The Eredivisie is the highest league of professional football in the Netherlands. The league was founded in 1956, two years after the start of professional football in the Netherlands.
The top division consists of 18 clubs. Each club meets every other club twice during the season, once at home and once away. At the end of each season, the club at the bottom is automatically relegated to the second level of the Dutch league system, the Jupiler League (First Division). At the same time, the champion of the First Division will be automatically promoted to the Eredivisie. The next two clubs from the bottom of the Eredivisie go to separate promotion / relegation play-offs.
The play-offs are played in two groups. Each group has one Eredivisie club and three high-placed clubs from the Eerste Divisie. In both promotion/relegation play-off groups, each club plays a home-and-away series with the other clubs. The winner of each play-off group plays in the following season's Eredivisie, with the other teams going to the First Division.
Since the start of the Eredivisie, it has built up a worldwide reputation as one of the more respected and most entertaining football leagues to watch. With fans who love watching football and a country that is full of football fanatics, the Eredivisie with its offensive minded football is loved throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Furthermore, it has been viewed as a famous place for talented youth to come and make a name for themselves and be able to take the next step in their careers.
In the first season of the Eredivisie (1956), PSV player Coen Dillen wrote history by scoring the most goals in one season by a single player (43 goals). This record still stands to this day. His team however, didn’t win the championship, it was Ajax who became the Eredivisie’s first champions. Since then Ajax has managed to win the title 33 times, while PSV falls in second with 23 and Feyenoord comes in third with a total of 14 championships.
These three teams would dominate the Dutch football competition for years and are known as the ‘traditional top three’. In fact, between 1981 and 2009 no other team would win besides these three. In 2009, AZ Alkmaar put an end to this trend. The following year FC Twente would win their first championship every, once again beating out one of the ‘traditional top three’ of the Eredivisie.
Made in the Eredivisie
All around the world, the Eredivisie is known for their training programs and youth development of international top players as well as coaches. The success of Dutch football clubs is directly related to their player development and the opportunity they’re able to give young talent to better themselves and make a name for themselves on a bigger stage. Thanks to the Eredivisie’s focus and devotion to youth talent, many Dutch players throughout history have been able to play at the top of the international stage.
These players include but are not limited to Johan Cruijff, Johan Neeskens, Willem van Hanegem, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Ronald Koeman, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, Philip Cocu, Frank de Boer, Jaap Stam, Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf, Mark van Bommel, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Rafael van der Vaart, Dirk Kuijt and Robin van Persie. As mentioned before there have also been many successful coaches to come out of the Eredivisie, like, Louis van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard, Guus Hiddink and Bert van Marwijk.
Dutch internationals are not the only players to come out of the Eredivisie and realize their potential on the world’s biggest stages. Players like Romario, Ronaldo, Nwanko Kanu, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Henrik Larsson, Jari Litmanen, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Maxwell, Alex, Luis Suarez, Christian Eriksen, Memphis Depay en Arek Milik where all attracted to the Eredivisie, and used the League as a stepping stone to become the players they ended up being.