Persian Gulf Pro League
2001 with current format
|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||Sepahan (5th title)|
|Most championships||Sepahan (5 titles)|
|TV partners||IRIB TV3, Jame Jam 1 & Varzesh & Shoma|
|2015–16 Persian Gulf Pro League|
The Persian Gulf Pro League (Persian: لیگ برتر خلیج فارس) also 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 creation of the league in 2001, six different teams have become league champions. Sepahan is the most successful club with five league trophies after winning the title in the recent season.
- 1 History
- 2 Current clubs (2015–16)
- 3 Champions
- 4 All-time Premier League standings
- 5 Competition format and sponsorship
- 6 Media coverage
- 7 Players
- 8 Ranking
- 9 Records
- 10 All-time League top scorers
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 External links
Before the 1970s Iran did not have an official national league and most teams competed in their local leagues, the most popular of those leagues being the Tehran Local League, which featured teams like Pas Tehran, Persepolis, and Taj.
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 cups five-year existence, winning the cup twice each. 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, winning the League twice each. In spite of the 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 Iranian prisoners of war. Pas Tehran won the inaugural edition of the league, and for the first time since the revolution, Iran had a national league. 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 dissolved with the introduction of the new Iran Pro League.
Iran Pro League
The 2001–02 season saw the introduction of a professional football league in Iran. The first winner of the Iran Pro League was Persepolis, who beat rival club 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 Iran Pro League season, Pas Tehran won their first title after coming in second place the year before. Defending champions Sepahan finished 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
On August 12, 2006, the Iranian Football Federation decided to change the name of the league once again. The name of the league was changed to the Persian Gulf Cup. This was done to promote the name of the Persian Gulf, instead of the 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.
Saipa was the 6th team to win the new edition of the league which meant six different teams won leagues in a row. However, Persepolis regained the title after six years in 2008 by a dramatic win against rivals Sepahan on the 96th minute of the final matchday and became the first team that won 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 In the 2011–12 edition of the league, they had a more difficult job trying repeat 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 3 times, and 3 times in a row. 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 came into existence. 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 finished third ahead of Sepahan because of better goal difference. With Esteghlal's 3–1 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 leagues name was officially changed to Persian Gulf Pro League, and a new logo was made as well.
On the final matchday of the 2014–15 season, Tractor Sazi and Naft Tehran were first and second tied on points, Sepahan was third with one point behind. Tractor and Naft played each other on the final day, with Sepahan playing Saipa. Tractor who were ahead on goal difference only needed a draw with Naft and Sepahan to drop points to win the league, Naft had to win against Tractor to win the league, and Sepahan needed to win against Saipa and the Tractor against Naft game to end in a draw. All matches were played simultaneously on the final matchday except the Tehran derby. Until minute 76 Tractor was leading 3–1 against Naft, while Sepahan was winning 2–0 against Saipa, meaning Tractor up to then had won the league. Naft scored twice on Tractor within 5 minutes to level the match, meaning Sepahan would win the league. In Sahand Stadium in Tabriz from minute 87, the cellphone signals had suspiciously been cut out, meaning no communication with the Sepahan game. Word reached the Tractor bench that the Sepahan match was 2–2 when in fact it was still 2–0 for Sepahan. This lead to Tractor Sazi manager Toni Oliveira, thinking only a draw was needed to win the league, made several defensive substitutions. At the end of the match, Tractor fans and players invaded the pitch thinking they had won the league, when in fact Sepahan had. Several minutes later it had become apparent that Sepahan had actually won its match, this lead to rioting in the stadium by fans and the tearing up of seats.
Current clubs (2015–16)
|Esteghlal Khuzestan||Ahvaz||Takhti Ahvaz||30,000|
|Foolad||Ahvaz||New Foolad Stadium||27,501|
|Esteghlal Ahvaz||Ahvaz||Takhti Ahvaz||30,000|
|Saba Qom||Qom||Yadegar Emam||10,610|
|Siah Jamegan||Mashhad||Emam Reza||25,000|
|Zob Ahan||Esfahan||Foolad Shahr||15,000|
List of champions by season
|Season||Winner||No. IPL titles
|2003–04||Pas Tehran||1 |
Most successful clubs since 2001 in Iran Pro League
|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)||3 (2004–05, 2009–10, 2011–12)|
|Persepolis||2 (2001–02, 2007–08)||1 (2013–14)||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)|
|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 Premier League standings
|2nd or 3rd place|
|4th or below|
Since the 2001–02 season, fourteen seasons of the Professional League has been completed. The below table shows the total ranking for the all football clubs competing in these all 14 seasons.
|32||Naft Masjed Soleyman||1||30||3||13||14||19||39||-20||22||16th|
|34||Shahid Ghandi Yazd||1||30||4||7||19||21||43||-22||19||16th|
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.
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
There are currently 16 clubs in the league, although the competition started in 2001–02 with 14 teams. 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 two worst teams are relegated directly to the Azadegan League. While the third worst team plays in a relegation play-off with an Azadegan League club.
In the Azadegan League there are two groups, the top team from each group is automatically promoted to the top flight. But, the two runner-up teams have to play against each other in a 2-legged competition. The winner is promoted to the Iran Pro League play-off, while the loser remains in the Azadegan League.
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
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.
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–present: Sun Star
According to a November 2012 study, in the 2010–11 season Iran Pro League clubs on average obtained 15% of their income from sponsorship.
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.
- The summer transfer season for teams in the Persian Gulf Pro League lasts from June 18 to 12pm on August 8.
- The winter transfer season for teams in the Persian Gulf Pro League lasts from January 1 to 12pm on January 31.
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.
As of 2014 it was ranked as the 61th strongest league in the world by the IFFHS, behind the K-League, Saudi Professional League, J.League, Kuwait Premier League, UAE Arabian Gulf League, Chinese Super 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.
All-time top scorers
All-time League top scorers
last update: 30 August 2014
|6||Ali Asghar Modirroosta||80||1991-2003|
|15||Gholam Hossein Mazloumi||63||1971-1979|
|25||Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht||55||1998–2014|
|Includes when Azadegan League and Takht Jamshid Cup were Top Division|
Players in bold are still active in the league.
last update: May 15, 2015
|2001–02||Iran||Parvin, AliAli Parvin||Persepolis|
|2002–03||Iran||Kazemi, FarhadFarhad Kazemi||Sepahan|
|2003–04||Iran||Jalali, MajidMajid Jalali||Pas Tehran|
|2005–06||Iran||Ghalenoei, AmirAmir Ghalenoei||Esteghlal|
|2006–07||Iran||Daei, AliAli Daei||Saipa|
|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|
Multiple winning managers
last update: May 15, 2015
|No.||Winning manager||Club||No. titles|
|1||Amir Ghalenoei||Esteghlal, Sepahan||5|
|2||Hossein Faraki||Foolad, Sepahan||2|
|Majid Jalali||Pas Tehran|
Multiple winning players
last update: May 15, 2015 
- Hazfi Cup
- Iranian Futsal Super League
- 17th of Shahrivar league
- Qods League
- Iranian Super Cup
- Tehran Football Competitions
- List of foreign IPL players
- Takht Jamshid Cup
- 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.
- برنامهي كامل دور رفت ششمين دورهي ليگ برتر فوتبال؛ ليگ برتر به "خليج فارس" تغيير نام داد (in Persian). ISNA. Retrieved 2006-08-14.
- برترين طرح ارائه شده براي ليگ برتر انتخاب شد (in Persian). IRIFF Official Website. Retrieved 2006-11-24.
- "Persian Gulf Cup". Soccerway. Global Sports Media. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- "Iran League Seasons". Persianleague.com. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- 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.
- شهريار به بزيک، مديرروستا و عنايتى نرسيد على دايى در 72 متوقف شد (in Persian). Khabar Varzeshi Official Website. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2007-05-30.
- با رسیدن به نویدکیا و سیدجلال/ رحمتی، بیک زاده و جانواریو هم 4 تایی شدند (in Persian). Goal.com. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- Persian Gulf Pro League official website
- Persian Gulf Pro League official twitter
- League at Soccerway.com