Israeli football league system

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The Israeli football league system is a series of interconnected leagues for club football in Israel. The system has a hierarchical format with promotion and relegation between leagues at different levels, and allows even the smallest club to dream of rising to the very top of the system. There are five levels, containing a total of 16 divisions. It is run by the Israel Football Association (IFA).

Structure[edit]

The top division of Israeli football is the Premier League. Liga Leumit is the second tier, These two divisions all operate at the national level.

Below Liga Leumit the divisions are split into regionalised leagues. Liga Alef is the third tier, and is split into north and south divisions. Liga Bet, the fourth tier, is divided into four regionalised leagues. Liga Gimel, the bottom division of Israeli football, is split into eight regionalised leagues.

League system[edit]

Level League/Division(s)
1 Israeli Premier League
14 clubs
2 Liga Leumit
16 clubs
3 Liga Alef North
16 clubs
Liga Alef South
16 clubs
4 Liga Bet North A
16 clubs
Liga Bet North B
16 clubs
Liga Bet South A
16 clubs
Liga Bet South B
16 clubs
5 Liga Gimel North
Upper Galilee

14 clubs
Liga Gimel North
Lower Galilee

14 clubs
Liga Gimel North
Jezreel

14 clubs
Liga Gimel North
Samaria

14 clubs
Liga Gimel South
Sharon

14 clubs
Liga Gimel South
Tel Aviv

16 clubs
Liga Gimel South
Central

14 clubs
Liga Gimel South
South

11 clubs

About the Leagues[edit]

Premier League[edit]

The Israeli Premier League (Hebrew: ליגת העל‎, Ligat HaAl, lit. Super League), is the highest league in Israeli football and has 14 member clubs. Winning the Premier League is the top prize in Israeli football and guarantees a berth in the UEFA Champions League.

The league was created in 1999 as the IFA aimed to realign the leagues to improve competition. The league has 14 clubs, at the end of the 2014–15 season two teams will be relegated with two teams from Liga Leumit will be promoted.

Current Premier League clubs (2014–15)[edit]

Liga Leumit[edit]

Main article: Liga Leumit

Liga Leumit (Hebrew: ליגה לאומית‎, lit. National League) is the second tier of Israeli football, a position it has held since 1999, having originally been the top division prior to the Premier League's creation. It has 16 member clubs, the team finished first are promoted to the Premier League, The bottom two or three teams are relegated to Liga Alef at the end of each season.

Current Liga Leumit clubs (2014–15)[edit]

Liga Alef[edit]

Main article: Liga Alef

Liga Alef (Hebrew: ליגה א'‎, lit. A League) is the third tier of Israeli football, a position it has held since 2009. Between 1999 and 2009 it was the fourth tier after Liga Artzit, between 1976 and 1999 it was the third tier after Liga Artzit, between 1955 and 1976 it was the second division, and between 1951 and 1955 it was the first division. Liga Alef consists of two divisions and has 32 member clubs. The divisions are based on the clubs' geographical position in the country and are split into a north and south category. The top club from each division is promoted at the end of the season to Liga Leumit, the bottom two clubs (from each division) are relegated at the end of the season to Liga Bet.

Liga Bet[edit]

Main article: Liga Bet

Liga Bet (Hebrew: ליגה ב'‎, lit. B League) is the fourth tier of Israeli football, a position it has held since 2009. Between 1999 and 2009 it was the fifth tier after Liga Alef, Between 1976 and 1999 it was the fourth tier after the creation of Liga Artzit, between 1955 and 1976 it was the third division, and between 1951 and 1955 it was the second division. Liga Bet consists of four divisions and has 64 member clubs. The divisions are based on the clubs geographical position in the country and are split into two north categories and two south categories. The top club from each division is promoted at the end of the season to the Liga Alef and the bottom two clubs (from each division) are relegated at the end of the season to Liga Gimel.

Liga Gimel[edit]

Main article: Liga Gimel

Liga Gimel (Hebrew: ליגה ג'‎, lit. C League) is the fifth and bottom tier of Israeli football, a position it has held since 2009. Between 1999 and 2009 it was the sixth tier after Liga Bet, Between 1976 and 1999 it was the fifth tier after the creation of Liga Artzit, between 1955 and 1976 it was the fourth division, and between 1951 and 1955 it was the third division. Liga Gimel consists of eight divisions of varying size. At the start of the 2014–15 season there are a total of 111 member clubs. If they meet criteria laid down by the IFA, the top club from each division is promoted at the end of the season to the Liga Bet. As it is the lowest division, no clubs are relegated.

Football clubs in Israel[edit]

For a full list of clubs see List of football clubs in Israel.

League Structure History[edit]

League football in Mandatory Palestine began in 1931, and second and third tiers were added to the league as early as 1937, but football structuring was disrupted by the Arab revolt and by World War II. In 1947, league football was resumed and was played in two tiers, the top Palestine League and the second tier Liga Bet.

Following the Israeli Declaration of Independence and War of Independence, the league resumed in 1949, with a two-tier league, the second served as a temporary second division, titled Liga Meuhedet (lit. 'Special League'). The following season, league football wasn't played, due to disagreements between the Maccabi and Hapoel factions in the IFA. With the return of league football, a third tier was added, and the leagues were assigned as Liga Alef (lit. 'Liga A'), Liga Bet (lit. 'Liga B') and Liga Gimel (lit. 'Liga C').

In 1955–56 in Israeli football, Liga Leumit (lit. 'National League') was added at the top of the football system, demoting the Alef, Bet and Gimel leagues to the second, third and fourth tiers, with a fifth tier, Liga Dalet (lit. 'Liga D') added for one season in 1958–59, and added again starting with 1969–70.

In 1976–77, Liga Artzit (lit. 'State League') was added as second tier, demoting the Alef, Bet, Gimel and Dalet leagues to the third, fourth, fifth and sixth tier. Liga Dalet was scrapped at the end of the 1984–85 season, bringing back the league system to five tiers.

In 1999–2000 the Israeli Premier League was added at the top of the league system, demoting the other leagues to second to sixth tiers. At the end of the 2008–09 season, Liga Artzit was scrapped, bringing the league system back to five tiers, and its current structure

League System Changes[edit]

Time Period 1st Tier 2nd Tier 3rd Tier 4th Tier 5th Tier 6th Tier
1946–1948 Palestine League Liga Bet
1949–1950 Israeli League Liga Meuhedet
1951–1955 Liga Alef Liga Bet Liga Gimel
1955–1958 Liga Leumit Liga Alef Liga Bet Liga Gimel
1958–1959 Liga Dalet
1959–1969
1969–1976 Liga Dalet
1976–1985 Liga Artzit Liga Alef Liga Bet Liga Gimel Liga Dalet
1985–1999
1999–2009 Premier League Liga Leumit Liga Artzit Liga Alef Liga Bet Liga Gimel
2009–
current
Liga Alef Liga Bet Liga Gimel

References[edit]