Topklasse (Top Class) is the proposed new third tier of
football in the Netherlands. The league, which is intended to start in 2009, would be placed between the Eerste Divisieand the Hoofdklasse. [cite news|url=http://www.voetbalprimeur.nl/index.php?t=news&id=52637&c=4|title=KNVB wil topklasse in amateurvoetbal|publisher=Voetbalprimeur.nl|date= 2007-06-09|accessdate=2007-11-15|language=Dutch] The details are currently the subject of discussions between the Royal Netherlands Football Association, the "Coöperatie Eerste Divisie" (the clubs in the Eerste Divisie) and the "Centraal Overleg Hoofdklassers" (the clubs in the Hoofdklasse).
A national football competition in the Netherlands was established in
1956. Prior to that, the districts of the Dutch football association held their own competitions, and the champions of these competitions faced each other for the national title. The highest national division in the new league structure became the Eredivisie, followed by the Eerste Divisieand the Tweede Divisie. The Tweede Divisiewas disbanded in 1971; six clubs were promoted to the Eerste Divisie(champions De Volewijckersalong with FC Eindhoven, VVV, Fortuna Vlaardingen, PEC and Roda JC), while the remaining ten clubs became amateur clubs. The Eerste Divisie subsequently became the lowest league in professional football in the Netherlands
The amateur football clubs had a separate league system, the highest league of which was the "Eerste Klasse" (later:
Hoofdklasse). There was no promotion and relegationbetween professional football and amateur football; a professional football club could only drop to the amateur leagues if its licence for professional football was revoked, while an amateur football club could only be promoted after application and meeting a number of criteria.
The calls for a "Topklasse" largely stem from a professionalization of amateur football clubs in the Netherlands in recent years, in the sense that many players of
Hoofdklasseclubs now receive a salary.cite news|url=http://zoek.volkskrant.nl/artikel?text=ijsselmeervogels&FDOC=0&SORT=presence&PRD=20y&SEC=%2A&SO=%2A&DAT=%2A&ADOC=9|title=‘Kesler heeft geen idee wat amateurvoetbal inhoudt’|author=Robert Missèt|publisher= de Volkskrant|page=17|date= 2007-06-18|accessdate=2007-11-15|language=Dutch] This has closed the gap between the top of the Hoofdklasse and the bottom of the Eerste Divisie. Chairman of the Dutch football association Henk Keslerhas therefore repeatedly called for the creation of the Topklasse, which would establish promotion and relegation between professional and amateur football, creating a league pyramid akin to the English football league system.
The first plans for a Topklasse were rejected by the Eerste Divisie clubs in
1999. [cite news|url=http://archief.nrc.nl/?modus=l&text=kesler+topklasse&hit=5&set=2|title=Clubs eerste divisie dwarsbomen Topklasse|author=Erik Oudshoorn|publisher= NRC Handelsblad|page=11|date= 1999-06-01|accessdate=2007-11-15|language=Dutch]
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