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The Azadegan League (Persian: ليگ آزادگان‎), also known as League 1 (Persian: لیگ یک‎), is the second highest division of professional football in Iran. It was the top-level football league in Iran from its foundation in 1991 until 2001, when the Persian Gulf Pro League was established. Each year, the top finishing teams in the Azadegan League are promoted to the Persian Gulf Pro League, and the lowest finishing teams are relegated to League 2.

Azadegan League
ليگ آزادگان
crest
Founded1991
CountryIran
ConfederationAFC
Number of teams18
Level on pyramid2
Promotion toPersian Gulf Pro League
Relegation toLeague 2
Domestic cup(s)Hazfi Cup
Current championsGol Gohar (1st title)
(2018–19)
Most championshipsPersepolis (4 titles)
TV partnersIRIB
Websitewww.lig1.ir
2019–20 Azadegan League

Since 2016, the league comprises 18 teams. The winner and the runner-up of the Azadegan League are automatically promoted to the Persian Gulf Pro League. The bottom three teams in the league are relegated to League 2. In the past, the format and number of teams were changed for various times. Persepolis is the most successful club with four titles.

HistoryEdit

Before 1970Edit

Before the 1970s, Iran did not have an official national football league. Most clubs participated in championships of their city or province. 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 founded as the national league and included teams from all over the country.

1979 Revolution and 1980sEdit

Due to the Islamic Revolution and the Iran–Iraq War, the Takht Jamshid Cup was dissolved and also the lower leagues were unorganized. Consequently, the people paid very little attention football at that time. In 1989 the Qods League was created as the national football league. Esteghlal were the first national champion since PAS Tehran in 1978. After the season the Qods League was not continued.

FoundationEdit

In 1991 the Azadegan League was formed as the top flight of Iranian football. The league was named as Azadegan League in honor of the Iranian prisoners of war who were released. Azadegan means the liberated in Persian. The league started with a format of 12 teams in the first season. In the 1992–93 Azadegan League season the league changed its format. 16 clubs participated in two groups of eight teams. PAS Tehran were the champions in both seasons.[1]Esteghlal relegated for the first time in their history in 1993. Before the start of the 1993–94 season, the league changed its format again. 14 teams participated in one group. Saipa won the Azadegan League title, sitting three points of runners-up Persepolis. Only one year later the league format was changed again. 24 clubs participated in two groups of 12 teams. Saipa defended their title in final against Esteghlal.

Prior to the start of the 1995–96 Azadegan League season, the league changed its format again.[2] 16 teams participated in one group until 1999. Persepolis were the champions in 1995–96,[3] 1996–97[4] and 1998–99,[5] while Esteghlal became the champion in the 1997–98 season.[6] In 1999 the league was reduced to 14 teams. Persepolis won the 1999–2000 Azadegan League season, sitting seven points clear of rival Esteghlal.[7] The 2000–01 season was the last year of the Azadegan League as the top-level football league of Iran. Esteghlal became the champion in a league of 12 teams.[8]

Second divisionEdit

After the Iran Pro League was established as the professional football league of Iran, Azadegan League was declared as the second-highest professional league in the Iranian football league system. Esteghlal Ahvaz won the 2001–02 Azadegan League season and promoted to Iran Pro League. Also Sanat Naft Abadan promoted to the Iran Pro League. 22 clubs participated in two groups of 11 teams including a final stage for the best four teams. The format was changed into a classic league of 16 teams for the next two seasons. Shamoushak Noshahr became the champion in 2002–03, while Saba Battery won the league title in the 2003–04 season.

Once more the league changed their format in 2004. Between the 2004–05 and 2007–08 Azadegan League season, 24 clubs played in two groups of 12 teams. After Shahid Ghandi winning the league in 2004–05, Mes Kerman became the champion in the 2005–06 season. Sanat Naft Abadan, the third-ranked team in 2004–05, criticized the Iranian Football Federation due to incidents in the final stage. In the 2006–07 Azadegan League season, Pegah and Shirin Faraz became the champions of the league, while Tractor failed once again for promotion. Also, Sanat Naft Abadan promoted automatically to the Persian Gulf Cup because of the 2004–05 Azadegan League promotion controversy.

After Payam Mashhad winning the title in the 2007–08 Azadegan League season, the number of teams was increased to 28 before the start of the 2008–09 season. They played in two groups of 14 teams until 2013. East Azerbaijan's famous club Tractor returned finally back to the Persian Gulf Cup by winning the 2008–09 season alongside Steel Azin. Shahrdari Tabriz and Naft Tehran were the champions in the 2009–10 season, before Damash winning the league in 2010–11. Paykan won the league title 2011–12, while Gostaresh and Esteghlal Khuzestan winning the league one year later. Although Shahrdari Tabriz could win their group, they had to relegate due to match-fixing.

The number of teams was reduced in the next two seasons. 26 clubs participated in 2013–14, while 24 teams played in the 2014–15 season. Padideh won the title in 2013–14 after a victory over Naft Masjed Soleyman in the league final. One season later, Foolad Novin could win the league after they beat Siah Jamegan in final. Due to the fact that Foolad Novin is the reserve team of Foolad Khuzestan, they could not promote to the Persian Gulf Pro League. Instead of Foolad Novin, Esteghlal Ahvaz was allowed to promote.

Since 2015Edit

 
Pars Jonoubi Jam champions 2016–17

Before the start of the 2015–16 Azadegan League season, they returned to a classic league format. 20 clubs participated in 2015–16, before the number of teams were reduced to 18 one season later. Paykan won the 2015–16 season, sitting seven points clear of Machine Sazi. In 2017, Pars Jonoubi Jam promoted sensationally to the Persian Gulf Pro League after winning the 2016–17 Azadegan League. Also Sepidrood returned to the highest Iranian league after 25 years.

Like in the 2016–17 season, Nassaj was also involved in a dramatic season finish in the 2017–18 Azadegan League. At the last matchday, five teams had the chance to promoted. Naft Masjed Soleyman drew 2–2 with Mes Rafsanjan and won the league, while Nassaji defeated Rah Ahan 6–0 in Tehran’s Takhti Stadium and became runners-up with 64 points thanks to a better goal difference than Khooneh be Khooneh.[9]

FormatEdit

In the past, the format and number of teams were changed for various times. Since 2016, the league comprises 18 teams. Over the course of a season, which runs annually from July to the following May, each team plays twice against the others in the league, once at home and once away, resulting in each team competing in 34 games in total. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. The teams are ranked in the league table by points gained, then goal difference, then goals scored and then their head-to-head record for that season.

At the end of the season, the top two teams are promoted to the Persian Gulf Pro League and the bottom three teams are relegated to League 2. Furthermore, all teams in the Azadegan League can participate in the Hazfi Cup.

Number of teams Period
12 1991–92, 2000–01
16 (two groups) 1992–93
14 1993–94, 1999–00
24 (two groups) 1994–95, 2004–05 until 2007–08, 2014–15
16 1995–96 until 1998–99, 2002–03 until 2003–04
22 (two groups) 2001–02
28 (two groups) 2008–09 until 2012–13
26 (two groups) 2013–14
20 2015–16
18 since 2016–17

Edit

ClubsEdit

ChampionsEdit

Performance in the Azadegan League by club
Team Champions Runners-up
Persepolis 4 (1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000) 3 (1992–93, 1993–94, 2000–01)
Esteghlal 2 (1997–98, 2000–01) 4 (1991–92, 1994–95, 1998–99, 1999–00)
PAS Tehran 2 (1991–92, 1992–93) 1 (1997–98)
Paykan 2 (2011–12, 2015–16) 1 (2005–06)
Saipa 2 (1993–94, 1994–95)
Pegah 1 (2006–07) 1 (2002–03)
Tractor6 1 (2008–09) 1 (2006–07)
Naft Masjed Soleyman 1 (2017–18) 1 (2013–14)
Esteghlal Ahvaz 1 (2001–02)
Shahr-e Khodro5 1 (2013–14)
Shamoushak Noshahr 1 (2002–03)
Saba Qom1 1 (2003–04)
Tarbiat Yazd2 1 (2004–05)
Mes Kerman 1 (2005–06)
Rahian Kermanshah3 1 (2006–07)
Payam Mashhad 1 (2007–08)
Steel Azin4 1 (2008–09)
Naft Tehran 1 (2009–10)
Shahrdari Tabriz 1 (2009–10)
Damash 1 (2010–11)
Esteghlal Khuzestan 1 (2012–13)
Gostaresh Foulad 1 (2012–13)
Foolad Novin 1 (2014–15)
Pars Jonoubi Jam 1 (2016–17)
Gol Gohar 1 (2018–19)
Bahman 2 (1995–96, 1996–97)
Sanat Naft 2 (2001–02, 2009–10)
Shahin Bushehr 2 (2008–09, 2018–19)
Malavan 1 (2003–04)
Rah Ahan 1 (2004–05)
Sepahan Novin 1 (2007–08)
Aluminium Hormozgan 1 (2011–12)
Mes Sarcheshmeh 1 (2010–11)
PAS Hamedan 1 (2012–13)
Siah Jamegan 1 (2014–15)
Machine Sazi 1 (2015–16)
Sepidrood 1 (2016–17)
Nassaji Mazandaran 1 (2017–18)

Notes:
1 Saba Qom was formerly known as Saba Battery
2 Tarbiat Yazd was formerly known as Shahid Ghandi
3 Rahian Kermanshah was formerly known as Shirin Faraz
4 Steel Azin was formerly known as Ekbatan
5 Shahr-e Khodro was formerly known as Padideh
6 Tractor was formerly known as Tractor Sazi

All-time tableEdit

Pos. Club Seasons Matches Win Draw Loss GF GA GD Pts Champions Runners-up Promoted Relegated Best Rank
1 Sanat Naft 17 417 154 139 124 478 427 +51 601 2 4 2 2nd
2 Nassaji Mazandaran1 18 460 153 145 162 477 514 −37 601 2 3rd
3 Tractor 16 392 143 131 118 448 414 +34 560 1 1 1 1 1st
4 Machine Sazi 15 392 121 124 147 415 500 −85 487 1 1 3 2nd
5 Persepolis 9 222 122 71 29 368 167 +201 437 4 3 1st
6 Aluminium Arak2 13 338 106 109 123 359 388 −29 427 2 4th
7 Payam Mashhad3 12 305 102 106 97 353 350 +3 409 1 1 3 1st
8 Esteghlal 9 224 108 77 39 328 194 +134 401 2 4 1 1st
9 PAS Tehran 10 250 94 106 50 304 227 +77 388 2 1 1st
10 Esteghlal Ahvaz 13 330 90 109 131 352 429 −77 379 1 2 3 1st
11 Mes Rafsanjan 10 269 94 95 80 296 244 +52 377 2nd
12 Gol Gohar 10 269 92 95 82 305 276 +29 371 3rd
13 Sepahan 9 236 87 79 70 250 230 +20 340 1 3rd
14 Iranjavan 10 266 81 94 91 284 298 −14 337 1 2nd
15 Tarbiat Yazd4 9 226 84 74 68 267 225 +42 326 1 1 1 1st
16 Niroye Zamini 11 266 81 83 102 251 287 −36 326 3 3rd
17 Malavan 9 238 80 85 73 232 208 +24 325 1 1 2 2nd
18 Mes Kerman 8 218 80 76 62 237 194 +43 316 1 1 1st
19 Bargh Shiraz 11 276 75 90 111 245 312 −67 315 2 3rd
20 Fajr Sepasi 8 226 77 78 71 238 202 +36 309 1 2nd
22 Shahrdari Tabriz5 9 231 82 83 66 260 216 +44 282 1 1 4 1st
29 Naft Masjed Soleyman 6 174 58 68 48 202 182 +20 242 1 1 2nd
38 Rah Ahan 5 142 46 44 52 150 166 −16 182 1 1 2nd
56 Khooneh be Khooneh 2 72 29 27 16 86 67 +19 114 5th
58 Saba Qom6 2 60 29 20 11 86 53 +33 107 1 1 1st
80 Baadraan Tehran 1 34 14 14 6 34 21 +13 56 6th
83 Oxin Alborz 1 34 13 10 11 39 29 +10 49 7th
110 Bargh Jadid Shiraz
111 Shahrdari Mahshahr
2017–18 Persian Gulf Pro League
2017–18 Azadegan League
Dissolved

Notes:
Only league matches, Play-offs are not included in the all-time table
1 Nassaji Mazandaran was deducted three points in the 2012–13 season
2 Aluminium Arak was formerly known as PAS Arak, Shensa Arak, Hamyari Arak and Shahrdari Arak
3 Payam Mashhad was deducted three points in the 2010–11 season
4 Tarbiat Yazd was formerly known as Shahid Ghandi
5 Shahrdari Tabriz was deducted all 47 points in the 2012–13 season
6 Saba Qom was formerly known as Saba Battery

AttendancesEdit

Average league attendancesEdit

Season Average Highest attended club Club average Lowest attended club Club average
2008–09 3,075 Tractor 9,385 Niroye Zamini 319
2009–10 2,667 Nassaji Mazandaran 11,833 Foolad Novin 192
2010–11 2,733 Nassaji Mazandaran 12,769 Sanati Kaveh 188
2011–12 2,350 Naft Masjed Soleyman 9,091 Sanati Kaveh 200
2015–16 2,539 Nassaji Mazandaran 8,931 Parseh Tehran 120
2016–17 2,650 Nassaji Mazandaran 10,333 Rah Ahan 188
2017–18 2,287 Nassaji Mazandaran 12,941 Machine Sazi 247

Notes:
Matches with spectator bans are not included in average attendances

Highest attended season matchesEdit

Season Home team Score Away team Attendance Date Week Stadium
2008–09 Tractor 2–0 Aluminium Hormozgan 20,000 8 June 2009 (2009-06-08) 26 Sahand
2009–10 Nassaji 4–1 Damash 15,000 13 November 2009 (2009-11-13) 6 Vatani
2010–11 Gostaresh 1–0 Aboumoslem 30,000 9 May 2011 (2011-05-09) 26 Sahand
2011–12 Nassaji 0–0 Naft MIS 15,000 5 April 2012 (2012-04-05) 24 Vatani
2015–16 Machine Sazi 3–0 Mes Rafsanjan 15,500 10 May 2016 (2016-05-10) 37 Sahand
2016–17 Sepidrood 3–2 Nassaji 20,000 1 May 2017 (2017-05-01) 34 Dr. Azodi
2017–18 Rah Ahan 0–6 Nassaji 23,000 29 April 2018 (2018-04-29) 34 Takhti Tehran

StatisticsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "List of Iranian football champions". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  2. ^ "1995–96 Azadegan League season". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  3. ^ "1995–96 Azadegan League season". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  4. ^ "1996–97 Azadegan League season". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  5. ^ "1998–99 Azadegan League season". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  6. ^ "1997–98 Azadegan League season". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  7. ^ "1999–2000 Azadegan League season". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  8. ^ "2000–01 Azadegan League season". rsssf.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  9. ^ http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/423128/Naft-Masjed-Soleyman-Nassaji-Mazandaran-win-promotion-to-IPL

External linksEdit