With the 2022/23 German football season coming to an end, how is the Bundesliga Promotion and Relegation decided?


By far the most crucial area of the Bundesliga is the fight for survival at the bottom.  After 34 matches it will be decided which clubs finish in the bottom three positions.  Matchday 34 takes place on Saturday 27th May with all matches being played simultaneously at the traditional 15.30 kick-off time in Germany (14.30 UK Time).

Bundesliga Promotion and Relegation

The two clubs which finish in the bottom two positions, 17th and 18th, will be automatically relegated.  The team in 16th enters a play-off which we will cover shortly.

After matchday 31 of 34 was completed at the weekend, the two clubs at the bottom are Hertha Berlin (18th) and Bochum (17th).  Hertha Berlin are on 25 points yet can still finish outside the bottom three.  If they were able to finish third from bottom in 16th, they still have a chance to stay up via a play-off.

This is how the league table looks:

Bundesliga Table

League table correct as of 09/05/2023. Courtesy of Fotmob.

Below are the fixtures which remain for each of the clubs fighting relegation:

Remaining Fixtures – Hertha Berlin

Koln v Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin v Bochum

Wolfsburg v Hertha Berlin

Hertha Berlin badge

Hertha Berlin are currently bottom of the Bundesliga

Remaining Fixtures – Bochum

Bochum v Augsburg

Hertha Berlin v Bochum

Bochum v Bayer Leverkusen

bochum logo

Remaining Fixtures – Stuttgart

Stuttgart v Bayer Leverkusen

Mainz v Stuttgart

Stuttgart v Hoffenheim

VfB Stuttgart logo

Relegation Play-Off

The team which finishes in 16th position could also be relegated from The Bundesliga.  Currently occupying that position is Stuttgart.  Whichever club is in that position following matchday 34 will face a two-legged play-off versus the team which finishes in third place in Bundesliga 2.  The 1st leg of the play-off is scheduled to take place on Thursday 1st June with the Bundesliga Club at home.  The 2nd leg, hosted by the Bundesliga 2 club, will take place on Monday 5th June.

Last season the play-off saw Hertha Berlin dramatically retain their top-flight status with a 2-0 victory at Hamburg (who had finished third in Bundesliga 2) and 2-1 on aggregate.  This season they may not even get that chance.

Mercedes-Benz Arena

The Mercedes-Benz Arena could host a relegation play-off.

Promotion To The Bundesliga

In Bundesliga 2 there are two automatic promotion spots.  After matchday 34 on the 28th May the two teams in first and second will go up to The Bundesliga.  The team in 3rd place will enter the play-off as mentioned above.

Darmstadt can clinch the title with one win from their final three matches whilst it is really Heidenheim and Hamburg battling it out for that second automatic spot.  Hamburg would currently, again, contest the Playoff against the team which finishes 16th in the Bundesliga

Bundesliga 2 Promotion

League Table correct as of 09/05/2023. Courtesy of FotMob.

Promotion from 3 Liga to Bundesliga 2

The rules are very similar when you move down the ladder.  3Liga is the 3rd tier of football in Germany and the same rules apply in that the top two teams after matchday 38 gain automatic promotion into Bundesliga 2.  The third placed team will compete against the team third from bottom (16th) in Bundesliga 2 over two legs.

Currently Elversberg look certainties for automatic promotion.  With Freiburg II not able to be promoted (see below exceptions) then Dynamo Dresden would currently also be automatically promoted.

How to get promoted from 3Liga

League table correct as of 09/05/2023. Courtesy of FotMob.

Promotion/Relegation between Regionalliga and 3Liga

This is where things get a little more complex.  However let’s start with the simple part – the bottom FOUR placed teams in 3Liga (that’s 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th) are automatically relegated into Regionalliga. No play-offs just a simple downward move.

The fourth tier of German football is then split geographically into five leagues – Sudwest, Nordost, Nord, West and Bayern.

Each year the promotion rules vary with some league winners going up automatically and some entering a play-off versus other leagues.  At the end of the 2022/23 season the winners of Sudwest, West and Nord will be automatically promoted.  The winners of Bayern League and Nordost league will contest a promotion playoff for the fourth promotion spot.

In the Nord league, HSV II currently sit top however they have decided that due to the cost of entry into the next tier that Hamburg reserves would remain in the fourth tier.  This means that Lubeck are champions already with 70pts and are promoted back into 3Liga!  The second team to go up already is Munster who have clinched the West league title.  In Sudwest it is Ulm who currently sit top but with only a 3pt cushion.


There are however some rules which may affect who gains promotion and which teams participate in the Playoffs.  In Germany many clubs have a reserve team and they are not allowed to participate in the top two leagues.

In the current 2022/23 season Freiburg II currently occupy second place in 3.Liga.  Due to the rule, third placed Dynamo Dresden would leapfrog them into an automatic promotion spot.  Wiesbaden, who sit 4th, would be elevated into third, the playoff position.

It is sure to be a pulsating end to the season in every league!