Azerbaijan Premier League

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Azerbaijan Premier League
Azerbaijan Premier League.png
Country Azerbaijan
Confederation UEFA
Founded 1992; 22 years ago (1992)
Number of teams 10
Levels on pyramid 1
Relegation to Azerbaijan First Division
Domestic cup(s) Azerbaijan Cup
Azerbaijan Supercup
International cup(s) UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
Current champions Qarabağ (2 titles)
(2013–14)
Most championships Neftchi Baku (8 titles)
TV partners AzTV, Idman Azerbaijan TV
Website http://www.pfl.az
2014–15 Azerbaijan Premier League

The Azerbaijan Premier League (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Premyer Liqası), currently named Topaz Premyer Liqası after its main sponsor, is the top tier in Azerbaijani club football. The league is contested by 12 teams, in which the season runs from August to May. The winner gets a second round play off spot in the UEFA Champions League.

The Azerbaijan Premier League was organized in 2007 and succeeded the Top Division (Azerbaijani: Yüksək Liqa), the difference being that the Top Division was run by the Professional Football League of Azerbaijan, and the creation of the Premier League gave the clubs a greater degree of independence. The Top Division had existed from 1992 to 2007.

Since 1992, a total of 8 clubs have been crowned champions of the Azerbaijani football system. The current champions are Qarabağ, who won the title in the 2013-14 season.

History[edit]

The 1990s[edit]

The league were dominated by teams like Neftchi Baku, Kapaz, Turan Tovuz and Shamkir. However, financial struggles had bad impact on local clubs and most teams such as Khazri Buzovna, Shamkir, Vilash Masalli and Shafa Baku went bust due increasing debts.[1] In 1997, Kapaz were known for their unbeaten run as club's final record for the 1997–1998 league campaign stood at 22 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses, out of 26 games total, an unbeaten run not matched in any single season by any team in an Azerbaijani league division.[2]

The 2000s[edit]

As league entered a new century, the Neftchi Baku found themselves facing new challengers. They were challenged by emerging Khazar Lankaran, Inter Baku and Baku in both competitions. The country's football received major blow in 2002, when UEFA imposed a two-year ban in response to a long-standing conflict between the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and majority of the country's top flight clubs.[3] The domestic championship was abandoned as a result of the conflict and the top clubs prevented their players from playing for the national team, with tax officials also probing allegations of fraud at the Azerbaijan federation.[4] Under the management of Agaselim Mirjavadov, Khazar Lankaran finished as Azerbaijan Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, while becoming league champions in 2006 despite losing the title to Neftchi in 2004 during Championship play-off. Qarabağ was the first ever team from Azerbaijan to reach UEFA Europa League play off-round during the seasons 2009-10 and 2010-11. Few gave chances for qualification to the next round, although the Aghdam side caused quite a stir against favorites Rosenborg, Honka, Twente and Wisła Kraków.

The 2010s[edit]

Under Gurban Gurbanov's management, Qarabağ became the second team to represent Azerbaijan in the European Cup.

The 2010s brought a bright start, with Neftchi emerged as a champion after six years of unsuccessful run.[5][6] In the next season, Neftchi repeated its domestic success after sealing their seventh title in club's history.[7][8] In that year, Neftchi Baku became the first Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition.[9] In 2012–13 season, Neftchi managed to win three titles in a row.[10][11] In 2013–14 season, Qarabağ managed to win its 2nd title after 21 years.[12] In 2014, Qarabağ became the second Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition.[13]

Competition format[edit]

The competition format follows the usual double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays every other club twice, once at home and once away, for a total of 36 games.[14] Teams receive three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, with the highest-ranked club at the end of the season crowned champion.

A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Azerbaijan Premier League and the Azerbaijan First Division. The two lowest placed teams in Premier League are relegated to the First Division, and the top two teams from the First Division promoted to Premier League. Below is a complete record of how many teams played in each season throughout the league's history;

 
  • 26 clubs = 1992
  • 20 clubs = 1993
  • 16 clubs = 1993–1994
  • 13 clubs = 1994–1995
  • 11 clubs = 1995–1996
  • 16 clubs = 1996–1997
  • 15 clubs = 1997–1998
  • 14 clubs = 1998–1999
  • 12 clubs = 1999–2000
  • 11 clubs = 2000–2001
  • 12 clubs = 2001–2002
  • 14 clubs = 2003–2004
  • 18 clubs = 2004–2005
  • 14 clubs = 2005–2006
  • 13 clubs = 2006–2007
  • 14 clubs = 2007–2009
  • 12 clubs = 2009–2013
  • 10 clubs = 2013–present

Qualification for European competitions[edit]

The champions qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the second and third placed teams qualifies for the UEFA Europa League. As of the start of the 2011–12 Premier League season qualification for European competitions is as follows: champions qualify for the second qualifying stage of the UEFA Champions League, runners-up and third placed team qualifies for the first qualifying round of the Europa League. A fourth spot is given to the winner of the Azerbaijan Cup, who qualify for the first round of the Europa League. If the Azerbaijan Cup winner has already qualified for European competition through their league finish, then the runners-up take their place in the first round. If the runners-up have also qualified, the next highest placed club in the league takes their place.

Finances[edit]

Attendances[edit]

Due to its relatively low income from television, Azerbaijani clubs are highly dependent on revenues from commercial partners and club owners.

Khazar Lankaran has the highest attendance in the Caucasus region.
Season
Total attendance
Number of
matches
Average attendance
per match
Ref
2001–02 187,929 171 1,099 [15]
†League was cancelled - - -
2003–04 195,840 144 1,360 [16]
2004–05 470,670 290 1,623 [16]
2005–06 183,365 169 1,085 [16]
2006–07 225,216 144 1,564 [16]
2007–08 277,667 169 1,643 [16]
2008–09 309,582 182 1,701 [16]
2009–10 340,522 172 1,979 [17]
2010–11 418,418 192 2,179 [17]
2011–12 433,342 192 2,256 [18]
2012–13 364,910 192 1,900 [19]
2013–14 281,400 175 1,608 [20]

UEFA has suspended the league after longstanding conflict between the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and the majority of the country's top-flight clubs.[21]

Sponsorship[edit]

The UniBank, who had sponsored the league since 2009, did not renew their sponsorship at the end of the 2011–12 season.[22][23] Talks began with Topaz betting operator, and a deal was confirmed shortly afterwards.[24]

  • 2009–2012: Unibank Premyer Liqası[25]
  • 2012–2015: Topaz Premyer Liqası[26]

As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Premier League has a number of official partners and suppliers. The official ball supplier for the league is Adidas who is providing their Cafusa match ball for the season.[27]

Insolvency events[edit]

Since the APL began, five of its member clubs have entered administration, while nearly twenty clubs liquidated.[28][29] A reduction in revenue from ticket sales for APL games and club merchandise impacted negatively on club expenditure. Players were asked to consider wage cuts and team squads were reduced.

A major criticism of the Premier League in the mid-2000s was the emergence of gulf between the Premier League and the First Division. Criticism of the gap between clubs has continued, nevertheless, due to some clubs' increasing ability to spend more than the other Premier League clubs. For some clubs, including Shamkir, Karvan, Absheron, MKT-Araz who have failed to win immediate promotion back to the top flight, financial problems, including in some cases administration or even liquidation have followed.

UEFA ranking[edit]

UEFA Country Ranking for league participation in 2013–14 European football season.

Current
Ranking
Movement Last Season
Ranking
League Coefficient
27 Steady (27) Serbia Serbian SuperLiga 13.375
28 Substituted in (29) Slovenia Slovenian PrvaLiga 10.750
29 Substituted in (30) Slovakia Slovak First Football League 12.875
30 Substituted in (32) Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Premier League 11.250
31 Substituted off (28) Hungary Nemzeti Bajnokság I 11.000
32 Substituted in (34) Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Premier League 10.375
33 Substituted off (32) Moldova Moldovan National Division 10.000

Last Updated: 29 August 2014.[30]

Media coverage[edit]

AzTV currently own all the rights to broadcast the season's games on terrestrial TV.[31][32][33] In Azerbaijan, the Premier League is also available on Idman Azerbaycan TV.

Members of the Azerbaijan Premier League (2014–15 season)[edit]

Location of teams in 2014–15 Azerbaijan Premier League

Ravan Baku were relegated to Azerbaijan First Division.

The format of the league not change as a total of 10 teams will contest the league, with the last club relegated and Araz-Naxçıvan promoted from the First Division.[34] The competition format follows the usual double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays every other club four times, twice at home and twice away, for a total of 36 games.[35]

Stadia and locations[edit]

Note: Table lists in alphabetical order.
Team Location Venue Capacity[36]
Araz-Naxçıvan Nakhchivan Nakhchivan City Stadium 11,800
AZAL Baku AZAL Stadium 5,000
Baku Baku FC Baku's Training Base 2,000
Gabala Gabala Gabala City Stadium 8,000
Inter Baku Baku Inter Arena 10,000
Khazar Lankaran Lankaran Lankaran City Stadium 15,000
Neftchi Baku Baku Bakcell Arena 11,000
Qarabağ Agdam Tofiq Bahramov Stadium 31,200
Simurq Zaqatala Zaqatala City Stadium 3,500
Sumgayit Sumqayit Kapital Bank Arena 16,000

Statistics[edit]

Records[edit]

Players in the Premier League compete for the Azerbaijan Premier League Golden Boot, awarded to the top scorer at the end of each season. Nazim Aliyev is the league's all-time top scorer with 183 goals, including 39 in the 1992 season.[37] During the 1995–96 season he became the first player to score 100 Premier League goals. Since then, 10 other players have reached the 100-goal mark.[37]

Khagani Mammadov is one of the highest goalscorers in Premier League.
Top Ten Highest Goalscorers[38]
Player Period Club[39] Goals
1 Azerbaijan Nazim Aliyev 1992–1999 Neftchi Baku 183
2 Azerbaijan Mushfig Huseynov 1992–2007 Qarabağ 125
3 Azerbaijan Rovshan Ahmadov 1992–2003 Kapaz 116
4 Azerbaijan Gurban Gurbanov 1990–2006 Neftchi Baku 115
5 Azerbaijan Samir Alakbarov 1992–2001 Neftchi Baku 115
6 Azerbaijan Alay Bahramov 1992–1999 Viləş Masallı 108
7 Azerbaijan Vadim Vasilyev 1994–2007 Baki Fehlesi 102
8 Azerbaijan Khagani Mammadov 1994–2012 Inter Baku 102
9 Azerbaijan Kanan Karimov 1995–2012 Shamkir 101
10 Azerbaijan Nadir Nabiyev 1995–2012 Turan 100
Aslan Kerimov is one of the most capped players in Premier League.
Top Ten Players With Most Appearances[40]
Player Period Club[41] Games
1 Azerbaijan Azer Mammadov 1992–2012 Kapaz 445
2 Azerbaijan Mahmud Gurbanov 1992–2012 Kapaz 421
3 Azerbaijan Aslan Kerimov 1992–2011 Qarabağ 382
4 Azerbaijan Agil Mammadov 1992–2011 Turan 364
5 Azerbaijan Ismayil Mammadov 1992–2009 Shamkir 351
6 Azerbaijan Kanan Karimov 1995–2012 Shamkir 327
7 Azerbaijan Nadir Nabiyev 1995–2012 Turan 316
8 Azerbaijan Mubariz Orujov 1992–2008 Khazar Lankaran 311
9 Azerbaijan Mushfig Huseynov 1992–2007 Qarabağ 305
10 Azerbaijan Adehim Niftaliyev 1995–2011 Khazar Lankaran 303
Biggest home win
Neftchi Baku 11–0 Şahdağ Qusar (1999–00)[42]
Most consecutive games unbeaten
Kəpəz, 30 games, 1997-98[2]
Youngest goalscorer
Orkhan Aliyev, for Sumgayit vs Gabala, 15 years old, 236 days[43]
Oldest player
Nadir Shukurov, for Karvan vs Mughan, 42 years, 19 April 2009[44]
All-time top scorer
Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit, Neftchi, Qarabag, Shafa Baku, Dinamo Baku), (183 goals)
Most APL appearances
Azer Mammadov, 445
Most goals in a season
Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit), (39 goals), 1992

Champions and top scorers[edit]

Season Champion Runner-up 3rd position Top scorer
1992 Neftchi Baku Khazar Sumgayit Turan Azerbaijan Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit, 39 goals)
1993 Qarabağ Khazar Sumgayit Turan Azerbaijan Samir Alakbarov (Neftchi Baku, 16 goals)
1993-94 Turan Qarabağ Kapaz Azerbaijan Musa Gurbanov (Turan, 35 goals)
1994-95 Kapaz Turan Neftchi Baku Azerbaijan Nazim Aliyev (Neftchi Baku, 27 goals)
1995-96 Neftchi Baku Khazri Buzovna Kapaz Azerbaijan Nazim Aliyev (Neftchi Baku/Qarabağ, 23 goals)
1996-97 Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Khazri Buzovna Azerbaijan Gurban Gurbanov (Neftchi Baku, 25 goals)
1997-98 Kapaz Baku Shamkir Azerbaijan Nazim Aliyev (Baku, 23 goals)
1998-99 Kapaz Shamkir Neftchi Baku Azerbaijan Alay Bahramov (Viləş Masallı, 24 goals)
1999-00 Shamkir Kapaz Neftchi Baku Azerbaijan Badri Kvaratskhelia (Shamkir, 16 goals)
2000-01 Shamkir Neftchi Baku Vilash Masalli Azerbaijan Pasha Aliyev (Bakili Baku, 12 goals)
2001-02 Shamkir Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Azerbaijan Kanan Karimov (Kapaz, 14 goals)
Russia Dmitri Kudinov (Qarabağ, 14 goals)
2002-03 Due to conflict between almost all clubs and the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, no league championship was held.[45]
2003-04 Neftchi Baku Shamkir Qarabağ Azerbaijan Samir Musayev (Qarabağ, 20 goals)
2004-05 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Karvan Azerbaijan Zaur Ramazanov (Karvan, 21 goals)
2005-06 Baku Karvan Neftchi Baku Ivory Coast Yacouba Bamba (Karvan, 16 goals)
2006-07 Khazar Lankaran Neftchi Baku Baku Azerbaijan Zaur Ramazanov (Khazar Lankaran, 20 goals)
2007-08 Inter Baku AZAL Neftchi Baku Azerbaijan Khagani Mammadov (Inter Baku, 19 goals)
2008-09 Baku Inter Baku Simurq Uruguay Walter Guglielmone (Inter Baku, 17 goals)
2009-10 Inter Baku Baku Qarabağ Azerbaijan Farid Guliyev (Standard Baku, 16 goals)
2010-11 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Qarabağ Georgia (country) Georgi Adamia (Qarabağ, 18 goals)
2011-12 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Inter Baku Uzbekistan Bahodir Nasimov (Neftchi Baku, 16 goals)
2012-13 Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Inter Baku Chile Nicolás Canales (Neftchi Baku, 26 goals)
2013-14 Qarabağ Inter Baku Gabala Brazil Reynaldo (Qarabağ, 22 goals)

Performance by club[edit]

Club Winners Winning Years
Neftchi Baku
8
1992, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13
Kapaz
3
1994–95, 1997–98, 1998–99
Shamkir
3
1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02
Baku
2
2005–06, 2008–09
Inter Baku
2
2007–08, 2009–10
Qarabağ
2
1993, 2013–14
Turan
1
1993–94
Khazar Lankaran
1
2006–07

Azerbaijan SSR champions[edit]

Players[edit]

Azerbaijan Premier League clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players – all players with foreign nationality, including those able to claim a passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain Azerbaijani work permits.

The only restriction on selection is the "Under-21 rule". This rule states that each club must include at least two players under the age of 21 in its matchday squad.[46] Opinions on this rule appear to be divided among APL managers.

Awards[edit]

Trophy[edit]

The current Azerbaijan Premier League trophy was developed by the Professional Football League of Azerbaijan and the trophy has been awarded to the champion of Azerbaijan since the end of the 2009–10 season, replacing the previous Premier League trophy that had existed for only few years.

Monthly and annual[edit]

In addition to the winner's Trophy and the individual winner's medal players receive, Azerbaijan Premier League also awards the monthly Player of the Month award. Following the season, the awards such as the Player of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Young Player of the Year from Azerbaijan Premier League are handed out.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ölkə futbolu qara geyinməyə hazırlaşır (Yazı)". Penalti.az (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Годы независимости. Успехи Нефтчи, Кяпаза, Шамкира, и французский позор". Azerisport.com. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "İbrahimoviç Qurbanova çatdı". futbolplusqol.com (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  4. ^ Walker, Paul. "Relief for Wales as Uefa lifts ban on Azerbaijan". Independent.co.uk. The Independent. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Ibrahimov, Erkin. "Neftçi take title honours in Azerbaijan". UEFA. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Neftchi are Azerbaijani champions". News.az. 
  7. ^ Чемпионский рецепт от Нефтчи. Azerisport.com (in Russian). Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Ibragimov, Erkin. "Neftçi take honours in Azerbaijan". UEFA. uefa.com. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Нефтчи" стал первым азербайджанским футбольным клубом, вышедшим в групповой этап еврокубков - ФОТО. 1news.az (in Russian). Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "ARDICIL ÜÇÜNCÜ DƏFƏ ÇEMPİON "NEFTÇİ"!!!". fanat.az (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Three in a row for Azerbaijani champions Neftçi". uefa.com. UEFA. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Azerbaycan'da şampiyon Karabağ". www.milliyet.com.tr (in Turkish). Milliyet. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Карабах" выбил "Твенте" из Лиги Европы. www.sovsport.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
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  15. ^ Посещаемость чемпионата Азербайджана выросла на 22% (in Russian). Azerisport.com. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
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  19. ^ "18 turun azarkeş sayı – 214.470 nəfər". fanat.az (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
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  22. ^ Unibank стал главным спонсором профессиональной футбольной лиги (Azerbaijani)
  23. ^ Азербайджанский «Unibank» стал официальным спонсором Премьер-лиги (Azerbaijani)
  24. ^ ""Topaz" Premyer Liqanın yeni sponsoru oldu". Sportal.az (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  25. ^ "Unibank has become general sponsor of Professional Football League". Azerbaijan Business Center. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2009. 
  26. ^ "Topaz и ПФЛ подписались на три совместных сезона". Azerisport.az. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  27. ^ "Ramin Musayev: "Yeni mövsümdə yeniliklər olacaq"" (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  28. ^ Распался клуб-участник азербайджанской Премьер-лиги. Trend.az (in Russian). Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  29. ^ "Futbolun vidalaşdıqları futbolla vidalaşa bilmir (Yazı)". korner.az (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  30. ^ UEFA Country Ranking 2012
  31. ^ "Телехозяин" азербайджанского чемпионата (Russian)
  32. ^ Снова АзТВ (Russian)
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  36. ^ Azərbaycan Peşəkar Liqası (Azerbaijani)
  37. ^ a b Ekspress Newspaper (Azerbaijani)
  38. ^ ""100-lər klubu" üçün het-trik". Football Plus Newspaper (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  39. ^ where player shot the most goals
  40. ^ "Premyer Liqamızın ilk "11"i". apasport.az (in Azerbaijani). Apasport News Agency. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  41. ^ where player played the most games.
  42. ^ ПАС ИЗ-ЗА ГРАНИЦЫ. Sports Express Newspaper (in Russian). Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  43. ^ "Europe's youngest top-flight goalscorers". www.uefa.com. UEFA. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
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  45. ^ Azerbaijan 2002/03
  46. ^ "AFFA 21 yaşla bağlı qərarı ləğv edir, bu dəfə Ramin Musayev Elxan Məmmədova qalib gəldi". sportinfo.az (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 19 May 2013. 

External links[edit]