List of association football clubs playing in the league of another country
There are a number of football clubs around the world that are based in one country/territory but play in another's football league. Conditions for competing in a "foreign" league, as well as in a continental/confederational competition, are set case-by-case by FIFA as well as the respective confederation and national football associations involved.
Clubs which are located in defunct nations that merged with others, new nations separated from others, or which stopped competing in a nation's league system because their locale was transferred to another nation, are not included in this article.
United Kingdom and Ireland
As a result of the history of football in the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom has four FIFA member countries instead of one. Clubs that play outside what would be regarded as their 'home country' include:
England / Scotland
- Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish football league system (Scottish League Two as of 2013–14), due to its proximity to the Scottish border.
- None at present.
- Gretna played in the English football league system until 2002 when they were elected to the Scottish Football League. They folded in 2008.
England / Wales
- The New Saints (formerly Total Network Solutions), one of only two fully professional clubs in the Welsh Premier League, represents both the Welsh village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain and the English town of Oswestry (the two places are 8 miles/13 km apart), since its merger in 2003 with financially troubled Oswestry Town, an English club which played in the Welsh football structure. Since the 2007–08 season, they play in Oswestry, while previously playing in Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain. As regular contenders to the Welsh Premier League title and Welsh Cup, The New Saints have represented Wales in European competitions.
- Trefonen play in the Welsh football league system (Montgomeryshire League).
- Newcastle from Newcastle, Shropshire play in the Welsh football league system (Mid Wales South League).
- Bucknell from Bucknell, Shropshire play in the Welsh football league system (Mid Wales South League).
- Bishop's Castle did play in the Montgomeryshire League, but moved to the Shropshire County League (in the English football league system) in 2010.
- Swansea City play in the Premier League
- Cardiff City will play the 2014–15 season in the Championship
- Newport County play in League Two
- Wrexham play in the Conference Premier
- Colwyn Bay play in the Conference North
- Merthyr Town play in the Southern Football League South & West Division
Although all the above clubs play in the English football league system and are allowed to compete in the FA Cup, Wrexham, Colwyn Bay and Merthyr Town are under the jurisdiction of the Football Association of Wales for disciplinary and administration purposes. Swansea City, Cardiff City and Newport County previously had the same governance until an arrangement was made with the FA for the 2011–12 season onwards which sees Welsh clubs playing in the top four divisions of English football under the governance of the FA.
Cardiff City (1921–29, 1952–57 and 1960–62) and Swansea City (1981–83) have played in the old Football League First Division, the top division of English football at that time. Cardiff City are also the only non-English side to have won the FA Cup, winning it in 1927; they again reached the final in 2008, prompting the English FA to change the rules to allow Welsh clubs to represent England in UEFA competitions should they qualify to do so. Swansea City won the 2012–13 Football League Cup, and are the first Wales-based club to qualify for a European competition through a place reserved for the English Football Association.
The following Welsh clubs have also played in the English football league system:
The following defunct Welsh clubs also played in the English league system:
Until 1995, the above clubs were allowed to participate in the Welsh Cup, and represented Wales in the Cup Winners' Cup if they won. Clubs playing in those parts of England close to the Welsh border could also play in the Welsh Cup by invitation, but could not represent Wales if they won.
- In addition, Deva Stadium, home to Chester and previously to the defunct Chester City, straddles the England-Wales border, and its entire pitch is in Wales (though the club offices, which are part of the stadium complex, are in England).
Republic of Ireland / Northern Ireland
- Two different clubs bearing the name Derry City have played in the Republic of Ireland football league system:
- The original club, founded in 1928, played in the Northern Ireland football league system until 1972, when it was expelled from the Irish Football League due to issues related to The Troubles. The club then spent 13 years without a league until being admitted to the second level of the League of Ireland in 1985. Two years later, they earned promotion to the League of Ireland's first level, and continued there until their expulsion in 2009 for financial mismanagement. The club was dissolved shortly thereafter.
- A new Derry City club, which considers itself to be a continuation of the original, was founded in January 2010, and was admitted to the second level of the League of Ireland starting with that season. They returned to the top flight at the first opportunity by winning the First Division title.
Derry City have won the league titles of both Northern Ireland (1964–65) and the Republic of Ireland (1988–89, 1996–97), and also the cup titles of both Northern Ireland (1948–49, 1953–54, 1963–64) and the Republic of Ireland (1988–89, 1994–95, 2002, 2006, 2012), and have represented both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in European club competitions.
Guernsey / England
- UE Bossòst play in the French football league system (Ligue Haute Garonne Comminges - Categorie Excellence).
- FC Büsingen play in the Swiss football league system, as Büsingen is a German exclave surrounded by Switzerland.
- AP Campionese play in the Swiss football league system, as Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave surrounded by Switzerland.
- FC Balzers
- USV Eschen/Mauren
- FC Ruggell
- FC Schaan
- FC Triesen
- FC Triesenberg
- FC Vaduz (returning to the Swiss Super League for the 2014–15 season, after last having played in that league in 2008–09. They are the only Liechtenstein club to have ever played in the top level of Swiss football.)
All clubs in Liechtenstein play in the Swiss football league system, as Liechtenstein has no properly recognized league of its own. These clubs also compete in the Liechtenstein Football Cup, which is effectively the championship of Liechtenstein, with the winner representing Liechtenstein in the UEFA Europa League. Liechtenstein clubs do not play in the Swiss Cup, and are not eligible for qualification to European competitions via the Swiss league system.
- AS Monaco FC play in the French football league system (Ligue 1 since 2013–14), as Monaco does not have a professional league. They are one of the most successful clubs in France having won seven Ligue 1, five Coupe de France and one Coupe de la Ligue titles, and have also represented France in European competitions, reaching the final of the now-defunct UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1992 and of the UEFA Champions League in 2004.
Additionally, Evian Thonon Gaillard applied in 2010-11 to play across the border in nearby Geneva, Switzerland (sharing with FC Servette), due to its own facilities being inadequate for top division French football; however, despite French Football Federation support, UEFA denied it, and Evian ended up playing in Annecy, sharing with Annecy F.C.
- San Marino Calcio play in the Italian football league system (Lega Pro Prima Divisione).
- A.C. Juvenes/Dogana played in both the Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio and the Italian amateur levels until the 2006-07 season. Now they play only in the Sammarinese league. Juvenes/Dogana was founded in 2000 after the merger of S.S. Juvenes and G.S. Dogana: both clubs played in Italy at the time of the merger.
The home league of San Marino was established only in 1985. Before that year, other Sammarinese teams have competed in the Italian system (i.e. A.C. Libertas and San Marino Calcio forerunners Libertas-Tre Penne), though only San Marino Calcio is allowed to take part to the system and also to Coppa Italia exclusively.
- FC Chiasso played in the Italian league system between 1914 and 1923.
- Olympiakos Nicosia played in Greece in 1967–68, 1969–70, and 1971–72.
- AEL Limassol played in Greece in 1968–69.
- EPA Larnaca FC played in Greece in 1970–71.
- AC Omonia played in Greece in 1972–73.
- APOEL F.C. played in Greece in 1973–74.
- SV Kleinwalsertal has played in Germany since the 1960s, playing in the tier twelve B-Klasse Allgäu 6 in 2011–12.
- From 1938 to 1945, Austrian clubs participated in the German Gauliga system because Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany. Additionally, a number of clubs from France, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia and Poland also played in the German league system during their occupation.
- IF Fram 1999-2011 and possibly earlier
- IF Östernäskamraterna 2004-2007
- Eckerö IF 2005-2009
- Jomala IK 2000-2005 and possibly earlier
- Lemlands IF 2011- still plays in Swedish league system
- IF Finströms Kamraterna 2002-2003
- IF Start 2004
All clubs are based in the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland with an ethnic Swedish population.
- JS Massira, from the Moroccan controlled city of El Aaiún in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, plays in Botola 2, the second division of the Moroccan Football League.
Many North American sports leagues are made up of teams from different countries—three of the four largest professional leagues have teams representing cities on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. This phenomenon can also be seen in soccer leagues. Although foreign clubs can and do participate in leagues based in the United States, no such team is eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup, which is only open to teams affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer). They are also not eligible to represent the United States in the CONCACAF Champions League. Those teams that do participate in U.S. leagues also participate in various competitions under their local federations to gain entry into the Champions League.
- Antigua Barracuda FC played in the USL Pro from 2011 to 2013. The team was forced to play its entire 2013 schedule on the road due to issues with its home stadium, normally a cricket ground, and folded after that season.
- Bermuda Hogges, before folding at the end of the 2012 season, played in the USL Premier Development League (PDL). The team began as a member of the USL Second Division (the effective predecessor to USL Pro), but self-relegated to the PDL after the 2009 season. Many of the players appeared for the Bermuda national team.
→ : Canadian in the United States
Major League Soccer (MLS) and the current North American Soccer League (NASL) are based in the United States, but occupy the top levels of both the American and Canadian soccer pyramids.
- Toronto FC have played in MLS since 2007.
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined MLS in 2011. A member of the USL First Division through 2009, the Whitecaps broke away from the USL to join the new NASL for 2010. However, after neither the NASL nor USL-1 received official sanctioning, they played the 2010 season in the temporary USSF Division 2.
- The Montreal Impact joined MLS in 2012. Their predecessors of the same name had played the previous three seasons in three different leagues—the USL First Division in 2009, the temporary USSF Division 2 in 2010, and the new NASL in 2011.
- FC Edmonton started playing in the new NASL in 2011.
- Ottawa Fury FC began play in the NASL in 2014, replacing a PDL team of the same name.
- Several Canadian clubs played in previous incarnations of the NASL, including:
- Forest City London, K-W United, Thunder Bay Chill, Toronto Lynx (which had played in the USL A-League/First Division until 2006), Victoria Highlanders, and WSA Winnipeg are standalone teams playing in the PDL. In addition, two Canadian MLS teams, the Impact and Whitecaps, field under-23 sides in the PDL. Former Canadian PDL teams include the Abbotsford Mariners, Hamilton Rage, original Ottawa Fury, and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency (replaced by Whitecaps U-23).
The top five professional clubs in Canada (Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Edmonton, and Ottawa Fury FC) contest the Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup to determine Canada's entrant into the CONCACAF Champions League.
As in the men's game, the women's soccer pyramid contains leagues that operate on both sides of the border. The current top level, the National Women's Soccer League, operates solely in the U.S., although it receives financial backing from all three North American federations (U.S. Soccer, Canadian Soccer Association, Mexican Football Federation). One of the second-level leagues, the W-League, has six Canadian members—K-W United, Laval Comets, London Gryphons, Ottawa Fury Women, Quebec City Amiral, and Toronto Lady Lynx.
- The Puerto Rico Islanders played in the new NASL in the league's first two seasons of 2011 and 2012; the team did not play in 2013 and will not play in 2014 due to restructuring. They plan to return in 2015. The Islanders had played in the USL First Division in 2009 and USSF Division 2 in 2010. Even though Puerto Rico is a dependent territory of the United States, it has a separate football federation, the Puerto Rican Football Federation. The highest level of competition within Puerto Rico is the Puerto Rico Soccer League, which the team do not usually participate in (however, they played in the 2010 season when it was played in a shortened format). The Islanders have represented Puerto Rico at the CFU Club Championship and the CONCACAF Champions League.
- Sevilla FC Puerto Rico, Club Atlético River Plate Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico United were initially going to play in USL Pro in the 2011 season, but were removed due to severe economic difficulties.
China / Hong Kong
- Lanwa FC played in the Hong Kong First Division League for three seasons from 2005 to 2008. While Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, it has its own football federation and professional league.
- Sheffield United and Xiangxue Eisiti were both reserve teams of clubs based in mainland China which played in the 2008–09 Hong Kong First Division League season. However, both teams actually played their home games in Hong Kong.
Singapore / Malaysia / Brunei
- The Football Association of Singapore used to enter a team in the Malaysian league, but pulled out after the 1994 season following a dispute with the Football Association of Malaysia over gate receipts, and launched its own S.League. From 2012, a new Singapore representative side, based around the Under-23 team will participate in both the Malaysia Super League and the Malaysia Cup.
- As part of a two-way arrangement with the Football Association of Singapore, the Football Association of Malaysia will enter a representative side based around the Under-23 team in the S-League from 2012.
- DPMM FC played in the Malaysia Premier League in 2006, and the Malaysia Super League in 2007 and 2008.
- The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam used to enter a team in the Malaysian league.
- DPMM FC play in the S.League, starting in 2009, after getting kicked out the Malaysia Super League for the 2009 season (see below). They were also invited to take part in the Singapore Cup in 2007. Since the FIFA ban on the Brunei FA in 2009, DPMM FC have suspended their participation and resumed it only in 2012.
Besides DPMM FC, a number of "foreign" teams have also played in the S.League. These clubs, while playing their home games in Singapore, are either satellite teams of foreign clubs or are made up exclusively of foreign players:
- Albirex Niigata Singapore FC (a satellite team of Albirex Niigata, a top-level professional club in Japan's J. League)
- Beijing Guoan Talent Singapore FC (a satellite team of Beijing Guoan F.C., a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Dalian Shide Siwu FC (a satellite team of Dalian Haichang, a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Etoile FC (made up of players of French origin)
- Liaoning Guangyuan FC (a satellite team of Liaoning FC, a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Sinchi FC (a team made up of players from China)
- Sporting Afrique FC (made up of players of African origin)
- Yishun Super Reds FC (made up of players from South Korea)
As of 2011, only Albirex Niigata Singapore FC and Etoile FC play in the S.League. The foreign teams are not allowed to represent Singapore in AFC club competitions such as the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup. Moreover, due to the presence of foreign teams in the S.League, the AFC does not allow S.League teams to participate in the AFC Champions League since 2011.
In recent years, foreign clubs from other countries have also been invited to participate in the Singapore Cup.
- Wellington Phoenix play in the A-League, starting from the 2007–08 season.
- New Zealand Knights played in the National Soccer League from 1999 to 2004 (as Football Kingz FC) and in the A-League from 2005 to 2007.
As New Zealand is a member of OFC and Australia is a member of AFC since moving from OFC in 2006, Wellington Phoenix are playing in the league of a member of another football confederation. As per agreement with FIFA, AFC and OFC, Wellington Phoenix are not allowed to participate in the AFC Champions League. They also do not participate in the OFC Champions League, as New Zealand is represented by clubs from its football league, the New Zealand Football Championship. Wellington Phoenix are the only extant professional football team in New Zealand; the New Zealand Football Championship is amateur.
Note that it is not uncommon for New Zealand teams to play in Australian professional sports leagues—the National Rugby League (rugby league) and National Basketball League both have one team from New Zealand, and the Women's National Basketball League had a New Zealand team in the 2007–08 season (the men's basketball league also formerly included a team from Singapore). This phenomenon is most pronounced in rugby union and netball. The Super Rugby competition, a joint enterprise between the governing bodies of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, has had five teams from each of the three countries since 2011. The ANZ Championship in netball has featured five teams each from Australia and New Zealand since its formation in 2008.
- Scott, Matt (6 May 2011). "Football Association breaks Welsh jurisdiction over Cardiff and Swansea". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- FA approves Cardiff for Uefa Cup
- Twydell, Dave (5 November 2001). Denied F.C.: The Football League Election Struggles. Harefield: Yore Publications. p. 24. ISBN 1-85983-512-0.
- BK Allgäu 6 BFV website, accessed: 29 July 2011
- Singapore seek to pull out of ACL
- Ad hoc Committee for Professional Clubs