Persian Gulf Pro League

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Persian Gulf Pro League
لیگ برتر خلیج فارس
Persian Gulf Pro League Logo.png
Country Iran
Confederation AFC
Founded 1970 officially
2001 with current format
Divisions 1
Number of teams 16
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Azadegan League
Domestic cup(s) Hazfi Cup
Iranian Super Cup
International cup(s) AFC Champions League
Current champions Esteghlal Khuzestan (1st title)
Most championships Persepolis (9 titles)
TV partners IRIB TV3, Jame Jam 1,
Varzesh
Website Iranleague.ir
2016–17 Persian Gulf Pro League

The Persian Gulf Pro League (Persian: لیگ برتر خلیج فارس‎‎) formerly known as Iran Pro League (IPL) (Persian: لیگ برتر فوتبال ایران‎‎), is a professional football league competition for clubs located at the highest level of the Iranian football league system. It was founded in 1970 as the Takht Jamshid Cup, but the current format was adopted in 2001. Contested by 16 teams, it is ranked by the Asian Football Confederation as the 2nd best league in Asia and the best league in Western Asia.

The Persian Gulf Pro League is the top tier of an extensive pyramid-like structure, above the Azadegan League (or 1st Division), the 2nd division, the 3rd Division and the lower local leagues. Since the league's creation in 2001, seven different teams have become league champions. Sepahan is the most successful club with five trophies.

History[edit]

Iranian League Winners
Seasons Winners Runners-up
1970–71 Taj Pas Tehran
1971–72 Persepolis Pas Tehran
1973–74 Persepolis Taj
1974–75 Taj Persepolis
1975–76 Persepolis Homa
1976–77 Pas Tehran Persepolis
1977–78 Pas Tehran Persepolis
1989–90 Esteghlal Persepolis
1991–92 Pas Tehran Esteghlal
1992–93 Pas Tehran Persepolis
1993–94 Saipa Persepolis
1994–95 Saipa Esteghlal
1995–96 Persepolis Bahman
1996–97 Persepolis Bahman
1997–98 Esteghlal Pas Tehran
1998–99 Persepolis Esteghlal
1999–2000 Persepolis Esteghlal
2000–01 Esteghlal Persepolis
2001–02 Persepolis Esteghlal
2002–03 Sepahan Pas Tehran
2003–04 Pas Tehran Esteghlal
2004–05 Foolad Zob Ahan
2005–06 Esteghlal Pas Tehran
2006–07 Saipa Esteghlal Ahvaz
2007–08 Persepolis Sepahan
2008–09 Esteghlal Zob Ahan
2009–10 Sepahan Zob Ahan
2010–11 Sepahan Esteghlal
2011–12 Sepahan Tractor Sazi
2012–13 Esteghlal Tractor Sazi
2013–14 Foolad Persepolis
2014–15 Sepahan Tractor Sazi
2015–16 Esteghlal Khuzestan Persepolis

Foundation[edit]

Before the 1970s, Iran did not have an official national league and most teams competed in their local leagues, the most popular being the Tehran Local League which featured teams like Pas Tehran, Persepolis, and Taj.

In 1970, the Local League was created. The league included teams from all Iran in different qualifying tournaments.

In 1972, the Takht Jamshid Cup was created as the national league and included teams from all over the country. Pas Tehran and Persepolis were the most successful clubs in the cup's five-year existence, each club winning the cup twice. In 1978, the league was abandoned because of the Iranian Revolution.

Due to the revolution and the Iran–Iraq War, football was no longer a priority. In 1985, the Qods League was created and was played among provincial teams. Tehran A and Esfahan were the most successful teams, each winning the league twice. In spite of many attempts to create a national league, the most important competition in Iran in the 1980s was the Tehran Clubs Cup in which Persepolis dominated.

In 1991, the Qods League was renamed the Azadegan League in honor of the Iranian prisoners of war who were released. Pas Tehran won the inaugural season of the league and Iran had a national league for the first time since the revolution. Pas Tehran, Persepolis, and Esteghlal were the league's most successful sides, with Pas and Esteghlal winning the Asian Club Championships and Persepolis winning the Asian Cup Winners' Cup. In 2001, the league was dissolved with the introduction of the new Iran Pro League.[citation needed]

Iran Pro League[edit]

The 2001–02 season saw the introduction of a professional football league in Iran.[1] The first winner of the Iran Pro League was Persepolis, who beat archrival Esteghlal by one point on the final match day. In the 2002–03 season, Sepahan won the league comfortably with seven points separating them and second placed Pas Tehran. In the 2003–04 season, Pas Tehran won their first title after coming in second place the previous year; defending champion Sepahan finished in the 6th place. The 2004–05 season was a surprising one as Foolad shockingly won the title, finishing on top by six points. In the 2005–06 season, Tehran club Esteghlal won their first league title, winning on the final day as they finished one point ahead of second placed team Pas Tehran.

Persian Gulf Cup[edit]

On August 12, 2006, the Iranian Football Federation decided to change the name of the league once again; it was changed to the Persian Gulf Cup.[2] This was done to promote the name of the Persian Gulf, instead of many variations that some nations and organizations use which Iran disputes. The logo of the league was also changed, with the winner being selected from over 130 designs and unveiled on November 14, 2006.[3]

Saipa was the 6th team to win the new edition of the league which meant six different teams won the league title in a row. However, Persepolis regained the title after six years in 2008 by a dramatic win against rivals Sepahan in the 96th minute of the final matchday and became the first team to win two titles in the new edition of the league. The next season, Esteghlal did the same thing and won the league for the second time on the final match day.

Sepahan's domestic dominance started in the 2009–10 season, where they won the league comfortably, a feat which they did again the following season. They also won the 2011–12 edition of the league; they had a more difficult job repeating the glory of the past years, they won it on the final match day for the third time in a row. They are the first club in the history of the Iran Pro League to win the league title 3 consecutive times. Sepahan's dominance ended in the 2012–13 season, when Esteghlal cruised to a comfortable league victory.

Before the start of the 2012–13 season, the IFF, who were recommended by Iran national football team manager Carlos Queiroz, announced that for the 2013–14 season the number of the teams will be reduced from 18 to 16, to increase the competitiveness of the league.

The 2013–14 season witnessed the closest title race since the league's inception. Coming into the last match day, 5 teams had the possibility of becoming champions; in the end, Foolad became champions after beating Gostaresh 1–0; while Persepolis finished second, two points behind Foolad. Although Sepahan beat Naft Tehran 1–0 on the final matchday, Naft Tehran finished third ahead of Sepahan because of better goal difference. With Esteghlal's 1–3 loss to Tractor Sazi, Esteghlal finished 5th and missed out on a Champions League spot for the first time in four years.

In the summer of 2014, the league's name was officially changed to Persian Gulf Pro League, and a new logo was made as well.

Current clubs (2016–17)[edit]

Team City Venue Capacity
Esteghlal Tehran Azadi 78,116
Esteghlal Khuzestan Ahvaz Ghadir 38,960
Foolad Ahvaz Ghadir 38,960
Gostaresh Tabriz Gostaresh Foulad 12,000
Machine Sazi Tabriz Bagh Shomal 25,000
Mashhad Mashhad Samen 35,000
Naft Tehran Tehran Takhti Tehran 30,122
Padideh Mashhad Samen 35,000
Paykan Tehran Shahr-e Qods 25,000
Persepolis Tehran Azadi 78,116
Saba Qom Qom Yadegar-e Emam 10,610
Saipa Tehran Shahid Dastgerdi 8,250
Sanat Naft Abadan Takhti Abadan 22,000
Sepahan Isfahan Naghsh-e-Jahan 75,000
Tractor Sazi Tabriz Yadegar-e-Emam 66,833
Zob Ahan Isfahan Foolad Shahr 15,000

Champions[edit]

Further information: Iranian football champions

List of champions by season since 2001[edit]

Season Winner No. IPL titles
[Total titles]
2001–02 Persepolis 1 [8]
2002–03 Sepahan 1 [1]
2003–04 Pas Tehran 1 [5]
2004–05 Foolad 1 [1]
2005–06 Esteghlal 1 [6]
2006–07 Saipa 1 [3]
2007–08 Persepolis 2 [9]
2008–09 Esteghlal 2 [7]
2009–10 Sepahan 2 [2]
2010–11 Sepahan 3 [3]
2011–12 Sepahan 4 [4]
2012–13 Esteghlal 3 [8]
2013–14 Foolad 2 [2]
2014–15 Sepahan 5 [5]
2015–16 Esteghlal Khuzestan 1 [1]

Most successful clubs since 2001 in Persian Gulf Pro League[edit]

Team Winners Runners-up Third Place
Sepahan 5 (2002–03, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2014–15) 1 (2007–08) 1 (2012–13)
Esteghlal 3 (2005–06, 2008–09, 2012–13) 3 (2001–02, 2003–04, 2010–11) 4 (2004–05, 2009–10, 2011–12, 2015–16)
Persepolis 2 (2001–02, 2007–08) 2 (2013–14, 2015–16) 2 (2002–03, 2006–07)
Foolad 2 (2004–05, 2013–14) 2 (2001–02, 2003–04)
Pas Tehran 1 (2003–04) 2 (2002–03, 2005–06)
Saipa 1 (2006–07) 1 (2005–06)
Esteghlal Khuzestan 1 (2015–16)
Zob Ahan 3 (2004–05, 2008–09, 2009–10) 1 (2010–11)
Tractor Sazi 3 (2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15)
Esteghlal Ahvaz 1 (2006–07)
Naft Tehran 2 (2013–14, 2014–15)

All-time Persian Gulf Pro League standings[edit]

Season Persepolis Esteghlal Sepahan
2001–02 1 2 9
2002–03 3 9 1
2003–04 5 2 6
2004–05 4 3 10
2005–06 9 1 7
2006–07 3 4 5
2007–08 1 13 2
2008–09 5 1 4
2009–10 4 3 1
2010–11 4 2 1
2011–12 12 3 1
2012–13 7 1 3
2013–14 2 5 4
2014–15 8 6 1
2015–16 2 3 11
Top three
finishes
6 10 7
Key: Champions
2nd or 3rd place
4th or below

Since the 2001–02 season, fifteen seasons of Iranian Professional League have been completed. The table below shows the total rankings for football clubs which have competed in 15 seasons.[citation needed]
Teams in bold compete in 2016–17 season.

Pos. Club Seasons Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Best Rank
1 Esteghlal 15 462 224 147 91 685 447 +238 8185 Champion
2 Sepahan 15 462 212 146 104 672 446 +226 7791 Champion
3 Persepolis 15 462 199 153 110 646 492 +154 7432 Champion
4 Zob Ahan 15 462 183 155 124 569 465 +104 7033 2nd
5 Foolad 14 428 169 138 121 519 443 +76 645 Champion
6 Saipa 15 462 145 161 156 529 535 -6 596 Champion
7 Saba Qom 12 384 122 149 113 446 427 +19 515 3rd
8 Malavan 14 436 121 145 170 403 502 -99 5075 7th
9 Fajr Sepasi 12 368 101 135 132 347 406 -59 438 4th
10 Tractor Sazi 8 252 106 87 59 349 265 +84 4045 2nd
11 Paykan 11 338 98 96 144 342 431 -89 390 5th
12 Rah Ahan 11 354 91 114 149 353 447 -94 387 8th
13 Mes Kerman 8 264 85 99 80 310 292 +18 354 3rd
14 Aboumoslem 9 270 83 90 97 298 304 -6 339 4th
15 Esteghlal Ahvaz 9 274 80 78 116 327 402 -75 318 2nd
16 Naft Tehran 6 192 78 67 47 230 183 +47 301 3rd
17 Pas Tehran 6 168 72 59 37 263 181 +82 2744 Champion
18 Bargh Shiraz 8 236 60 78 98 250 335 -85 258 7th
19 Damash Gilan 8 248 56 81 111 228 343 -115 2485 7th
20 Sanat Naft 5 162 43 42 77 178 251 -73 171 9th
21 Pas Hamedan 4 136 38 48 50 143 165 -22 162 5th
22 Esteghlal Khuzestan 3 90 25 38 27 94 97 -3 113 Champion
23 Shahin Bushehr 3 102 23 38 41 96 118 -22 107 13th
24 Gostaresh 3 90 23 33 34 97 105 -8 102 9th
25 Steel Azin 2 68 19 23 26 85 112 -27 80 5th
26 Shamoushak 3 86 16 26 44 64 118 -54 74 14th
27 Padideh 2 60 16 24 20 53 60 -7 72 10th
28 Shahrdari Tabriz 2 68 14 29 25 79 97 -18 71 12th
29 Aluminium Hormozgan 1 34 7 14 13 26 40 -14 35 15th
30 Payam Mashhad 1 34 9 8 17 33 52 -19 35 16th
31 Mashhad 1 30 7 6 17 23 34 -11 27 13th
32 Mes Sarcheshmeh 1 34 5 9 20 23 54 -31 24 18th
33 Naft Masjed Soleyman 1 30 3 13 14 19 39 -20 22 16th
34 Shirin Faraz 1 34 3 12 19 25 59 -34 21 18th
35 Shahid Ghandi Yazd 1 30 4 7 19 21 43 -22 19 16th
36 Gahar Doroud 1 34 3 10 21 24 59 -35 19 18th
37 Machine Sazi 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

1 Sepahan was docked 3 points in 2007–08 season issued by Iranian Football Federation.
2 Persepolis was docked 6 points in 2007–08 season issued by FIFA.[citation needed]
3 Zob Ahan was docked 1 point in 2005–06 season issued by Iranian Football Federation.
4 Pas Tehran was deducted 1 point in 2006–07 season after the team illegally fielded 4 foreign players in the 20th round of the competition.
5 Persepolis, Esteghlal, Malavan, Damash and Tractor Sazi were deducted 1 point each in 2013–14 season due to poor fan behavior in their home matches.

Competition format and sponsorship[edit]

Competition[edit]

There are currently 16 clubs in the league,[4] although the competition started in 2001–02 with 14 teams.[5] The season lasts from August to May, with each club playing the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents for a total of 30 games for each club, with a total of 240 games in each season. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned as champion. At the end of the season, the three worst teams are relegated directly to the Azadegan League.

In the Azadegan League the top three teams are automatically promoted to the top flight.

In 2012, the league considered reducing the amount of teams to 16, for the 2012–13 season. This idea was dismissed for the 2012–13 season, but was implicated for the 2013–14 season.

Qualification for Asian competitions[edit]

As of 2008 four teams from Iran qualify for the AFC Asian Champions League annually. This includes the top three teams of the PGPL together with the winner of the Hazfi Cup. If the winner of the Hazfi Cup is also among the three top PGPL teams then the fourth best PGPL team also qualifies.

Sponsorship[edit]

Former logo, used from 2006 to 2014

The Persian Gulf Pro League has been sponsored since 2005. There have been four sponsors since the league's formation. In 2014, Irannovin Company became the League's sponsor for a record fee.

  • 2001–2005: No sponsor
  • 2005–2007: Zamzam
  • 2007–2009: Padideh
  • 2009–2014: Irancell
  • 2014–2016: Sun Star
  • 2016–present: fanap

According to a November 2012 study, in the 2010–11 season Iran Pro League clubs on average obtained 15% of their income from sponsorship.[6]

Ownership[edit]

Media coverage[edit]

Channel 3 broadcast two games a week nationally and IRIB 2 broadcast two games a week internationally, however due to the immense popularity of Tehran teams Persepolis F.C. and Esteghlal F.C. only these teams' matches are shown on IRIB 2 internationally. Since the 2012–13 season IRIB Varzesh will televise a second game each week nationally. With the provincial channels broadcasting the rest of their local games. Occasionally on important match days, such as the final day, Channel 2 and Shoma broadcast games nationally.

On 20 July 2011, IRIB and the IFF came to agreement regarding TV rights of both IPL and national team matches worth $96.5 million that will run until 2014.[7]

Players[edit]

Transfer season[edit]

  • The summer transfer season for teams in the Persian Gulf Pro League lasts from June 18 to 12 pm on August 8.
  • The winter transfer season for teams in the Persian Gulf Pro League lasts from January 1 to 12 pm on January 31.

Foreigner cap[edit]

Each team is allowed as many foreign players in their squad as they desire, however there is a rule that only permits three foreign players the pitch at any one time for each side. In the past there have been breaches of this rule and in the 2006–07 season Pas Tehran were docked one point for fielding four foreigners on one occasion and handed a 3–0 loss. Shortly after the 2011–12 Iran Pro League season finished, the IFF announced that foreign goalkeepers on Iranian teams would be banned from Azadegan League, Iran Pro League, Hazfi Cup, and Asian Champions League. A few weeks later, the IFF announced that the ban of foreign goalkeepers had been lifted, and that each team is allowed 4 foreign on the field including the goalkeeper.

Ranking[edit]

As of 2014 it was ranked as the 61st strongest league in the world by the IFFHS,[8] behind the K-League, Saudi Professional League, J.League and the Qatar Stars League. It was also ranked the third best league in Asia and the second best in Western Asia by the Asian Football Confederation in the 2015 AFC Champions League Ranking.

Records[edit]

All-time top scorers[edit]

All-time League top scorers[edit]

last update: 24 August 2015

No. Player Goals Years
1 Iran Reza Enayati 143 2001–present
2 Iran Arash Borhani 113 2002–present
3 Iran Mehdi Rajabzadeh 102 2001–present
4 Iran Fereydoon Fazli 85 2001–2010
5 Iran Edmond Bezik 84 1994–2006
6 Iran Ali Asghar Modirroosta 80 1991–2003
7 Iran Karim Ansarifard 77 2007–2014
8 Brazil Édinho 75 2007–2015
9 Iran Jalal Rafkhaei 73 2005–present
10 Iran Ali Daei 72 1994–2007
11 Iraq Emad Mohammed 70 2005–2012
12 Iran Rasoul Khatibi 68 1997–2010
13 Iran Reza Sahebi 67 1989–2003
Iran Reza Norouzi 67 2007–present
15 Iran Siavash Akbarpour 65 2004–2015
Iran Mohammad Gholami 65 2001–present
17 Iran Gholam Hossein Mazloumi 63 1971–1979
18 Iran Mohsen Garousi 61 1989–2002
Iran Mohsen Bayatinia 61 2001–2014
20 Senegal Ibrahima Touré 60 2007–2011
21 Iran Behnam Seraj 59 1996–2004
Iran Faraz Fatemi 59 1997–2011
23 Iran Aziz Espandar 58 1971–1979
Iran Mohammad Momeni 58 1989–2003
Iran Hossein Khatibi 58 1991–2000
Iran Iman Razaghirad 58 2001–2013
27 Iran Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht 55 1998–2014
28 Iran Hadi Asqari 52 2005–2010
Iran Farshad Pious 52 1989–1997
Iran Bahman Tahmasebi 52 1999–2011
31 Iran Samad Marfavi 51 1989–1998
Iran Ali Samereh 51 1999–2012
33 Iran Davoud Haghi 50 2003–2014
Includes when Azadegan League and Takht Jamshid Cup were Top Division[9]

Players in bold are still active in the league.

Winning managers[edit]

last update: May 13, 2016

Season Nationality Winning manager Club
2001–02  Iran Parvin, AliAli Parvin Persepolis
2002–03  Iran Kazemi, FarhadFarhad Kazemi Sepahan
2003–04  Iran Jalali, MajidMajid Jalali Pas Tehran
2004–05  Croatia Mladen Frančić Foolad
2005–06  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Esteghlal
2006–07  Iran Daei, AliAli Daei Saipa
2007–08  Iran
 United States
Ghotbi, AfshinAfshin Ghotbi Persepolis
2008–09  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Esteghlal
2009–10  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Sepahan
2010–11  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Sepahan
2011–12  Croatia Kranjčar, ZlatkoZlatko Kranjčar Sepahan
2012–13  Iran Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei Esteghlal
2013–14  Iran Faraki, HosseinHossein Faraki Foolad
2014–15  Iran Faraki, HosseinHossein Faraki Sepahan
2015–16  Iran Veisi, AbdollahAbdollah Veisi Esteghlal Khuzestan

Multiple winning managers[edit]

last update: May 13, 2016

No. Winning manager Club No. titles
1 Iran Amir Ghalenoei Esteghlal, Sepahan 5
2 Iran Hossein Faraki Foolad, Sepahan 2
3 Iran Ali Parvin Perspolis 1
Iran Farhad Kazemi Sepahan
Iran Majid Jalali Pas Tehran
Croatia Mladen Frančić Foolad
Iran Ali Daei Saipa
IranUnited States Afshin Ghotbi Persepolis
Croatia Zlatko Kranjčar Sepahan
Iran Abdollah Veisi Esteghlal Khuzestan

Multiple winning players[edit]

last update: May 13, 2016

No. Winning player Club No. titles
1 Iran Moharram Navidkia Sepahan 5
2 Iran Hossein Papi Sepahan 4
Iran Rahman Ahmadi Saipa, Sepahan
Iran Jalal Hosseini Saipa, Sepahan
Iran Mehdi Rahmati Esteghlal, Sepahan
Iran Hashem Beikzadeh Esteghlal, Sepahan
3 Iran Mohsen Bengar Sepahan 3
Iran Hadi Aghili Sepahan
Iran Ahmad Jamshidian Sepahan
Iran Mehdi Karimian Sepahan
Iran Mehdi Jafarpour Sepahan
Iran Ehsan Hajsafi Sepahan
Iran Shahin Kheiri Sepahan, Esteghlal
Iran Pejman Montazeri Foolad, Esteghlal
Iran Kianoush Rahmati Pas Tehran, Esteghlal
Iran Siavash Akbarpour Esteghlal
Iran Arash Borhani Pas Tehran, Esteghlal
Iran Mojtaba Jabbari Esteghlal
Brazil Fábio Januário Esteghlal, Sepahan

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mehrdad Estiri, Mohammad Haghighi, Reza Mohammadkazemi, Hamzeh Rayej & Mohammad Jahed (2010). "Promotion in Iran's Football Pro-league: Important but Weak!" (PDF). International Journal of Applied Sports Sciences. Korea Institute of Sports Science. 22 (1): 62. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  2. ^ برنامه‌ي كامل دور رفت ششمين دوره‌ي ليگ برتر فوتبال؛ ليگ برتر به "خليج فارس" تغيير نام داد (in Persian). ISNA. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  3. ^ برترين طرح ارائه شده براي ليگ برتر انتخاب شد (in Persian). IRIFF Official Website. Retrieved 2006-11-24. 
  4. ^ "Persian Gulf Cup". Soccerway. Global Sports Media. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Iran League Seasons". Persianleague.com. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Mahsa Qorbani; Mohammad Javad Sheikh; Meysam Bagheri (November 2012). "A comparative study of how to finance professional football premier leagues in Iran and England" (PDF). Scholarly Journal of Business Administration. 2 (9): 147. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  7. ^ http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9004295645
  8. ^ The World's Strongest National League 2014, IFFHS, 19 January 2015, retrieved 12 July 2015
  9. ^ شهريار به‌ بزيک، مديرروستا و عنايتى‌ نرسيد على‌ دايى‌ در 72 متوقف‌ شد (in Persian). khabars.net. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 

External links[edit]