soccer : why are the highest leagues closed to amateur clubs?

AFAIK, an amateur club cannot join the first and second leagues (maybe even the third, can’t remember) without switching to professionnal status.

Of course, the likelihood of an amateur club managing to reach the first league is absurdly low, but why is it forbidden? What’s the logic behind this rule?

Stretching the definition of highest league about as far as it goes, but Queens Park play in the senior Scottish league setup, and they are completely amateur. They are pretty much a historical anomaly though, being the oldest Scottish club, founded in 1867. They also own Hampden Park, the national stadium.

They have occasionally been in the top division, although not for many years. They’ve also played in a couple of English FA Cup finals.

Is it forbidden?

As far as I know, an amateur team can progress through the leagues, the only proviso being meeting minimum ground capacity/quality requirements.

There is a continuum in soccer from amateur to semi-professional to professional. In Germany for instance, there are three divisions of professional soccer.

Below that level, the sides are officially amateur. In reality, many of the players in the 4th division would be considered at least semi-professional. These teams also more often than not employ full time coaches and other staff.

Basically, it rarely happens that an amateur team is faced with a situation in which they would have make the transition from pure amateur game to professionalism overnight.

When I think “amateur”, I’m thinking of that as meaning “the players are not paid.”

Is that the correct definition in this context?

I’d say that definition would be much too narrow.

As far as I know, even on rather low levels of competition, there is often some sort of monetary incentive involved. Not nearly enough to make a living or even to be considered semi-professional, but still a nice side job.

I don’t think the Liga has such a restriction, but there simply comes a point where players just can’t put in the amount of time and effort needed while keeping another job.

I think I’ve told before the story of that year Tudelano had the chance to move up from their regional division into one where trips would be national. They spent the whole promotion competition doing the closest they could to sitting down on the grass and playing cards - the club did not have the money to pay for their players to drop their regular jobs, trips all over the country (possibly including the Canary Islands) are expensive, take more time and leave the players more tired than a bus trip of 3h/leg max… any player who didn’t drop his other job would have missed days in one or the other, or been too tired to perform properly in either.

Rearrangements on the upper regional divisions tend to cause so much yelling you’d think someone is being butchered, as teams which used to be in a relatively central position in the old arrangement find themselves in the edge of the new one, which means more travel time. Those whose geographical position is better in the new group do their best to look like they haven’t noticed :halo:.

Sometimes you have a professional player in the twilight years of his career playing for a low level side and making a buck or two.

That’s the case with Brazilian striker Aílton who played for 4th and 5th division clubs in Germany. He was obviously out of shape, but still was able to draw considerable crowds who remembered him from his glory days in the Bundesliga.

I don’t know if the higher leagues are in fact closed to amateur clubs (in Britain), but I suspect not. However, the reason you don’t see any amateur clubs in the upper echelons is exactly as stated - the requirements are to do with facilities, and you cannot afford those facilities unless you are a professional club. Facilities start becoming important even at quite low tiers - for example, in my home town (population maybe 30,000 or so) the largest football club has spent some years fencing off their main pitch, building new changing facilities within the perimeter of this fence, building “dug-outs”, etc. They still can’t get promoted to the next division because local regulations forbid the installation of floodlighting. And this is required to get from the 11th tier to the 10th! Each division you climb to has tougher requirements, until you need an all-seater stadium (think that starts from the second tier upwards, though maybe it’s only required for the Premier League?).