Liga Alef

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Liga Alef
Country Israel Israel
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Founded 1949; 65 years ago (1949)
Number of teams 16X2
Levels on pyramid 3
Promotion to National League
Relegation to Liga Bet
Domestic cup(s) State Cup
Current champions Hapoel Kfar Saba (North)
Maccabi Kiryat Gat (South)
(2013–14)
Website [1] (North)
[2] (South)
2014-15

Liga Alef (Hebrew: ליגה א'‎, lit. A League) is the third tier of the Israeli football league system.

History[edit]

League football began in Israel in 1949–50, a year after independence. However, the financial and security crises gripping the young nation caused the 1950–51 season to be abandoned before it had started. When football resumed in 1951–52, the new top division went by the name of Liga Alef. The 1952–53 season was also not played, and Liga Alef resumed in 1953–54.

In the 1955–56 season, Liga Leumit came into existence as the new top division, with Liga Alef becoming the second division. In the summer of 1976, restructuring saw the creation of Liga Artzit as a new second tier, and the second demotion of Liga Alef, as it became the third division. Further restructuring to create the Israeli Premier League in the summer of 1999 saw Liga Alef demoted again, this time to the fourth tier. At the end of the 2008–09 season, Liga Artzit was scrapped as the Premier League and Liga Leumit were expanded to 16 clubs each, with Liga Alef becoming the third tier once more.

Structure[edit]

Today, Liga Alef is split into two regional divisions on a north-south basis. Because Israel's northern half is much more densely populated than the desert south, the dividing line between the northern and southern divisions is somewhere between Haifa and Tel Aviv, meaning that the southern "half" covers about three-quarters of the country. Although this inequality is partially offset by the fact that there are so few clubs south of Beersheba (Dimona, Yeroham, Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat are the only sizable towns south of the city, and currently only Maccabi Be'er Sheva are in Liga Alef), the northern clubs tend to be clustered in the Galilee region, making travel to away matches much less of a chore.

Each division has sixteen clubs, who play each other home and away to make a 30-game season. The club finishing top of each regional division is promoted to Liga Leumit, whilst the eight second to fifth placed clubs have a play-off, with the winner playing-off against the third-bottom club in Liga Leumit for a place in that division. The bottom two from each division are relegated to Liga Bet, the fourth tier, and the two third-bottom clubs playing-off against play-off winners from Liga Bet for a place in Liga Alef. Coming into Liga Alef are the two or three clubs relegated from Liga Leumit and the four to six clubs promoted from Liga Bet (the winner of each of the four regional divisions, and one or two more runners-up, had they are successful in the play-off). The clubs are then pooled and assigned to the most geographically appropriate of the two divisions.

Current members[edit]

The following clubs are participating in the 2013–14 season:

Liga Alef North

Liga Alef South

Previous seasons[edit]

Northern division[edit]

Season Winner Relegated
Third tier
1998–99 Hapoel Ra'anana Hapoel Umm al-Fahm, Hapoel Kafr Qasim
Fourth tier
1999–2000 Hapoel Majd al-Krum Maccabi Afula
2000–01 Ironi Kiryat Shmona Maccabi Isfiya, Hapoel Iksal
2001–02 Hapoel Kafr Sumei Tzeirei Nahf, Hapoel Hurfeish
2002–03 Hapoel Herzliya Hapoel Hadera, Hapoel Tayibe
2003–04 Maccabi Hadera 1 Hapoel Migdal HaEmek
2004–05 Maccabi Tzur Shalom Hapoel Tuba, Maccabi Tura'an
2005–06 Hapoel Bnei Tamra Maccabi Tamra, Hapoel Beit She'an, Maccabi Shefa-'Amr
2006–07 Hapoel Bnei Jadeidi Hapoel Kafr Sumei, Hapoel Reineh, Maccabi Sektzia Ma'alot
2007–08 Hapoel Umm al-Fahm Beitar Haifa, Hapoel Ahva Haifa, Hapoel Makr
2008–09 Ahva Arraba Maccabi Ironi Shlomi/Nahariya, Beitar Ihud Mashhad
Third tier
2009–10 Maccabi Ironi Jatt Hapoel Bnei Jadeidi, Hapoel Bnei Tamra, Maccabi Ironi Tirat HaCarmel
2010–11 Maccabi Umm al-Fahm Ironi Sayid Umm al-Fahm, Maccabi Kafr Qara, Hapoel Ramot Menashe Megiddo
2011–12 Hapoel Asi Gilboa 2 Maccabi Ironi Tamra, Ahi Acre
2012–13 Hapoel Afula Hapoel Kafr Kanna, Maccabi Sektzia Ma'alot
2013–14 Hapoel Kfar Saba Hapoel Daliyat al-Karmel, Maccabi Kafr Kanna, Ahva Arraba

1 Maccabi Hadera folded in the summer of 2004. Maccabi Tirat HaCarmel (who had finished in second place) were promoted in their place.

2 Hapoel Asi Gilboa were not promoted, after losing in promotion play-offs to the South division champions, Maccabi Yavne, in away goals (2-2 on aggregate).

Southern division[edit]

Season Winner Relegated
Third tier
1998–99 Hapoel Ironi Dimona Hapoel Yeruham, Beitar Ramla
Fourth tier
1999–2000 Maccabi Ashkelon Hapoel Or Yehuda
2000–01 Maccabi Yavne Tzeirei Jaffa, Sektzia Nes Tziona
2001–02 Maccabi Ramat Amidar Hapoel Kiryat Ono, Hapoel Lod, Maccabi Ma'ale Adumim
2002–03 Hapoel Tira None 1
2003–04 Maccabi Be'er Sheva Hapoel Bat Yam
2004–05 Hapoel Bnei Lod Hapoel Qalansawe, Hapoel Jaljulia
2005–06 Sektzia Nes Tziona Maccabi Sha'arayim, F.C. Kafr Qasim, Beitar Givat Ze'ev
2006–07 Hapoel Maxim Lod 2 AS Jaffa, Hapoel Arad
2007–08 Maccabi Ironi Bat Yam Tzafririm Holon, Maccabi Ironi Amishav Petah Tikva, Ironi Ofakim
2008–09 Maccabi Be'er Sheva Ironi Ramla, Hapoel Masos Shaqib al-Salam
Third tier
2009–10 Hapoel Herzliya Beitar Kfar Saba, Hapoel Mevaseret Zion
2010–11 Hapoel Jerusalem Hapoel Nahlat Yehuda, Tzafririm Holon, Shimshon Bnei Tayibe
2011–12 Maccabi Yavne Maccabi Ironi Netivot, Maccabi HaShikma Ramat Hen, Maccabi Ironi Jatt Alahli
2012–13 Hapoel Katamon Hapoel Arad, Maccabi Ironi Kfar Yona, Ortodoxim Lod
2013–14 Maccabi Kiryat Gat Maccabi Be'er Sheva, Maccabi Be'er Ya'akov, Bnei Eilat

1 No club relegated as both Beitar Be'er Sheva (which relegated from Liga Leumit) and Hapoel Ironi Dimona folded.

2 Although Hapoel Maxim Lod finished top, they folded and second-placed Hapoel Kfar Shalem were promoted instead.

External links[edit]