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The I Lyga, LFF I Lyga, Pirma Lyga, is the second tier of professional Lithuanian football championship.
|Number of teams||14|
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Promotion to||A Lyga|
|Relegation to||II Lyga|
|Current champions||FA Šiauliai (1st title) |
|TV partners||Futbolo.tv, Init|
|Current: 2022 LFF I Lyga|
Organized by the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF), I Lyga is contested by 14-16 teams, with the top team gaining promotion to A Lyga and replaced by the lowest-placed team in top division and the bottom 4 clubs being relegated to the II Lyga. Starting with the 2016 season, the second-placed team qualifies to promotion play-offs with A Lyga's next-to-last team. The final list of participants often does not correlate to the final results of the previous season, as the participation is finalized through the Lithuanian Football Federation league licensing process.
There were 15 teams competing in the 2017 season. At the end of this season, three teams withdrew from all competitions.
In 2018, there were 14 teams that started the championship. However, FK Koralas Klaipėda withdrew in the mid-season. After the end of the season, two more teams have withdrawn from participation in the next season.
The 2019 season saw 16 teams starting the championship. In June FC Stumbras ran into financial difficulties, its license was withdrawn from the A Lyga, along with Stumbras B license in the I Lyga. In July Stumbras B was removed from the league, with all results annulled as the team played less than half of all season games. At the end of the season an investigation into match-fixing was launched. As a result, FK Atlantas and FK Palanga were expelled from A Lyga and demoted to II Lyga. An appeal to allow to participate in I Lyga was rejected. As the investigation continued, I Lyga side FC Kupiškis was also found to be involved in match-fixing, and subsequently fined and demoted to II Lyga.
Although the 2019 I Lyga winners FC Džiugas Telšiai won promotion to A lyga, the club failed to meet 2020 A Lyga licensing criteria, and had their promotion forfeited. Only FK Banga Gargždai had advanced to A Lyga after the 2019 season, having won the promotion playoff against the A lyga 7-th placed FK Palanga before its expulsion from the A Lyga.
The 2020 season was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and was shortened to 1.5 rounds. 14 teams participated in the tournament, with four teams offered promotion to A Lyga. The last-placed team was meant to be relegated, but in the end stayed up in I Lyga.
2021 season ran in full despite some COVID-19 threats. As four teams advanced to the A Lyga, and one club withdrew, five teams joined from the II Lyga. Previous season winner FK Jonava were denied A Lyga license because of allegations of match-fixing. The league consisted of 14 teams, with an expectation to expand the league to 16 the next season.
FA Šiauliai won the 2021 title, beating FK Jonava in the last round. Both clubs finished with 66 points, and the top position had to be decided by additional match at a neutral stadium. FA Šiauliai had won both matches this season - 3:1 and 1:0. And also won additional match on penalties to become champions. Match was played in Kėdainiai.
For the last several years, the second-placed team contested with A Lyga's next-to-last team in a play-off for a spot in A Lyga.
At the 2021 season end, it is expected that two teams will be relegated directly from A Lyga, without a play-off game.
- "Vykdomojo komiteto posėdžio metu patvirtintas I ir A lygų komandų skaičius". LFF. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
- Official website
- Lithuanian football history and statistics by Almantas Lauzadis
- League321.com – Lithuanian football league tables, records & statistics database.