Azerbaijan Premier League
|Number of teams||10|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Azerbaijan First Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||Azerbaijan Cup
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
|Current champions||Qarabağ (3 titles)
|Most championships||Neftchi Baku (8 titles)|
|TV partners||AzTV, Idman Azerbaijan TV|
|2014–15 Azerbaijan Premier League|
The Azerbaijan Premier League (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Premyer Liqası), currently named Topaz Premyer Liqası after its main sponsor, is the top tier in Azerbaijani club football. The league is contested by 12 teams, in which the season runs from August to May. The winner gets a second round play off spot in the UEFA Champions League.
The Azerbaijan Premier League was organized in 2007 and succeeded the Top Division (Azerbaijani: Yüksək Liqa), the difference being that the Top Division was run by the Professional Football League of Azerbaijan, and the creation of the Premier League gave the clubs a greater degree of independence. The Top Division had existed from 1992 to 2007.
- 1 History
- 2 Competition format
- 3 Finances
- 4 UEFA ranking
- 5 Media coverage
- 6 Members of the Azerbaijan Premier League (2014–15 season)
- 7 Statistics
- 8 Players
- 9 Awards
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The league were dominated by teams like Neftchi Baku, Kapaz, Turan Tovuz and Shamkir. However, financial struggles had bad impact on local clubs and most teams such as Khazri Buzovna, Shamkir, Vilash Masalli and Shafa Baku went bust due increasing debts. In 1997, Kapaz were known for their unbeaten run as club's final record for the 1997–1998 league campaign stood at 22 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses, out of 26 games total, an unbeaten run not matched in any single season by any team in an Azerbaijani league division.
As league entered a new century, the Neftchi Baku found themselves facing new challengers. They were challenged by emerging Khazar Lankaran, Inter Baku and Baku in both competitions. The country's football received major blow in 2002, when UEFA imposed a two-year ban in response to a long-standing conflict between the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and majority of the country's top flight clubs. The domestic championship was abandoned as a result of the conflict and the top clubs prevented their players from playing for the national team, with tax officials also probing allegations of fraud at the Azerbaijan federation. Under the management of Agaselim Mirjavadov, Khazar Lankaran finished as Azerbaijan Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, while becoming league champions in 2006 despite losing the title to Neftchi in 2004 during Championship play-off. Qarabağ was the first ever team from Azerbaijan to reach UEFA Europa League play off-round during the seasons 2009-10 and 2010-11. Few gave chances for qualification to the next round, although the Aghdam side caused quite a stir against favorites Rosenborg, Honka, Twente and Wisła Kraków.
The 2010s brought a bright start, with Neftchi emerged as a champion after six years of unsuccessful run. In the next season, Neftchi repeated its domestic success after sealing their seventh title in club's history. In that year, Neftchi Baku became the first Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition. In 2012–13 season, Neftchi managed to win three titles in a row. In 2013–14 season, Qarabağ managed to win its 2nd title after 21 years. In 2014, Qarabağ became the second Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition.
The competition format follows the usual double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays every other club four times, two times at home and two times away, for a total of 36 games. Teams receive three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, with the highest-ranked club at the end of the season crowned champion.
A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Azerbaijan Premier League and the Azerbaijan First Division. The two lowest placed teams in Premier League are relegated to the First Division, and the top two teams from the First Division promoted to Premier League. Below is a complete record of how many teams played in each season throughout the league's history;
Qualification for European competitions
The champions qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the second and third placed teams qualifies for the UEFA Europa League. As of the start of the 2011–12 Premier League season qualification for European competitions is as follows: champions qualify for the second qualifying stage of the UEFA Champions League, runners-up and third placed team qualifies for the first qualifying round of the Europa League. A fourth spot is given to the winner of the Azerbaijan Cup, who qualify for the first round of the Europa League. If the Azerbaijan Cup winner has already qualified for European competition through their league finish, then the runners-up take their place in the first round. If the runners-up have also qualified, the next highest placed club in the league takes their place.
Due to its relatively low income from television, Azerbaijani clubs are highly dependent on revenues from commercial partners and club owners.
|†League was cancelled||-||-||-|
The UniBank, who had sponsored the league since 2009, did not renew their sponsorship at the end of the 2011–12 season. Talks began with Topaz betting operator, and a deal was confirmed shortly afterwards.
As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Premier League has a number of official partners and suppliers. The official ball supplier for the league is Adidas who is providing their Cafusa match ball for the season.
Since the APL began, five of its member clubs have entered administration, while nearly twenty clubs liquidated. A reduction in revenue from ticket sales for APL games and club merchandise impacted negatively on club expenditure. Players were asked to consider wage cuts and team squads were reduced.
A major criticism of the Premier League in the mid-2000s was the emergence of gulf between the Premier League and the First Division. Criticism of the gap between clubs has continued, nevertheless, due to some clubs' increasing ability to spend more than the other Premier League clubs. For some clubs, including Shamkir, Karvan, Absheron, MKT-Araz who have failed to win immediate promotion back to the top flight, financial problems, including in some cases administration or even liquidation have followed.
UEFA Country Ranking for league participation in 2013–14 European football season.
|29||(30)||Slovak First Football League||12.875|
|30||(32)||Azerbaijan Premier League||11.250|
|31||(28)||Nemzeti Bajnokság I||11.000|
|32||(34)||Kazakhstan Premier League||10.375|
|33||(32)||Moldovan National Division||10.000|
Last Updated: 29 August 2014.
Members of the Azerbaijan Premier League (2014–15 season)
The format of the league not change as a total of 10 teams will contest the league, with the last club relegated and Araz-Naxçıvan promoted from the First Division. The competition format follows the usual double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays every other club four times, twice at home and twice away, for a total of 36 games.
Stadia and locations
- Note: Table lists in alphabetical order.
|Araz-Naxçıvan||Nakhchivan||Nakhchivan City Stadium||11,800|
|Baku||Baku||FC Baku's Training Base||2,000|
|Gabala||Gabala||Gabala City Stadium||8,000|
|Inter Baku||Baku||Inter Arena||10,000|
|Khazar Lankaran||Lankaran||Lankaran City Stadium||15,000|
|Neftchi Baku||Baku||Bakcell Arena||11,000|
|Qarabağ||Agdam||Tofiq Bahramov Stadium||31,200|
|Simurq||Zaqatala||Zaqatala City Stadium||3,500|
|Sumgayit||Sumqayit||Kapital Bank Arena||16,000|
Players in the Premier League compete for the Azerbaijan Premier League Golden Boot, awarded to the top scorer at the end of each season. Nazim Aliyev is the league's all-time top scorer with 183 goals, including 39 in the 1992 season. During the 1995–96 season he became the first player to score 100 Premier League goals. Since then, 10 other players have reached the 100-goal mark.
|1||Nazim Aliyev||1992–1999||Neftchi Baku||183|
|4||Gurban Gurbanov||1990–2006||Neftchi Baku||115|
|5||Samir Alakbarov||1992–2001||Neftchi Baku||115|
|6||Alay Bahramov||1992–1999||Viləş Masallı||108|
|7||Vadim Vasilyev||1994–2007||Baki Fehlesi||102|
|8||Khagani Mammadov||1994–2012||Inter Baku||102|
|8||Mubariz Orujov||1992–2008||Khazar Lankaran||311|
|10||Adehim Niftaliyev||1995–2011||Khazar Lankaran||303|
- Biggest home win
- Neftchi Baku 11–0 Şahdağ Qusar (1999–00)
- Most consecutive games unbeaten
- Kəpəz, 30 games, 1997-98
- Youngest goalscorer
- Orkhan Aliyev, for Sumgayit vs Gabala, 15 years old, 236 days
- Oldest player
- Nadir Shukurov, for Karvan vs Mughan, 42 years, 19 April 2009
- All-time top scorer
- Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit, Neftchi, Qarabag, Shafa Baku, Dinamo Baku), (183 goals)
- Most APL appearances
- Azer Mammadov, 445
- Most goals in a season
- Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit), (39 goals), 1992
Champions and top scorers
Performance by club
||1992, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13|
||1994–95, 1997–98, 1998–99|
||1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02|
||1993, 2013–14, 2014–15|
Azerbaijan SSR champions
Azerbaijan Premier League clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players – all players with foreign nationality, including those able to claim a passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain Azerbaijani work permits.
The only restriction on selection is the "Under-21 rule". This rule states that each club must include at least two players under the age of 21 in its matchday squad. Opinions on this rule appear to be divided among APL managers.
The current Azerbaijan Premier League trophy was developed by the Professional Football League of Azerbaijan and the trophy has been awarded to the champion of Azerbaijan since the end of the 2009–10 season, replacing the previous Premier League trophy that had existed for only few years.
Monthly and annual
In addition to the winner's Trophy and the individual winner's medal players receive, Azerbaijan Premier League also awards the monthly Player of the Month award. Following the season, the awards such as the Player of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Young Player of the Year from Azerbaijan Premier League are handed out.
- Azerbaijan First Division
- Azerbaijan Cup
- Football in Azerbaijan
- Soviet Top League
- List of foreign Azerbaijan Premier League players
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- UEFA Country Ranking 2012
- "Телехозяин" азербайджанского чемпионата (Russian)
- Снова АзТВ (Russian)
- Заключено соглашение, дающее право эксклюзивного показа матчей чемпионата и Кубка Азербайджана по футболу (Russian)
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- Azərbaycan Peşəkar Liqası (Azerbaijani)
- Ekspress Newspaper (Azerbaijani)
- ""100-lər klubu" üçün het-trik". Football Plus Newspaper (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- where player shot the most goals
- "Premyer Liqamızın ilk "11"i". apasport.az (in Azerbaijani). Apasport News Agency. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
- where player played the most games.
- ПАС ИЗ-ЗА ГРАНИЦЫ. Sports Express Newspaper (in Russian). Retrieved 11 December 2011.
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- Azerbaijan 2002/03
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- Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan Official website
- Azerbaijani Professional Football League Official website
- League at UEFA
- Azerbaijan - List of Champions, RSSSF.com