The Turkish football champions are the winners of the primary football league in Turkey, Süper Lig. The league is contested on a round robin basis and the championship is awarded to the team that is top of the league at the end of the season. Turkish football league, first established in 1959, originally contained sixteen teams. Süper Lig is contested by 18 teams; the three lowest-placed teams are relegated to the 1. Lig and replaced by the top three teams in that division. Of the founding teams in Turkish football league, only Beşiktaş JK, Fenerbahçe SK and Galatasaray SK have not been relegated. Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe are the most successful clubs; have won 19 titles, respectively, as of 2014[update]. No other club has won the title on more than five occasions; the most recent club other than Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray to win the league is Bursaspor in the 2009–10 season. Galatasaray has won the Turkish version of The Double the most, having won the league and cup in the same year five times in its history. Galatasaray is the only Turkish team that has won a European cup, which is the UEFA Europa League, along with the league and Türkiye Kupası in the same season.
Football in Turkey stems back to the late 19th century, when Englishmen brought the game with them while living in Thessaloníki. The first league competition was the Istanbul Football League, which took place in 1904–05. The first champions were Imogene FC. The league went through several variations until the creation of the Milli Lig in 1959. Between the creation of the Istanbul Football League and Milli Lig, several other city leagues took place: Adana (1923), Ankara (1923), Eskişehir (1920), Izmir (1923), Kayseri (1936), and Trabzon (1923). The Milli Küme was the first step towards a national league competition. Started in 1937, the Milli Küme was an inter-city competition between clubs in Ankara, Istanbul, and İzmir. The competition lasted until 1950. The Federation Cup was created in 1956 and used as a cup competition to decide a champion. This champion would go on to participate in the European Cup. The cup competition was held for two years until it was replaced by the Milli Lig. Beşiktaş won both times, and represented twice Turkey in the European Cup during the two-year span.
The 2.Lig (Second League) was created at the start of the 1963–64 season and the Milli Lig or Turkish National League became known as the 1.Lig (First League). Before the creation of a second league, the bottom three clubs competed with regional league winners in a competition called the Baraj Games. The top three teams of the seven team group were promoted to the Milli Lig. After the creation of a new second division in 2001, known as the 1.Lig, the formerly titled 1.Lig became the Süper Lig.
*NOTE:Beşiktaş formally requested that championships won in the 1956/57 and 1957/58 versions of the Turkish Federation Cup be counted as Turkish Professional First Division championships to the Turkish Football Federation. The ruling on this matter was announced in a press release on March 25, 2002 which indicated that the championships won by Beşiktaş in the Turkish Federation Cup will be considered as national championships but the Turkish Federation Cup can not be considered as the precursor to the Turkish Professional First Division (later named Süper Lig) and as such these titles can not be categorized as a Turkish Professional First Division (or Süper Lig) titles. Based on this ruling, the Turkish Federation Cup wins by Beşiktaş count towards the star rating system, giving Beşiktaş two more championships for the purposes of the star rating system than the number of Süper Lig titles won by the club.