Thimphu League

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Thimphu League
Country  Bhutan
Confederation AFC
Founded 2001; 16 years ago (2001)
Number of teams 6[1]
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to B-Division
Current champions Thimphu City
Most championships Druk Pol FC (8 titles)

The Thimphu Premier League (or the Pepsi Thimphu League for sponsorship reasons)[2], previously known as the Bhutan A-Division was until 2012 the top division of football in Bhutan, but has been surpassed by the Bhutan National League. The A-Division continues to exist as essentially a qualifying tournament for the National League, there being no direct promotion and relegation between the two leagues at the end of a given season, although it operates as the top league in a separate three-tier pyramid system for clubs playing in and around Thimphu.


The Thimphu League has taken a number of formats during its history. Initially, the competition was held as a single round-robin group of matches, with all games being held at the national stadium, Changlimithang.[3] In 2001, the format of football played was very similar to the current set up, with a Thimpu league (including a team from Paro) taking part in a qualifying contest to join other teams from different Dzongkhags for a genuine national league.[4] However, the main focus of the league has been on Thimpu-based teams.

By 2005, the league had settled into its current format, namely a home and away set of round robin matches (although with all games played at Changlimithang, the notion of "home" and "away" is moot). Three points are gained for a win and one for a draw with no points for a loss. The team with the highest number of points is declared the champion. If two teams finish on equal points then goal difference is used to determine the winner, with goals scored being the next criterion considered if goal difference cannot separate the teams. The top four teams currently (although it was previously only the top three) qualify for that season's Bhutan National League. There is no promotion or relegation between the Thimphu League and the National League and neither does strong performance in one edition of the National League ensure competition the next season.[1]

The Thimphu League sits at the head of a three tier-pyramid system with nominal promotion and relegation between each division at the end of each season. Whilst there has been promotion and relegation in the past, it is not necessarily guaranteed. Sometimes the following season's competitors are decided by a play off between the top teams in the B-Division and the bottom teams in the A-Division, as in 2013,[5] sometimes the relegation is automatic as in 2012[6] and sometimes there appears to be none such as in 2010.[7]


Under its previous name, the A-Division was formally named as such in 2001,[4] following five years of competition under a different, unknown name between 1996 and 2000[8] and what appears to have been a one-off competition in 1986.[3]

The initial A-Division season, as noted above consisted of a Thimphu-based qualifying round, followed by an essentially national competition, albeit hosted in Phuentsholing.[4] Druk Star broke the domination of Druk Pol by winning the A-Division that season.[4] In 2002 the league continued to include teams from outside of Thimphu, but this time, there were no teams from Gomtu or Samtse, only from Phuentsholing and Paro.[9] By 2003, all non-Thimphu teams had dropped out of the league to be replaced by others from the capital city who contested a single round-robin series of matches.

In 2003, a full league pyramid was established in Bhutan, with the A-Division at its head. There were nine A division clubs and nine B division clubs competing in the national league. The Bhutan football federation (BFF) introduced C division clubs, from this year, to participate in the national league. About 12 to 14 C division clubs are thought to have participated.[10] Based on the performance in the national league, the two best teams from C division will from this point be promoted to the B division. Likewise, two B division teams will move up to A division. On the other hand, the weakest team in each division will be demoted to a lower division.[10]

Details are scant for 2004, but it is known that this was the first time that Bhutan submitted an entrant for any AFC tournament, with that season's champion, Transport United being awarded Bhutan's slot in the 2005 AFC President's Cup.[11] This cemented the A-Division's position as the premier football competition in the country and it continued to supply Bhutan's President's cup entrant until the creation of the National League.

The league settled into its Thimpu-focussed home and away set up by 2005 at the latest.[12] This season would see the beginning of the dominance of Transport United, who picked up their second successive title and would go on to win another two to make it four in a row, only bettered by Druk Pol's performance prior to the formalisation of the A-Division.[8] However, following their final title in 2007, they began to slip down the league table, finishing second in 2008[13] and spending several seasons in mid-table obscurity before finally being relegated to the B-Division in 2012.[6] As Transport United slipped, so Yeedzin were poised to take their place, winning four titles and taking one second place in the next six seasons.[8]

2011 however, was the last edition where the A-Division held the premier spot in Bhutan's football pyramid. In an attempt to spread the popularity of the game around the country, a National League was established.[14] The Division continues in its usual format, but now no longer supplies Bhutan's entrant to the AFC President's Cup. Instead the top teams from the Thimphu League qualify to compete in the National League against several teams from different districts.

In 2015 the A-Division was renamed the Thimphu League (the Yanmar Thimphu League for sponsorship reasons) reflecting the National League's position as the preeminent football competition in the country.[15]

Current clubs (2016 season)[edit]

Location of teams participating in the 2014 Thimphu League.


The Thimphu League is a regional competition for teams from Thimphu. the competition consists of seven teams, each plays the others twice – home and away – for a total of 12 games each, over 14 game weeks. 3 points are awarded for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. the league table is decided firstly on points won, then on goal difference and finally on total goals scored if the previous two are equal. The first three teams automatically qualify for the National league, the bottom two teams compete in relegation playoffs with the top two teams from the B-Division for two places in the next seasons's competition.[16]

Past Winners[edit]

A national league has been running since 1986. However, the A-division itself was not formed until 2001. Champions were:[8]

Bhutan A-Division Winners
Season Winner Runner-up Third place
2016 Thimphu City Thimphu Druk United
2015 Terton Thimphu Thimphu City
2014 Druk United Thimphu City Druk Pol
2013 Yeedzin Thimphu City Dzongree
2012 Druk Pol Zimdra Dzongree
2011 Yeedzin Zimdra Druk Pol
2010 Yeedzin Druk Pol Transport United
2009 Druk Star Yeedzin Druk Pol
2008 Yeedzin Transport United Royal Bhutan Army
2007 Transport United Druk Pol Druk Star
2006 Transport United unknown Royal Bhutan Army
2005 Transport United Druk Pol Yeedzin
2004 Transport United unknown unknown
2003 Druk Pol Dzongree Transport United
2002 Druk Pol unknown unknown
2001 Druk Star Samtse Thimpu
2000 Druk Pol unknown unknown
1999 Druk Pol unknown unknown
1998 Druk Pol unknown unknown
1997 Druk Pol unknown unknown
1996 Druk Pol unknown unknown
1987–1995 unknown unknown unknown
1986 Royal Bhutan Army Social Service Finance


Bhutan A-Division winners by teams
Team Winners Runners-up Third place Years won Years runner-up Years third
Druk Pol 8 3 3 1996, 1997, 1998,
1999, 2000, 2002,
2003, 2012
2005, 2007, 2010 2009, 2011, 2014
Transport United 4 1 2 2004, 2005, 2006,
2008 2003, 2010
Yeedzin 4 1 1 2008, 2010, 2011,
2009 2012
Thimphu City 1 4 1 2016 2011*, 2012*, 2013,
Royal Bhutan Army 1 0 2 1986 2006, 2008
Druk Star 1 0 1 2001 2007
Terton 1 0 0 2015
Druk United 1 0 1 2014 2016
Thimphu 0 2 0 2015, 2016
Dzongree 0 1 1 2003 2013
Samtse 0 1 0 2001
Social Service 0 1 0 1986
Finance 0 0 1 1986

*Thimphu City were runners-up in 2011 and 2012 competing as Zimdra.


Year Top Scorer Team Goals
2007 Bhutan Passang Tshering Transport United 28[17]


  1. ^ a b Stokkermans, Karel; Jigmi, Sonam (22 May 2014). "Bhutan 2014". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Pepsi Partners with BFF". Bhutan Football Federation. Retrieved 16 May 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Burns, Peter; Makdissi, Albert (31 July 2003). "Bhutan 1986". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d Schöggl, Hans; King, Ian (31 Jul 2003). "Bhutan 2001". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Schöggl, Hans; Stokkermans, Karel; Jigmi, Sonam (20 Feb 2014). "Bhutan 2013". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Schöggl, Hans; Stokkermans, Karel; Jigmi, Sonam (28 Feb 2013). "Bhutan 2012". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Stokkermans, Karel; Chhetri, Dinesh; Dorji, Mindu (13 Sep 2012). "Bhutan 2010". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Schöggl, Hans; Abbink, Dinant (28 May 2014). "Bhutan – List of Champions". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Schöggl, Hans (31 Jul 2003). "Bhutan 2002". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Schöggl, Hans; Hai Naveed, Malik Riaz (5 Jun 2004). "Bhutan 2003". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Schöggl, Hans (4 Jan 2006). "Bhutan 2004". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Schöggl, Hans (4 Oct 2006). "Bhutan 2005". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Schöggl, Hans (9 Jul 2009). "Bhutan 2008". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Aletta, André (10 October 2013). "Soccer minnow Bhutan strives for greatness on the pitch". Deutche Welle. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  15. ^ Stokkermans, Karel; Jigmi, Sonam (23 July 2015). "Bhutan 2015". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  16. ^ "Thimphu League – 2015 Rules". Perform Group. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  17. ^ Schöggl, Hans (11 Jul 2008). "Bhutan 2007". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 

External links[edit]