Iran Pro League

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Persian Gulf Cup
جام خلیج فارس
IPLlogo.png
Country  Iran
Confederation AFC
Founded 1970 officially
2001 with current format
Divisions 1
Number of teams 16
Levels on pyramid 1
Relegation to Azadegan League
Domestic cup(s) Hazfi Cup
International cup(s) AFC Champions League
Current champions Foolad (2nd title)
(2013–14)
Most championships Sepahan (4 titles)
TV partners IRIB TV3
Channel 2
Ostani
Jame Jam 1
PN TV
Persepolis TV
Website www.iranleague.ir
2013–14 Iran Pro League

The Iran Pro League (IPL) (Persian: لیگ برتر فوتبال ایران‎) also known as Persian Gulf Cup (Persian: جام خلیج فارس‎), is a professional football league competition for clubs located at the highest level of the Iranian football league system. It was founded in 1970 as the Takht Jamshid Cup, but the current format was adopted in 2001. Contested by 16 teams, it is ranked by the Asian Football Confederation as the 2nd best league in Asia and the best league in Western Asia. The Premier League is the top tier of an extensive pyramid-like structure, above the Azadegan League (or 1st Division), the 2nd division, the 3rd Division and the lower local leagues. Since the creation of the league in 2001, six different teams have become league champions.

History[edit]

Pre Iran Pro League[edit]

Before the 1970s Iran did not have an official national league and most teams competed in their local leagues, the most popular of those leagues being the Tehran Local League, which featured teams like Pas Tehran, Persepolis, and Taj.

In 1972, the Takht Jamshid Cup was created as the national league and included teams from all over the country. Pas Tehran and Persepolis were the most successful clubs in the cups five year existence, winning the cup twice each. In 1978, the league was abandoned because of the Iranian Revolution.

Due to the revolution and the Iran–Iraq War, football was no longer a priority. Clubs had very little money and due to political reasons team names, management and resources were changed as they were seen as reminders of the Shah's rule. There was no major league competitions in the 1980s, only a few local leagues such as the 17th of Shahrivar league were played. In 1985, the Qods League was created and was played among provincial teams. Tehran A, and Esfahan were the most successful teams, winning the League twice each. In spite of the attempts to create a national league the most important competition in Iran in the 1980s was the Tehran Clubs Cup in which Persepolis dominated.

In 1991 the Qods League was renamed the Azadegan League in honor of Iranian prisoners of war. Pas Tehran won the inaugural edition of the league, and for the first time since the revolution, Iran had a national league. Pas Tehran, Persepolis, and Esteghlal were the leagues most successful sides, with Pas and Esteghlal winning the Asian Club Championships and Persepolis winning the Asian Cup Winners' Cup. In 2001 the league dissolved with the introduction of the new Iran Pro League.

Iran Pro League[edit]

The 2001-2002 season saw the introduction of a professional football league in Iran.[1] The first winner of the Iran Pro League was Persepolis, who beat rival club Esteghlal by one point on the final match day. In the 2002-03 season, Sepahan won the league comfortably with seven points separating them and second placed Pas Tehran. In the 2003-04 Iran Pro League season, Pas Tehran won their first title after coming in second place the year before. Defending champions Sepahan finished 6th place. The 2004-05 season was a surprising one as Foolad shockingly won the title, finishing on top by six points. In the 2005-06 season, Tehran club Esteghlal won their first league title, winning on the final day as they finished one point ahead of second placed team Pas Tehran.

Persian Gulf Cup[edit]

On August 12, 2006, the Iranian Football Federation decided to change the name of the league once again. The name of the league was changed to the Persian Gulf Cup.[2] This was done to promote the name of the Persian Gulf, instead of the many variations that some nations and organizations use which Iran disputes. The logo of the league was also changed, with the winner being selected from over 130 designs and unveiled on November 14, 2006.[3]

Saipa was the 6th team to win the 6th new edition of the league which meant 6 different teams won 6 leagues in a row. But in 2008 Persepolis regained the title after 6 years by a dramatic win against rivals Sepahan on the 96th minute of the final matchday and became the first team that won two titles in the new edition of the League. The next season Esteghlal did the same thing and won the league for the second time on the final match day.

Sepahan's domestic dominance started in the 2009-10 season where they won the league comfortably, a feat which they did again the following season. In the 2011-12 edition of the league they had a more difficult job trying repeat the glory of the past years, they won it on the final match day for the third time in a row. They are the first club in the history of the Iran Pro League to win the League 3 times, and 3 times in a row. Sepahan's dominance ended in the 2012-13 season, when Esteghlal cruised to a comfortable league victory.

Before the start of the 2012-13 season, the IFF, who were recommended by Iranian National Team Manager Carlos Queiroz, announced that for the 2013-14 season the number of the teams will be reduced from 18 to 16, to increase the competitiveness of the league.

The 2013-14 season witnessed the closest title race since the league came into existence. Coming into the last match day 5 teams had the possibility of becoming champions, in the end Foolad became champions after beating Gostaresh Foolad 1-0. While Persepolis finished second, two points behind Foolad. Although Sepahan beat Naft Tehran 1-0 on the final matchday, Naft finished third ahead of Sepahan because of better goal difference. With Esteghlal's 3-1 loss to Tractor Sazi, Esteghlal finished 5th and missed out on a Champions League spot for the first time in four years.

Current clubs (2014–15)[edit]

Team City Venue Capacity
Esteghlal Tehran Azadi 84,412
Esteghlal Khuzestan Ahvaz Takhti Ahvaz 30,000
Foolad Ahvaz Ghadir 50,199
Gostaresh Tabriz Gostaresh Foolad 12,000
Malavan Anzali Takhti Anzali 8,000
Naft Masjed Soleyman Masjed Soleyman Behnam Mohammadi 30,000
Naft Tehran Tehran Dastgerdi 8,250
Padideh Mashhad Samen 30,000
Paykan Qods Shahre Qods 25,000
Perspolis Tehran Azadi 84,412
Saba Qom Qom Yadegar Emam 10,610
Saipa Karaj Enghelab Karaj 30,000
Sepahan Esfahan Foolad Shahr 31,439
Sorinet Tehran Takhti Tehran 12,922
Tractor Sazi Tabriz Sahand 75,000
Zob Ahan Esfahan Foolad Shahr 31,439

Champions[edit]

Further information: Iranian football champions

List of champions by season[edit]

Season Winner No. IPL titles
[Total titles]
2001–02 Persepolis 1 [8]
2002–03 Sepahan 1 [1]
2003–04 Pas Tehran 1 [5]
2004–05 Foolad 1 [1]
2005–06 Esteghlal 1 [6]
2006–07 Saipa 1 [3]
2007–08 Persepolis 2 [9]
2008–09 Esteghlal 2 [7]
2009–10 Sepahan 2 [2]
2010–11 Sepahan 3 [3]
2011–12 Sepahan 4 [4]
2012–13 Esteghlal 3 [8]
2013–14 Foolad 2 [2]

Most successful clubs since 2001 in Iran Pro League[edit]

Team Winners Runners-up Third Place
Sepahan 4 (2002–03, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12) 1 (2007–08) 1 (2012–13)
Esteghlal 3 (2005–06, 2008–09, 2012–13) 3 (2001–02, 2003–04, 2010–11) 3 (2004–05, 2009–10, 2011–12)
Persepolis 2 (2001–02, 2007–08) 1 (2013–14) 2 (2002–03, 2006–07)
Foolad 2 (2004–05, 2013–14) 2 (2001–02, 2003–04)
Pas Tehran 1 (2003–04) 2 (2002–03, 2005–06)
Saipa 1 (2006–07) 1 (2005–06)
Zob Ahan 3 (2004–05, 2008–09, 2009–10) 1 (2010–11)
Tractor Sazi 2 (2011–12, 2012–13)
Esteghlal Ahvaz 1 (2006–07)
Naft Tehran - 1 (2013–14)

All-time Premier League standings[edit]

Season Persepolis Esteghlal Sepahan
2001–02 1 2 9
2002–03 3 9 1
2003–04 5 2 6
2004–05 4 3 10
2005–06 9 1 7
2006–07 3 4 5
2007–08 1 13 2
2008–09 5 1 4
2009–10 4 3 1
2010–11 4 2 1
2011–12 12 3 1
2012–13 7 1 3
2013–14 2 5 4
Top three
finishes
5 9 6
out of 13
Key: Champions
2nd or 3rd place
4th or below

Since the 2001–02 season, twelve seasons of "IPL/ Persian Gulf League" has been completed. The below table shows the total ranking for the all football clubs competing in these all 12 seasons.

Pos. Club Seasons Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Best Rank
1 Esteghlal 12 372 183 117 72 568 360 +208 666 Champions
2 Sepahan 12 372 173 112 87 561 369 +192 6281 Champions
3 Persepolis 12 372 158 127 87 531 408 +123 5952 Champions
4 Zob Ahan 12 372 152 121 99 461 376 +85 577 2nd
5 Foolad 11 338 129 114 95 424 358 +66 501 Champions
6 Saipa 12 372 116 133 123 436 434 +2 481 Champions
7 Fajr Sepasi 11 338 100 109 129 327 372 -45 409 4th
8 Malavan 11 338 97 113 128 314 400 -86 404 7th
9 Saba Qom 9 294 96 116 82 355 329 +26 404 3rd
10 Paykan 10 308 94 82 132 326 402 -76 364 5th
11 Aboomoslem 9 270 83 90 97 299 305 -6 339 4th
12 Mes Kerman 7 234 84 80 70 289 256 +33 332 3rd
13 Esteghlal Ahvaz 8 244 78 71 95 310 344 -34 305 2nd
14 Rah Ahan 8 268 71 87 106 278 330 -52 300 8th
15 Pas Tehran 6 168 72 59 37 263 181 +82 275 Champions
16 Bargh Shiraz 8 236 60 78 98 250 334 -84 258 7th
17 Tractor Sazi 5 162 65 55 47 209 171 +38 250 2nd
18 Damash Gilan (Pegah, Esteghlal) 7 218 52 68 98 198 302 -104 224 7th
19 Sanat Naft 5 162 43 42 77 178 251 -73 171 9th
20 Pas Hamedan 4 136 38 47 51 140 166 -26 161 5th
21 Naft Tehran 3 102 34 38 30 115 111 +4 140 3rd
22 Shahin Bushehr 3 102 23 38 41 98 117 -19 107 13th
23 Steel Azin 2 68 19 23 26 85 112 -27 80 5th
24 Shamoushak 3 86 16 26 44 64 118 -54 74 14th
25 Shahrdari Tabriz 2 68 14 29 25 79 97 -18 71 12th
26 Aluminium Hormozgan 1 34 7 14 13 26 40 -14 35 15th
27 Payam Mashhad 1 34 9 8 17 33 52 -19 35 16th
28 Mes Sarcheshmeh 1 34 5 9 20 23 54 -31 24 18th
29 Shirin Faraz 1 34 3 12 19 25 59 -34 21 18th
30 Shahid Ghandi Yazd 1 30 4 7 19 21 43 -22 19 16th
31 Gahar Doroud 1 34 3 10 21 24 59 -35 19 18th

1 Sepahan was deducted 3 points in 2007–08 season issued by Iranian Football Federation.
2 Persepolis was deducted 6 points in 2007–08 season issued by FIFA.

Competition format and sponsorship[edit]

Competition[edit]

There are currently 16 clubs in the league,[4] although the competition started in 2001–02 with 14 teams.[5] The season lasts from August to May, with each club playing the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents for a total of 30 games for each club, with a total of 240 games in each season. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned as champion. At the end of the season, the two worst teams are relegated directly to the Azadegan League. While the third worst team plays in a relegation play-off with an Azadegan League club.

In the Azadegan League there are two groups, the top team from each group is automatically promoted to the top flight. But, the two runner-up teams have to play against each other in a 2-legged competition. The winner is promoted to the Iran Pro League play-off, while the loser remains in the Azadegan League.

In 2012, the league considered reducing the amount of teams to 16, for the 2012-2013 Persian Gulf Cup season. This idea was dismissed for the 2012-2013 season, but was implicated for the 2013-14 season.

Qualification for Asian competitions[edit]

As of 2008 four teams from Iran qualify for the AFC Asian Champions League annually. This includes the top three teams of the IPL together with the winner of the Hazfi Cup. If the winner of the Hazfi Cup is also among the three top IPL teams then the fourth best IPL team also qualifies.

Sponsorship[edit]

According to a November 2012 study, in the 2010–11 season Iran Pro League clubs on average obtained 15% of their income from sponsorship.[6]

Media coverage[edit]

Channel 3 broadcast two games a week nationally and IRIB 2 broadcast two games a week internationally, however due to the immense popularity of Tehran teams Persepolis F.C. and Esteghlal F.C. only these teams' matches are shown on IRIB 2 internationally. Since the 2012-13 season IRIB Varzesh will televise a second game each week nationally. With the provincial channels broadcasting the rest of their local games. Occasionally on important match days, such as the final day, Channel 2 and Shoma broadcast games nationally.

On 20 July 2011, IRIB and the IFF came to agreement regarding TV rights of both IPL and national team matches worth $96.5 million that will run until 2014.[7]

Players[edit]

Transfer season[edit]

  • The summer transfer season for teams in the Persian Gulf Cup lasts from June 18 to 12pm on August 8.
  • The winter transfer season for teams in the Persian Gulf Cup lasts from December 31 to 12pm on January 20.

Foreigner cap[edit]

Each team is allowed as many foreign players in their squad as they desire, however there is a rule that only permits 3 foreign players the pitch at any one time for each side. In the past there have been breaches of this rule and in the 2006/07 season PAS Tehran F.C. were deducted 1 point for fielding 4 foreigners on one occasion and handed a 3-0 loss. Shortly after the 2011-2012 Iran Pro League season finished, the IFF announced that foreign goalkeepers on Iranian teams would be banned from Azadegan League, Iran Pro League, Hazfi Cup, and Asian Champions League. A few weeks later, the IFF announced that the ban of foreign goalkeepers had been lifted, and that each team is allowed 4 foreign on the field including the goalkeeper.

Ranking[edit]

As of 2012 it was ranked as the 36th strongest league in the world by the IFFHS.[8] It was also ranked the 2nd best league in Asia and the best in Western Asia by the Asian Football Confederation.

Records[edit]

All-time top scorers[edit]

last update: Aug 8, 2013

No. Player Goals Years
1 Iran Reza Enayati 129 2001 to 2006, 2009 to Present
2 Iran Arash Borhani 109 2002 to 2006, 2007 to Present
3 Iran Mehdi Rajabzadeh 89 2001 to 2007, 2009 to Present
4 Iran Fereydoon Fazli 85 2001 to 2002, 2003 to 2010
5 Iran Karim Ansarifard 73 2007 to Present
6 Iraq Emad Mohammed 70 2005 to 2012
7 Iran Jalal Rafkhaei 66 2005 to Present
8 Iran Siavash Akbarpour 65 2004 to 2007, 2008 to Present
9 Iran Mohammad Gholami 61 2001 to 2003, 2004 to Present
10 Iran Reza Norouzi 61 2007 to 2008, 2009 to Present
11 Senegal Ibrahima Touré 60 2007 to 2011
12 Iran Mehdi Seyed-Salehi 59 2001 to Present
13 Iran Mohsen Bayatinia 58 2001 to Present
13 Iran Mohammad Reza Khalatbari 58 2006 to 2011, 2012 to Present
15 Iran Davoud Haghi 53 2003 to 2013
15 Iran Saeid Daghighi 53 2004 to 2008, 2009 to present
17 Iran Iman Razaghirad 52 2001 to 2006, 2009 to Present
18 Iran Hadi Asghari 52 2005 to 2012
19 Iran Ali Daei 49 2003 to 2007
20 Iran Javad Kazemian 47 1999 to 2002, 2003 to 2006, 2010 to Present

Players in bold are still active in the league.

Winning managers[edit]

last update: April 11, 2014

Season Nationality Winning manager Club
2001–02  Iran Parvin, AliAli Parvin Persepolis
2002–03  Iran Kazemi, FarhadFarhad Kazemi Sepahan
2003–04  Iran Jalali, MajidMajid Jalali Pas Tehran
2004–05  Croatia Mladen Frančić Foolad
2005–06  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Esteghlal
2006–07  Iran Daei, AliAli Daei Saipa
2007–08  Iran
 United States
Ghotbi, AfshinAfshin Ghotbi Persepolis
2008–09  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Esteghlal
2009–10  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Sepahan
2010–11  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Sepahan
2011–12  Croatia Kranjčar, ZlatkoZlatko Kranjčar Sepahan
2012–13  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Esteghlal
2013–14  Iran Faraki, HosseinHossein Faraki Foolad

Multiple winning managers[edit]

last update: April 20, 2014

No. Winning manager Club No. titles
1 Iran Amir Ghalenoei Esteghlal, Sepahan 5
2 Iran Ali Parvin Perspolis 1
Iran Farhad Kazemi Sepahan
Iran Majid Jalali Pas Tehran
Croatia Mladen Frančić Foolad
Iran Ali Daei Saipa
IranUnited States Afshin Ghotbi Persepolis
Croatia Zlatko Kranjčar Sepahan
Iran Hossein Faraki Foolad

Multiple winning players[edit]

last update: May 12, 2013 [9]

No. Winning player Club No. titles
1 Iran Moharram Navidkia Sepahan 4
Iran Jalal Hosseini Saipa, Sepahan
Iran Mehdi Rahmati Esteghlal, Sepahan
Iran Hashem Beikzadeh Esteghlal, Sepahan
Brazil Fábio Januário Esteghlal, Sepahan
6 Iran Mohsen Bengar Sepahan 3
Iran Ahmad Jamshidian Sepahan
Iran Mehdi Karimian Sepahan
Iran Hossein Papi Sepahan
Iran Mehdi Jafarpour Sepahan
Iran Rahman Ahmadi Saipa, Sepahan
Iran Shahin Kheiri Sepahan, Esteghlal
Iran Pejman Montazeri Foolad, Esteghlal
Iran Kianoush Rahmati PAS, Esteghlal
Iran Siavash Akbarpour Esteghlal
Iran Arash Borhani PAS, Esteghlal
Iran Mojtaba Jabbari Esteghlal

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mehrdad Estiri, Mohammad Haghighi, Reza Mohammadkazemi, Hamzeh Rayej & Mohammad Jahed (2010). "Promotion in Iran's Football Pro-league: Important but Weak!". International Journal of Applied Sports Sciences (Korea Institute of Sports Science) 22 (1): 62. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "برنامه‌ي كامل دور رفت ششمين دوره‌ي ليگ برتر فوتبال؛ ليگ برتر به "خليج فارس" تغيير نام داد" (in Persian). ISNA. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  3. ^ "برترين طرح ارائه شده براي ليگ برتر انتخاب شد" (in Persian). IRIFF Official Website. Retrieved 2006-11-24. 
  4. ^ "Persian Gulf Cup". Soccerway. Global Sports Media. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Iran League Seasons". Persianleague.com. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Mahsa Qorbani, Mohammad Javad Sheikh, Meysam Bagheri (November 2012). "A comparative study of how to finance professional football premier leagues in Iran and England". Scholarly Journal of Business Administration 2(9): 147. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  7. ^ http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9004295645
  8. ^ "The strongest National League in the World 2012". IFFHS. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "با رسیدن به نویدکیا و سیدجلال/ رحمتی، بیک زاده و جانواریو هم 4 تایی شدند" (in Persian). Goal.com. Retrieved 2013-05-14. 

External links[edit]