavaria: FC Schweinfurt 05, SpVgg Bayreuth, Viktoria Aschaffenburg
- Nord: Eintracht Norderstedt, Weiche Flensburg, Werder Bremen II, Wolfsburg II
Arguments for the expansion include the ability to promote the winners of all five Regionalliga leagues into the 3.Liga, reduced travel costs, more time for youth players to play, and more ticket sales thanks to more derbies.
However, there are some major obstacles to the plan, including the distribution of television money and the fact that the clubs agreed on the current structure to professionalize the division.
While expending the 3.Liga sounds like a positive thing on paper — hey, Bayern II would probably almost never be relegated back to the Regionalliga Bayern! — it doesn’t make a lot of sense to dilute the quality of the league on a permanent basis. All of the clubs in the Regionalliga in favor of the change support it because they don’t like being in the Regionalliga and would rather be in the 3.Liga to get some of that sweet, sweet TV money.
It may be worth asking whether the Regionalliga should be shrunk from its current number of five leagues down to a smaller number of two or three, to give the teams more competition at that level.