The Italian Serie B is the second highest division in Italy. Established in 1929, it is also known as the cadetti, which means ‘juniors’ or ‘cadets’, or campionato cadetto.
The Italian Serie B is comprised of 22 teams. Until the 2002-2003 season it had 20 teams and was stretched to 24 teams for the 2003-2004 season.
In the 2004-2005 season, there have been 22 teams in this division. The Italian Serie A was expanded to 20 teams at the time.
Each team plays the others twice every season, once at home and once away from home, following the round-robin format. The Serie B champion is awarded the cup Ali della Vittoria (Wings of Victory). The trophy is 63 cm high and weighs 5 kg.
At the end of each season,, three teams are promoted from the Italian Serie B to the Italian Serie A while four sides are relegated from the Italian Serie B to the Serie C1.
The top two teams in the Serie B are automatically promoted. If the 3rd-placed team is 10 or more points ahead of the 4th-placed team, it too is automatically promoted. Otherwise things become complicated.
The 3rd through 6th-placed teams enter a playoff tournament to determine the other team that will be promoted. The first round pairs the 3rd-placed team vs the 6th-placed team and the 4th-placed team vs the 5th-placed team in a double-leg series with the higher classified team having home-field advantage in the 2nd leg. The team with the higher aggregate score moves on to the second round. If at the end of regular play in the second leg an aggregate tie exists, the higher classified team moves on (the away goals rule is not used).
The two winners then play in a two-legged ‘final’ under a similar format with the higher-classified team at home in the second leg. The only difference being that if an aggregate tie exists at the end of regular play in the second leg, extra time is played. If the two teams are still tied after thirty minutes, the higher classified team is the one promoted.
As far as relegation from the Serie B is concerned, the three last-placed teams (20th,21st and 22nd) drop down into the Serie C1. If the 18th-placed team is 5 or more points ahead of the 19th-placed team, then the 19th-placed team becomes the 4th and final team to be demoted, otherwise the conditions for a playoff more commonly called playout exist.
If the playout is necessary, the 18th and 19th-placed teams are paired in a two-legged series with home-field advantage in the 2nd leg going to the 18th-placed team. The team with the higher aggregate score remains in Serie B while the loser becomes the fourth team relegated to Serie C1. If an aggregate tie exists at the end of regulation play of the 2nd leg, the 18th-placed team is saved, and the 19th-placed team is demoted.
The Italian Serie B is a very competitive league and is often used by the top Italian clubs as breeding grounds for their young and promising players. Top clubs from the Serie A often loan out their players to Serie B sides in order to give them experience and more playing time.