International Centre for
Sports Studies

Avenue DuPeyrou 1
2000 Neuchâtel
Tel +41 32 718 39 00


Thu. 12 December 2013

Challenge League Study - Second study of the Swiss Football League (SFL)

One year after the first study of the Raiffeisen Super League (RSL), the Swiss Football League (SFL) presents a second study of Swiss football. The Challenge League Study, which has been led by the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) Football Observatory confirms the importance of professional football in this league. Indeed, half of the players who play in the RSL have participated many times in the Challenge League.

This second study of Swiss football has been produced by the CIES Football Observatory of Neuchâtel in collaboration with the SFL. and is mainly focused on the Challenge League (BCL). The report introduction presents the geographical evolution of the clubs involved and is then followed by detailed demographic analysis of topics including age profiles, training, and the Swiss origin of second division players.

The study analyses four seasons from 2009/10 to 2012/13. During this short period of time, the average age of BCL players has slightly increased. However, it is still lower than the value observed in the Raiffeisen Super League (24.1 against 25.2 at the end of the period studied). For the season 2012/13, the CIES study revealed that from 8 of the 10 clubs of the BCL, the average player age was between 23 and 25 years old. The exceptions were FC Wohlen where the average age was slightly higher and FC Locarno where it was dramatically lower.

The percentage of players trained by clubs for the four seasons of the BCL was found to be 20%, which is slightly lower than the RSL (between 23.3 and 26.7%). FC Locarno (40.7%) and FC Winterthur (37%) are the two clubs who have invested the most in their own players during the season 2012/13. Finally, the involvement of foreign players has slightly increased (+4.2%) with clubs from Tessin of the BCL significantly training players from abroad and mainly from Italy.

Half of RSL players have competed in the BCL

The Challenge League Study also highlights the role played by the League as the launch pad for some careers. Almost half of the current players of the RSL have played at least once during their career in the BCL (117 players of 248, which represent 47%). FC St-Gall is at the top of the list, with 20 out of their 24 current players who have played in the BCL. FC Will, also from St-Gall, has the highest number of players who played in the BCL and who are now under contract with RSL clubs (21).

In addition, 24 players from the BCL have successfully moved to a foreign professional league, with 15 playing in one of the five great championships of the Old Continent. Also, 8 current players of the Swiss national team have also played at least one season in the BCL, the Swiss second league. This includes high profile players such as Fabian Schär (ex-FC Wil), Innocent Emeghara (FC Winterthur) and Mario Gavranovi? (FC Lugano and Yverdon-Sport).

“The necessity to have a competitive second league”

« For the first time, the study has been able to precisely qualify the role of the Challenge League clubs in the career of the Raiffeisen Super League”, said Raffaele Poli, co-author of the study and Head of the CIES Football Observatory. Claudius Schäfer, Swiss Football League (SFL) CEO said: “Surprisingly, we noticed that half of the current players in the RSL, and not less than 8 international players, consider the BCL as one of the major steps in their career. The results of the study confirm the necessity to have a competitive second league, which enables young talented players to make the key steps towards the next higher level. This study proves that the SFL made the correct decision to reduce the number of Challenge League clubs to 10 in order to improve the quality.”

For further information:


Philippe Guggisberg, Head of Communication

+41 (0)76 582 22 58


CIES – Centre International d’Etude du Sport

Raffaele Poli, Head of CIES Football Observatory

+41 (0)32 718 39 00

BCL_Study_2013_fr.pdf2.05 Mi

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