The league is divided into two sections: Saturday and Sunday. This is a result of the traditional pillarisation (verzuiling), the segregation of Dutch society. The Saturday-clubs are by and large Protestant Christian clubs, who were not allowed to play on Sunday. The Sunday-clubs were in general Catholic and working class clubs, whose players had to work on Saturday and therefore could only play on Sunday. Although the pillarisation ended in the 1960s and 1970s, the clubs and the league have maintained this division. The Saturday Hoofdklasse and the Sunday Hoofdklasse are divided into three leagues each:
Clubs in the Saturday Hoofdklasse A and Sunday Hoofdklasse A are from the west of the Netherlands.
Clubs in the Saturday Hoofdklasse B and Sunday Hoofdklasse B are from the central and southern parts of the Netherlands.
Clubs in the Saturday Hoofdklasse C and Sunday Hoofdklasse C are from the northern and eastern part of the Netherlands.
The champions of the Saturday Hoofdklasse A, B and C play against each other for the national Saturday championship, just like the champions of the Sunday Hoofdklasse A, B and C face each other for the national Sunday title. The winners of the Saturday and Sunday championships then face each other for the Hoofdklasse title.
Clubs can be relegated from the Hoofdklasse to the 1e Klasse (First Class) and can be promoted from the 1e Klasse to the Hoofdklasse. The winner of each Hoofdklasse is promoted to the Topklasse (new in 2010-11), and three teams from each Topklasse (six total) are relegated to the Hoofdklasse.
Before this, it was only possible for Hoofdklasse clubs to be admitted to the Eerste Divisie after application and licensing. The last clubs to have done so are FC Omniworld (2005) and AGOVV Apeldoorn (2003).