Azerbaijan Premier League

The Azerbaijani Premier League (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Premyer Liqası) is the top tier in Azerbaijani club football. The league is contested by 8 teams, in which the season runs from August to May. The winner enters the UEFA Champions League from the first qualifying round.[1]

Azerbaijan Premier League
Founded1992; 28 years ago (1992)
Number of teams8
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toAzerbaijan First Division
Domestic cup(s)Azerbaijan Cup
Azerbaijan Supercup
International cup(s)UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
Current championsQarabağ (8th title)
Most championshipsNeftchi Baku
& Qarabağ (8 titles)
TV partnersCBC Sport
2020–21 Azerbaijan Premier League

The Azerbaijani Premier League was first organized in 2007 and succeeded the Top Division (Azerbaijani: Yüksək Liqa), which existed from 1992 to 2007.

Since 1992, a total of 8 clubs have been crowned champions of the Azerbaijani football system. The current champions are Qarabağ, who won the title in the 2018–19 season for the seventh time.


The 1990sEdit

The league was 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.[2] In 1997, Kapaz were known for their unbeaten run as club's final record for the 1997–98 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.[3]

The 2000sEdit

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.[4] 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.[5] Under the management of Agaselim Mirjavadov, Khazar Lankaran finished as Azerbaijan Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, while becoming league champions in 2006–07 despite losing the title to Neftchi in 2004–05 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 2010sEdit

Under Gurban Gurbanov's management, Qarabağ became the second team to represent Azerbaijan in the European Cup.

The 2010s brought a bright start, with Neftchi emerged as a champion after six years of unsuccessful run.[6][7] In the next season, Neftchi repeated its domestic success after sealing their seventh title in club's history.[8][9] In that year, Neftchi Baku became the first Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition.[10] In 2012–13 season, Neftchi managed to win three titles in a row.[11][12] In 2013–14 season, Qarabağ managed to win its 2nd title after 21 years,[13] and continue to win domestic title consecutively. In 2014, Qarabağ became the second and most successful Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition.[14] After consecutive participation in Europe League, in 2017, Qarabağ Ağdam became the first Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a Champions League.

On 19 June 2020, the AFFA announced that the 2019–20 was officially ended without the resumption of the remains matches due to the escalating situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Azerbaijan. As a result, Qarabağ were crowned champions for the seventh season in a row, whilst also qualifying for the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League, with Neftçi, Keşla and Sumgayit qualifying for the 2020–21 UEFA Europa League.[15]

Competition formatEdit

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 28 games.[16] 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 Azerbaijani Premier League and the Azerbaijan First Division. The lowest placed team in Premier League is relegated to the First Division, and the top team 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;

  • 26 clubs = 1992
  • 20 clubs = 1993
  • 16 clubs = 1993–94
  • 13 clubs = 1994–95
  • 11 clubs = 1995–96
  • 16 clubs = 1996–98

  • 14 clubs = 1998–99
  • 12 clubs = 1999–00
  • 11 clubs = 2000–01
  • 12 clubs = 2001–02
  • 15 clubs = 2003
  • 14 clubs = 2003–04
  • 18 clubs = 2004–05

  • 14 clubs = 2005–09
  • 12 clubs = 2009–13
  • 10 clubs = 2013–16
  • 8 clubs = 2016–20

Qualification for European competitionsEdit

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.



Kapaz has the highest attendance in the Caucasus region.

Total attendance
Number of
Average attendance
per match
2001–02 187,929 171 1,099 [17]
†League was cancelled - - -
2003–04 195,840 144 1,360 [18]
2004–05 470,670 290 1,623 [18]
2005–06 183,365 169 1,085 [18]
2006–07 225,216 144 1,564 [18]
2007–08 277,667 169 1,643 [18]
2008–09 309,582 182 1,701 [18]
2009–10 340,522 172 1,979 [19]
2010–11 418,418 192 2,179 [19]
2011–12 433,342 192 2,256 [20]
2012–13 364,910 192 1,900 [21]
2013–14 281,400 175 1,608 [22]

UEFA has suspended the league after longstanding conflict between the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and the majority of the country's top-flight clubs.[23]


The UniBank, who had sponsored the league since 2009, did not renew their sponsorship at the end of the 2011–12 season.[24][25] Talks began with Topaz betting operator, and a deal was confirmed shortly afterwards.[26]

  • 2009–12: Unibank Premyer Liqası[27]
  • 2012–19: Topaz Premyer Liqası[28]

In August 2019, cooperation was suspended and PFL announced a new tender for sponsorship.[29][30]

As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Premier League has a number of official partners and suppliers. The technical for the league is Nike who is providing their match ball for the season.[31]

Insolvency eventsEdit

Since the APL began, five of its member clubs have entered administration, while nearly twenty clubs liquidated.[32][33] 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 rankingEdit

UEFA Country Ranking for league participation after 2018–19 European football season.

As of 20 June 2019[34]
Movement Last Season
League Coefficient
24   (28)   Kazakhstan Premier League 19.250
25   (21)   Ekstraklasa 19.250
26   (23)   Azerbaijani Premier League 19.000
27   (18)   Israeli Premier League 18.625
28   (24)   Bulgarian First League 17.500

Media coverageEdit

Country Broadcaster
  Azerbaijan CBC Sport
International Bet365
LTV Channel

Members of the Azerbaijani Premier League (2020–21 season)Edit

Location of teams in 2019–20 Azerbaijan Premier League.
Team in italics are from a zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and are playing home game in Baku.

Stadia and locationsEdit

Note: Table lists in alphabetical order.
Team Location Venue Capacity[35]
Gabala Gabala Gabala City Stadium 4,500
Keşla Baku ASK Arena 5,300
Neftchi Baku Baku Bakcell Arena 11,000
Qarabağ Baku Azersun Arena 5,800
Səbail Səbail ASCO Arena 3,000
Sumgayit Sumqayit Kapital Bank Arena 1,500
Zira Zira, Baku Zira Olympic Sport Complex Stadium 1,500
Sabah Baku Alinja Arena 13,000


Players in the Premier League compete for the Azerbaijani 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.[36] 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.[36]

Khagani Mammadov is one of the highest goalscorers in Premier League.
Top Ten Highest Goalscorers[37]
Player Period Club[38] Goals
1   Nazim Aliyev 1992–99 Neftchi Baku 183
2   Mushfig Huseynov 1992–07 Qarabağ 125
3   Rovshan Ahmadov 1992–03 Kapaz 116
4   Gurban Gurbanov 1990–06 Neftchi Baku 115
5   Samir Alakbarov 1992–01 Neftchi Baku 115
6   Alay Bahramov 1992–99 Viləş Masallı 108
7   Vadim Vasilyev 1994–07 Baki Fehlesi 102
8   Khagani Mammadov 1994–12 Inter Baku 102
9   Kanan Karimov 1995–12 Shamkir 101
10   Nadir Nabiyev 1995–12 Turan 100
Aslan Kerimov is one of the most capped players in Premier League.
Top Ten Players With Most Appearances[39]
Player Period Club[40] Games
1   Azer Mammadov 1992–12 Kapaz 445
2   Mahmud Gurbanov 1992–12 Kapaz 421
3   Aslan Kerimov 1992–11 Qarabağ 382
4   Agil Mammadov 1992–11 Turan 364
5   Ismayil Mammadov 1992–09 Shamkir 351
6   Kanan Karimov 1995–12 Shamkir 327
7   Nadir Nabiyev 1995–12 Turan 316
8   Mubariz Orujov 1992–08 Khazar Lankaran 311
9   Mushfig Huseynov 1992–07 Qarabağ 305
10   Adehim Niftaliyev 1995–11 Khazar Lankaran 303
Biggest home win
Kapaz 14–2 Shamkir (1997–98)[41]
Most consecutive games unbeaten
Kapaz, 30 games, 1997–98[3]
Youngest goalscorer
Orkhan Aliyev, for Sumgayit vs Gabala, 15 years old, 236 days[42]
Oldest player
Nadir Shukurov, for Karvan vs Mughan, 42 years, 19 April 2009[43]
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

Azerbaijani League Champions and Top ScorersEdit

Season Champion Runner-up Third place Top scorers
1992 Neftchi Baku Khazar Sumgayit Turan   Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit, 39 goals)
1993 Qarabağ Khazar Sumgayit Turan   Samir Alakbarov (Neftchi Baku, 16 goals)
1993–94 Turan Qarabağ Kapaz   Musa Gurbanov (Turan, 35 goals)
1994–95 Kapaz Turan Neftchi Baku   Nazim Aliyev (Neftchi Baku, 26 goals)
1995–96 Neftchi Baku Khazri Buzovna Kapaz   Fazil Parvarov (Kapaz, 23 goals) / Rovshan Ahmadov (Kapaz, 23 goals)
1996–97 Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Khazri Buzovna   Gurban Gurbanov (Neftchi Baku, 34 goals)
1997–98 Kapaz Baku Shamkir   Nazim Aliyev (Baku, 23 goals)
1998–99 Kapaz Shamkir Neftchi Baku   Alay Bahramov (Viləş Masallı, 24 goals)
1999–00 Shamkir Kapaz Neftchi Baku   Badri Kvaratskhelia (Shamkir, 16 goals)
2000–01 Shamkir Neftchi Baku Vilash Masalli   Pasha Aliyev (Bakili Baku, 12 goals)
2001–02 The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and the clubs were discontinued due to the conflict between the clubs and the results were not taken into account.[44]
2002–03 Due to conflict between almost all clubs and the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, no league championship was held.[45]
2003–04 Neftchi Baku Shamkir Qarabağ   Samir Musayev (Qarabağ, 20 goals)
2004–05 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Karvan   Zaur Ramazanov (Karvan, 21 goals)
2005–06 Baku Karvan Neftchi Baku   Yacouba Bamba (Karvan, 16 goals)
2006–07 Khazar Lankaran Neftchi Baku Baku   Zaur Ramazanov (Khazar Lankaran, 20 goals)
2007–08 Inter Baku AZAL Neftchi Baku   Khagani Mammadov (Inter Baku, 19 goals)
2008–09 Baku Inter Baku Simurq   Walter Guglielmone (Inter Baku, 17 goals)
2009–10 Inter Baku Baku Qarabağ   Farid Guliyev (Standard Baku, 16 goals)
2010–11 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Qarabağ   Georgi Adamia (Qarabağ, 18 goals)
2011–12 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Inter Baku   Bahodir Nasimov (Neftchi Baku, 16 goals)
2012–13 Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Inter Baku   Nicolás Canales (Neftchi Baku, 26 goals)
2013–14 Qarabağ Inter Baku Gabala   Reynaldo (Qarabağ, 22 goals)
2014–15 Qarabağ Inter Baku Gabala   Nurlan Novruzov (Baku, 15 goals)
2015–16 Qarabağ Zira Gabala   Dani Quintana (Qarabağ, 15 goals)
2016–17 Qarabağ Gabala Inter Baku   Filip Ozobić (Gabala, 11 goals) &   Rauf Aliyev (Inter Baku, 11 goals)
2017–18 Qarabağ Gabala Neftchi Baku   Bagaliy Dabo, (Gabala, 13 goals)
2018–19 Qarabağ Neftchi Baku Səbail   Mahir Madatov, (Qarabağ, 16 goals)
2019–20 Qarabağ Neftchi Baku Keşla Four Players, (7 goals)


Performance by clubEdit

Club Winners Runners-up Third place Winning years
Neftchi Baku
1992, 1995-96, 1996-97, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13
1993, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20
1994-95, 1997-98, 1998-99
Inter Baku/Keşla
2007-08, 2009-10
2005-06, 2008-09
1999-00, 2000-01
Khazar Lankaran
Khazar Sumgayit
Khazri Buzovna
Zira FK
Viləş Masallı
Total 25 25 25

Azerbaijan SSR ChampionsEdit


Azerbaijani 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.[46] Opinions on this rule appear to be divided among APL managers.



The current Azerbaijani 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 annualEdit

In addition to the winner's Trophy and the individual winner's medal players receive, Azerbaijani 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 Azerbaijani Premier League are handed out.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Access list for the 2018/19 UEFA club competitions" (PDF). Union of European Football Associations. 27 February 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Ölkə futbolu qara geyinməyə hazırlaşır (Yazı)". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 3 December 2011.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Годы независимости. Успехи Нефтчи, Кяпаза, Шамкира, и французский позор". Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  4. ^ "İbrahimoviç Qurbanova çatdı". (in Azerbaijani). Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  5. ^ Walker, Paul. "Relief for Wales as Uefa lifts ban on Azerbaijan". The Independent. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  6. ^ Ibrahimov, Erkin. "Neftçi take title honours in Azerbaijan". UEFA. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Neftchi are Azerbaijani champions".
  8. ^ Чемпионский рецепт от Нефтчи. (in Russian). Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  9. ^ Ibragimov, Erkin. "Neftçi take honours in Azerbaijan". UEFA. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Нефтчи" стал первым азербайджанским футбольным клубом, вышедшим в групповой этап еврокубков - ФОТО. (in Russian). Archived from the original on 1 September 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  11. ^ "ARDICIL ÜÇÜNCÜ DƏFƏ ÇEMPİON "NEFTÇİ"!!!". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 14 May 2013.[permanent dead link]
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  13. ^ "Azerbaycan'da şampiyon Karabağ". (in Turkish). Milliyet. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  14. ^ "Карабах" выбил "Твенте" из Лиги Европы. (in Russian). Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Официально: Сезон 2019/20 завершен досрочно. Карабах - чемпион, Сумгаит впервые в истории попал в Еврокубки". (in Russian). Azerifootball. 19 June 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Azərbaycan Premyer Liqasının formatı dəyişdi". (in Azerbaijani).
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  23. ^ "Azerbaijan embargo ends". UEFA. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  24. ^ Unibank стал главным спонсором профессиональной футбольной лиги Archived 28 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Azerbaijani)
  25. ^ Азербайджанский «Unibank» стал официальным спонсором Премьер-лиги Archived 26 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in Azerbaijani)
  26. ^ ""Topaz" Premyer Liqanın yeni sponsoru oldu". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  27. ^ "Unibank has become general sponsor of Professional Football League". Azerbaijan Business Center. 24 September 2009. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  28. ^ "Topaz и ПФЛ подписались на три совместных сезона". 19 September 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  29. ^ "ПФЛ пытается отомстить Topaz заключением контракта с другой букмекерской компанией. Но это незаконно". 6 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  30. ^ "PFL tender elan edir". 6 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  31. ^ "AFFA hər kluba 100 top verib" (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  32. ^ Распался клуб-участник азербайджанской Премьер-лиги. (in Russian). Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  33. ^ "Futbolun vidalaşdıqları futbolla vidalaşa bilmir (Yazı)". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  34. ^ [1]
  35. ^ Azərbaycan Peşəkar Liqası (in Azerbaijani)
  36. ^ a b Ekspress Newspaper (in Azerbaijani)
  37. ^ ""100-lər klubu" üçün het-trik". Football Plus Newspaper (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 1 September 2011.[permanent dead link]
  38. ^ where player shot the most goals
  39. ^ "Premyer Liqamızın ilk "11"i". (in Azerbaijani). Apasport News Agency. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  40. ^ where player played the most games.
  41. ^ ПАС ИЗ-ЗА ГРАНИЦЫ. Sports Express Newspaper (in Russian). Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  42. ^ "Europe's youngest top-flight goalscorers". UEFA. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  43. ^ "NBC is renamed". AFFA. 31 October 2008. Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  44. ^ Azerbaijan 2001/02 Archived 3 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ Azerbaijan 2002/03 Archived 3 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ "AFFA 21 yaşla bağlı qərarı ləğv edir, bu dəfə Ramin Musayev Elxan Məmmədova qalib gəldi". (in Azerbaijani). Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2013.

External linksEdit