Lebanese Premier League
The Lebanese Premier League (Arabic: الدوري اللبناني لكرة القدم, lit. 'Lebanese Football League') is the top division of the Lebanese football league system. There are 12 teams competing in the league, which operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Lebanese Second Division.
|Organising body||Lebanese Football Association (LFA)|
|Number of teams||12|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Lebanese Second Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||Lebanese FA Cup|
Lebanese Super Cup
|League cup(s)||Lebanese Elite Cup|
Lebanese Challenge Cup
|International cup(s)||AFC Cup|
|Current champions||Ahed (7th title) |
|Most championships||Ansar (13 titles)|
|Top goalscorer||Wartan Ghazarian[a]|
Fadi Alloush (118)
|TV partners||MTV Lebanon (TV broadcasting)|
Mycujoo (Online streaming)
|2019–20 Lebanese Premier League|
The league was formed in 1933, with Nahda winning the first title. The most successful club in the league is Ansar, with 13 league titles. They have set a Guinness World Record by winning 11 consecutive league titles between 1988 and 1999, a record that has since been surpassed. Seasons run from September to April with each team playing 22 games (playing all 11 other teams both home and away). Most games are played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
On 22 March 1933, representatives of thirteen associations gathered in the city of Mina Al Hosn to form the Lebanon Football Association, with Lebanese journalist Nassif Majdalani helping in its formation. It joined FIFA in 1935 and the AFC in 1964. The Lebanese Premier League began the same year as the formation of the Federation, with Nahda winning the first title.
Most clubs were born on the basis of sectarianism, such as Sagesse being a Christian club and Ansar having a Sunni fanbase. Nahda, AUB and Sika Railways shared the titles during the first decade of the league. Between the 1940s and 1960s, Armenian clubs, such as Homenetmen and Homenmen, were the most prominent in the early Lebanese footballing scene. The two clubs shared 11 titles in 16 seasons between 1943 and 1969.
Following a 12-year interruption of the league due to the Lebanese Civil War, Ansar dominated the league winning 11 consecutive league titles between 1988 and 1999. They set a Guinness World Record for most consecutive league titles, which has been since broken by Skonto of Latvia in 2002. From 2000, Nejmeh were the dominating force in Lebanon, winning five out of nine league titles until 2009.
During the 2010s Ahed, who had only won one league title prior, won six league titles. After winning the 2018–19 Lebanese Premier League Ahed became the three-time defending champions, a feat accomplished only one other time, by Ansar in 1992. The 2018–19 season was one of the worst in Lebanese football since the end of the Lebanese Civil War, with poor preparations by teams, match-fixing, and tensions between clubs and the Federation being the hot-topics of the season. On 21 January 2020, the LFA decided to suspend all football leagues until further notice, and cancelled the three match days that were previously played (the last one being on 17 October 2019).
There are 12 clubs in the Lebanese Premier League. During the course of a season each club plays the others twice (a double round-robin system), once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents', for 22 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then head-to-head records, and then goal difference. If still equal, a draw takes place to determine the position.
Promotion and relegationEdit
A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Lebanese Premier League and the Lebanese Second Division. The two lowest placed teams in the Lebanese Premier League are relegated to the Second Division, and the top two teams from the Second Division promoted to the Lebanese Premier League.
Wins by clubEdit
|Ansar||13||1987–88, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2005–06, 2006–07|
|Nejmeh||8||1972–73, 1974–75, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2008–09, 2013–14|
|Homenetmen||7||1943–44, 1945–46, 1947–48, 1950–51, 1954–55, 1962–63, 1968–69|
|Ahed||2007–08, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2014–15, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19|
|Nahda||5||1933–34, 1941–42, 1942–43, 1946–47, 1948–49|
|Homenmen||4||1944–45, 1953–54, 1956–57, 1960–61|
|AUB||3||1934–35, 1936–37, 1937–38|
|Sika||1935–36, 1938–39, 1940–41|
|Racing Beirut||1955–56, 1964–65, 1969–70|
|Safa||2011–12, 2012–13, 2015–16|
The following 20 clubs are competing in the Lebanese Premier League during the current 2019–20 season.
|Club||Home city||Position in 2018–19||Top division titles||Last top division title|
|Ahed||Beirut (Ouzai)||1st in the Lebanese Premier League||7||2018–19|
|Akhaa Ahli||Aley||4th in the Lebanese Premier League||0||n/a|
|Ansar||Beirut (Tariq El Jdideh)||2nd in the Lebanese Premier League||13||2006–07|
|Bourj||Beirut (Bourj el-Barajneh)||1st in the Lebanese Second Division||0||n/a|
|Chabab Ghazieh||Ghazieh||6th in the Lebanese Premier League||0||n/a|
|Nejmeh||Beirut (Ras Beirut)||3rd in the Lebanese Premier League||8||2013–14|
|Safa||Beirut (Wata El-Museitbeh)||9th in the Lebanese Premier League||3||2015–16|
|Salam Zgharta||Zgharta||10th in the Lebanese Premier League||0||n/a|
|Shabab Bourj||Beirut (Bourj el-Barajneh)||2nd in the Lebanese Second Division||0||n/a|
|Shabab Sahel||Beirut (Haret Hreik)||5th in the Lebanese Premier League||0||n/a|
|Tadamon Sour||Tyre||7th in the Lebanese Premier League||0||n/a|
|Tripoli||Tripoli||8th in the Lebanese Premier League||1||2002–03|
The Lebanese League broadcasting rights are distributed to MTV Lebanon. Live coverage of selected games is broadcast each week, and weekly highlights of each match are produced once a week. Mycujoo broadcasts some of the remaining matches online. They also stream a selection of Lebanese Second Division and Lebanese Futsal League games weekly.
At the start of the 2005–06 season, the Lebanese government imposed a ban on spectators due to fears of political and sectarian-inspired violence in the stadiums. After six years, in 2011, the ban was lifted and fans were allowed to regularly attend matches. While attendance was initially scarce, spectators started to show up more regularly season after season. Indeed, in 2018 ultras groups started to form, with Nejmeh's "Ultras Supernova" being the first. Other teams quickly followed, such as Ansar, Ahed and Bourj.
Prior to the start of each season, every team chooses two stadiums as their home venues. In case both stadiums are unavailable for a certain matchday, another venue is used. While teams such as Nejmeh and Ahed have their own stadiums, respectively Rafic El-Hariri Stadium and Ahed Stadium, they prefer to use bigger stadiums in Lebanon such as the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium and the Beirut Municipal Stadium.
Foreign players and transfer regulationsEdit
Lebanese clubs are allowed to have three foreign players at their disposal at any time, as well as one extra Palestinian player born in Lebanon. Moreover, each club competing in an AFC competition is allowed to field one extra foreign player, to be only played in continental matches, as the AFC allows four foreign players to play in the starting eleven (one of whom from an AFC country).
Players may only be transferred during transfer windows that are set by the Lebanese Football Association. The two transfer windows run from 1 July to 17 September and from 8 December to 7 January.
Starting from the 2019–20 season, all teams in the Lebanese Premier League and Lebanese Second Division must involve a certain number of under-22 players in the both the league and the Lebanese FA Cup, with a minimum of 1,000 minutes for one player, a minimum of 1,500 aggregate minutes for two players and a minimum of 2,000 aggregate minutes for three players. In case a club were to not meet the required number of minutes at the end of the season, they would have three points deducted from their total in the league.
|1||Wartan Ghazarian||1992–2002, 2003–2004, 2006–2009||118[a]|
|3||Haitham Zein||1998–2007, 2008–2012||112|
|4||Abbas Ahmed Atwi||1997–2012, 2012–||106|
|5||Mohammad Kassas||1995–2005, 2006–2008, 2008–2011, 2016–2017||105|
|6||Abbas Ali Atwi||2001–||85|
|7||Moussa Hojeij||1994–2008, 2009–2014||82|
|8||Ali Nasseredine||2002–2011, 2012–2017||75|
|10||Hassan Maatouk||2005–2012, 2017–||68|
Italics denotes players still playing professional football, Bold denotes players still playing in the Lebanese Premier League.
The Golden Boot is awarded to the top Lebanese Premier League scorer at the end of each season. Wartan Ghazarian and Fadi Alloush both hold the record for most Lebanese Premier League goals with 118. Five have reached the 100-goal mark. Six players were top scorers more than once: Levon Altonian, Fadi Alloush, Mohammad Kassas, Mohammed Ghaddar, Lucas Galán and El Hadji Malick Tall have all been top scorers twice. Fadi Alloush holds the record for most goals in a season (32) while playing for Ansar.
Official match ballEdit
On 30 July 2019, the Lebanese Football Association announced a three-year deal with German sportswear company Jako for €120,000, with the Jako Match 2.0 becoming the league's official match ball starting from the 2019–20 season.
- 2019–present: Jako Match 2.0
Notes and referencesEdit
- Ghazarian scored a total of 130 goals, however his 12 goals scored during the 2000–01 season were not counted as the season was canceled.
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