List of association football clubs playing in the league of another country
This is a list of association football clubs playing in the league of another country i.e. a country other than the one where they are based. Conditions for competing in a "foreign" league, as well as in a continental/confederational competition, are set case-by-case by FIFA, the international association football federation as well as the respective continental confederation and national football associations involved.
Clubs which are located in defunct nations that merged with others, new nations separated from others, or which stopped competing in a nation's league system because their locale was transferred to another nation, are not included in this article.
Great Britain and IrelandEdit
As a result of the history of football in the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom has four FIFA member countries instead of one. Therefore, clubs that play outside what would be regarded as their 'home country' are included.
England / ScotlandEdit
- Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish football league system. They were relegated in the 2018–19 season and play in the Scottish Lowland League as of 2019–20.
- Tweedmouth Rangers joined tier 6 of the Scottish football league system which is the East of Scotland Football League in 2016 from the North Northumberland League.
- Gretna played in the English football league system until 2002 when they were elected to the Scottish Football League. They folded in 2008, and their successor club Gretna 2008 continue to play in the Scottish football league system.
- Annan Athletic played in the English football league system from 1952 (when they joined the Carlisle and District League and the Cumberland Football Association) to 1977.
England / WalesEdit
- The New Saints, one of only two fully professional clubs in the Welsh Premier League, represents both the Welsh village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain and the English town of Oswestry (the two places are 8 miles/13 km apart), since its merger in 2003 with financially troubled Oswestry Town, an English club which played in the Welsh football structure. Since the 2007–08 season, they have played in Oswestry, while previously playing in Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain. As regular contenders to the Welsh Premier League title and Welsh Cup, The New Saints have represented Wales in European competitions.
- Newcastle A.F.C. from Newcastle, Shropshire play in the Welsh football league system (Mid Wales South League).
- Bucknell F.C. from Bucknell, Shropshire played in the Welsh football league system (Mid Wales South League) until the 2014–15 season.
- Trefonen F.C. play in the Welsh football league system (Montgomeryshire League).
- Morda United did play in the Mid Wales Football League, but moved to the West Midlands (Regional) League (in the English football league system) in 1994. The club returned, but to the Montgomeryshire League since the 2014–15 season until the 2016–17 season.
- Bishop's Castle Town did play in the Montgomeryshire League, but moved to the Shropshire County League (in the English football league system) in 2010. The club returned to the Montgomeryshire League in the 2016–17 season.
- In addition, Station Road, home to Llanymynech F. C., is located on the English side of Llanymynech.
Until 1995–96, English teams close to the border were allowed to compete in the Welsh Cup. They could not qualify for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup this way.
- Cardiff City play in the Championship
- Swansea City play in the Championship
- Newport County play in League Two
- Wrexham play in the National League
- Merthyr Town play in the Southern Football League Premier Division South
- In addition, Deva Stadium, home to Chester and previously to the defunct Chester City, straddles the England–Wales border, and its entire pitch is in Wales (though the club offices, which are part of the stadium complex, are in England).
Although all the above clubs play in the English football league system and are allowed to compete in the FA Cup, Wrexham and Merthyr Town are under the jurisdiction of the Football Association of Wales for disciplinary and administration purposes. Swansea City, Cardiff City and Newport County previously had the same governance until an arrangement was made with the English FA for the 2011–12 season onwards which sees Welsh clubs playing in the top four divisions of English football under the governance of the English FA.
Cardiff City (1921–29, 1952–57, 1960–62, 2013–14 and 2018–19) and Swansea City (1981–83 and 2011–18) have played in the top division of English football (currently the Premier League). Cardiff City are also the only non-English side to have won the FA Cup, winning it in 1927 (also winning the Welsh Cup that year, being the only team to win the national cups of different countries in the same season); they again reached the final in 2008, prompting the English FA to change the rules to allow Welsh clubs to represent England in UEFA competitions should they qualify to do so. Swansea City won the 2012–13 Football League Cup, and are the first Wales-based club to qualify for a European competition through a place reserved for the English Football Association.
The following Welsh clubs have also played in the English football league system:
- Bangor City
- Barry Town
- Bridgend Town
- Caernarfon Town
- Colwyn Bay
- Ton Pentre
The following defunct Welsh clubs also played in the English league system:
Until 1995, the above clubs were allowed to participate in the Welsh Cup, and represented Wales in the Cup Winners' Cup if they won. Clubs playing in those parts of England close to the Welsh border could also play in the Welsh Cup by invitation but could not represent Wales if they won, this berth instead went to the best-finishing Welsh team.
Northern Ireland / Republic of IrelandEdit
→ : Northern Irish in the Republic of Ireland
- Two different clubs bearing the name Derry City have played in the Republic of Ireland football league system:
- The original club, founded in 1928, played in the Northern Ireland football league system until 1972, when it was expelled from the Irish Football League due to issues related to The Troubles. The club then spent 13 years without a league until being admitted to the second level of the League of Ireland in 1985. Two years later, they earned promotion to the League of Ireland's first level, and continued there until their expulsion in 2009 for financial mismanagement. The club was dissolved shortly thereafter.
- A new Derry City club, which considers itself to be a continuation of the original, was founded in January 2010, and was admitted to the second level of the League of Ireland starting with the 2010 season. They returned to the top flight at the first opportunity by winning the First Division title.
Derry City have won the league titles of both Northern Ireland (1964–65) and the Republic of Ireland (1988–89, 1996–97), and also the cup titles of both Northern Ireland (1948–49, 1953–54, 1963–64) and the Republic of Ireland (1988–89, 1994–95, 2002, 2006, 2012), and have represented both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in European club competitions.
Guernsey / EnglandEdit
→ : Guernsey in England
Jersey / EnglandEdit
→ : Jersey in England
Isle of Man / EnglandEdit
→ : Isle of Man in England
Andorra / SpainEdit
Austria / GermanyEdit
- SV Kleinwalsertal played in Germany from the 1960s until 2018, playing in the tier eleven B-Klasse Allgäu 8 in 2017–18.
Bosnia and Herzegovina / YugoslaviaEdit
- FK Borac Banja Luka played in the Yugoslav football league system. Technically, the club stayed Yugoslav and continued to participate in Yugoslav competition until 1995, despite Bosnia and Herzegovina having been recognised as independent in 1992.
Cyprus / GreeceEdit
- Olympiakos Nicosia played in Greece in 1967–68, 1969–70, and 1971–72.
- AEL Limassol played in Greece in 1968–69.
- EPA Larnaca FC played in Greece in 1970–71.
- AC Omonia played in Greece in 1972–73.
- APOEL F.C. played in Greece in 1973–74.
Czechoslovakia / HungaryEdit
- SC Rusj Užhorod (1925 – 1945), due to partitioning of Czechoslovakia in 1938-39, Rusj Užhorod was forced to play in Hungarian competitions in 1939 – 1945
Finland / SwedenEdit
- IF Fram 1999–2011 and possibly earlier
- IF Östernäskamraterna 2004–2007
- Eckerö IF 2005–2009
- Jomala IK 2000–2005 and possibly earlier
- IF Finströms Kamraterna 2002–2003
- IF Start 2004
- Lemlands IF 2011– still plays in Swedish league system (Division 6, Uppland östra (Tier 8))
- Hammarlands IK 2014– still plays in Swedish league system (Division 6, Uppland östra (Tier 8))
All clubs are based in the Åland Islands, an autonomous region of Finland with an indigenous ethnically Swedish population.
Georgia / Soviet UnionEdit
- FC Dinamo Sukhumi played in the Soviet football league system. Technically, the club stayed Soviet and continued to participate in Soviet competition. Concurrently, in Georgia was conducted separate championship and some former footballers from Dynamo Sukhumi created FC Tskhumi in Tbilisi.
Germany / SwitzerlandEdit
- FC Büsingen play in the Swiss Football League system (3. Liga – Group 5), as Büsingen am Hochrhein is a German exclave surrounded by Switzerland.
Italy / SwitzerlandEdit
- AP Campionese play in the Swiss Football League system (4. Liga – Group 1), as Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave surrounded by Switzerland.
- FC Chiasso played in the Italian league system between 1914 and 1923.
Kosovo / SerbiaEdit
→ : Kosovar in Serbia
Kosovo is still only a partially recognised state and the government of Serbia still claims the territory as its own. Due to Serbian refusal of Kosovo institutions, Serbs in North Kosovo act independently in sport. For example, the Football First League of North Kosovo was primarily formed of Serbian clubs from four of North Kosovo's municipalities. Both governments agreed upon creating a Community of Serb Municipalities.
From 2010 to 2015, the Football First League of North Kosovo was the top football regional league in North Kosovo, ranked fifth in the Serbian league system. The league was formed primarily of Serbian football clubs that come from four of North Kosovo's municipalities such as Leposavić, Zvečan, Zubin Potok and Northern Kosovska Mitrovica. The league was formed in protest to the establishment of the Kosovo Super League by the Republic of Kosovo; the Serbian clubs from North Kosovo refuse to enter the Republic of Kosovo's institutions as per the Assembly of the Community of Municipalities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija.
- FK Ibar Leposavić
- FK Kopaonik Lešak
- FK Moša Banje
- FK Rudar Kosovska Mitrovica
- FK Zvečan
- FK Radnik Prilužje (until 2013)
- FK Sočanica (until 2014)
There are two other clubs from North Kosovo, which compete in different leagues:
Latvia / Soviet UnionEdit
- FK Pārdaugava, same as the Georgian FC Dynamo Sukhumi, it was one of the few clubs that continued to compete in the Soviet football competitions despite official withdrawal of its domestic football organizations. The club was created in place of the Soviet Daugava club which was a regional branch of the Soviet bigger Dynamo sports society associated with the Soviet KGB and law enforcement.
Liechtenstein / SwitzerlandEdit
All clubs in Liechtenstein play in the Swiss Football League system, as Liechtenstein has no properly recognized league of its own. These clubs also compete in the Liechtenstein Football Cup, which is effectively the championship of Liechtenstein, with the winner representing Liechtenstein in the UEFA Europa League. Liechtenstein clubs do not play in the Swiss Cup, and are not eligible for qualification to European competitions via the Swiss league system. FC Vaduz has had three stints in the top flight in Switzerland, the first in the 2008–09 season and the second running from 2014 to 2017 through 2020–21. They are the only Liechtenstein club to have ever played in the Swiss Super League.
Monaco / FranceEdit
- AS Monaco FC play in the French football league system (Ligue 1 since 2013–2014) as Monaco does not have a professional league and the Monégasque Football Federation, which has no international recognition, was not formed until 2000. They are one of the most successful clubs in France having won eight Ligue 1, five Coupe de France and one Coupe de la Ligue titles, and have also represented France in European competitions, reaching the final of the now-defunct UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1992 and of the UEFA Champions League in 2004.
San Marino / ItalyEdit
→ : Sammarinese in Italy
- San Marino Calcio played in the Italian football league system from its foundation in 1959 until the end of the 2018–19 Serie D season, when they moved to Cattolica in Italy, merging into the local team (though the club is still legally based in San Marino).
- A.C. Juvenes/Dogana played in both the Campionato Sammarinese di Calcio and the Italian amateur levels until the 2006–07 season. Now they play only in the Sammarinese league. Juvenes/Dogana was founded in 2000 after the merger of S.S. Juvenes and G.S. Dogana: the two clubs also played in both Italy and San Marino at the time of the merger.
The home league of San Marino was established only in 1985. Before that year, other Sammarinese teams have competed in the Italian system, though only San Marino Calcio was allowed to take part in the system and also to Coppa Italia exclusively:
- S.P. Cailungo
- F.C. Domagnano
- S.C. Faetano
- F.C. Fiorentino
- S.P. La Fiorita
- S.S. Folgore Falciano Calcio
- A.C. Juvenes/Dogana
- A.C. Libertas
- S.S. Murata
- S.S. Pennarossa
- S.S. San Giovanni
- S.P. Tre Fiori
- S.P. Tre Penne
- S.S. Virtus
Spain / FranceEdit
- UE Bossòst play in the French football league system (Occitanie League, Haute-Garonne District, D2).
Ukraine / RussiaEdit
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( ) → : Ukrainian in Russia
- FC SKChF Sevastopol (reconstituted based on FC Sevastopol)
- FC TSK Simferopol (reconstituted based on SC Tavriya Simferopol)
- FC Zhemchuzhina Yalta (revived based on same club that was disqualified from Ukrainian competitions)
The three clubs are from Crimea, a territory recognized by Ukraine and a majority of countries as part of Ukraine, but have been under effective Russian control as the Republic of Crimea since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. FC Sevastopol and SC Tavriya Simferopol last played in the 2013–14 Ukrainian Premier League, and were dissolved after the completion of the season. The three clubs were reformed as football organizations of the Russian Federation and joined the Russian Professional Football League starting from the 2014–15 season, after approval from the Russian Football Union. The inclusion of Crimean clubs in Russian competitions have not been approved by either FIFA or UEFA, and the Football Federation of Ukraine have lodged a complaint. On 22 August 2014 UEFA decided "that any football matches played by Crimean clubs organised under the auspices of the Russian Football Union will not be recognised by UEFA until further notice", and on 4 December 2014, decided to prohibit Crimean clubs to play in competitions organised by the Russian Football Union as from 1 January 2015 and for the region to be considered as a "special zone" for football purposes until further notice.
Western Sahara / MoroccoEdit
Many North American sports leagues are made up of teams from different countries—three of the four largest professional leagues have teams representing cities on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. This phenomenon can also be seen in soccer leagues. Although foreign clubs can and do participate in leagues based in the United States, no such team is eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup, which is only open to teams affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer). They are also not eligible to represent the United States in the CONCACAF Champions League or the CONCACAF League (the latter of which does not feature any U.S.-based teams). Those teams that do participate in U.S. leagues also participate in various competitions under their local federations to gain entry into the Champions League and CONCACAF League.
Antigua and Barbuda / United StatesEdit
→ : Antiguan and Barbudan in the United States
- Antigua Barracuda FC played in USL Pro (the league now known as the USL Championship) from 2011 to 2013. The team was forced to play its entire 2013 schedule on the road due to issues with its home stadium, normally a cricket ground, and folded after that season.
Bermuda / United StatesEdit
→ : Bermudian in the United States
- Bermuda Hogges, before folding at the end of the 2012 season, played in the Premier Development League (PDL; now known as USL League Two). The team began as a member of the USL Second Division (the effective predecessor to today's USL Championship), but self-relegated to the PDL after the 2009 season. Many of the players appeared for the Bermuda national team. The club folded after the 2013 PDL season.
- FC Bascome Bermuda joined the USL League Two in time for the 2020 season; however, its debut was postponed to 2021 due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada / United StatesEdit
- Toronto FC have played in MLS since 2007.
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined MLS in 2011. The Whitecaps played in the USL First Division until 2009 and in the temporary USSF Division 2 in 2010.
- CF Montréal joined MLS in 2012 under the name Montreal Impact which was the same as their predecessors of the same name had played the previous three seasons in three different US-based leagues: the USL First Division in 2009, the temporary USSF Division 2 in 2010, and the new NASL in 2011.
- Toronto FC II began play in the USL Championship, then known as the United Soccer League, in 2015. In 2019 they became a founding member of USL League One.
- Calgary Foothills FC, Thunder Bay Chill, TSS FC Rovers, Victoria Highlanders, and FC Manitoba (formerly WSA Winnipeg) are teams playing in USL League Two.
Several Canadian clubs played in previous incarnations of the NASL, including:
- Calgary Boomers
- Edmonton Drillers
- Montreal Manic
- Montreal Olympique
- Toronto Blizzard (also known as Toronto Metros and Toronto Metros-Croatia)
- Toronto Falcons
- Vancouver Royals
- Vancouver Whitecaps
Canada's other MLS teams began fielding USL reserve sides in 2015, but both USL sides have since been folded. FC Montreal was folded by the Impact upon the announcement by Ottawa Fury FC that they would join the USL, with the Fury becoming the Impact's top affiliate. The Whitecaps folded Whitecaps FC 2 after the 2017 season in favor of an affiliation with a new USL side, Fresno FC. The Toronto Lynx (which had played in the USL A-League/First Division until 2006) also participated in the PDL until 2014. In addition, two Canadian MLS teams, the Impact and Whitecaps, previously fielded under-23 sides in the PDL. Former Canadian PDL teams include the Abbotsford Mariners, Hamilton Rage, K–W United FC, FC London, original Ottawa Fury, and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency (replaced by Whitecaps U-23).
FC Edmonton played in the modern North American Soccer League until 2017, at which time it halted professional operations. The club resumed professional play in 2019 on its own side of the US–Canada border in the new Canadian Premier League.
The Ottawa Fury began play in the NASL in 2014, replacing a PDL team of the same name. The team moved to the league now known as the USL Championship after the 2016 season before suspending operations following the 2019 season.
As in the men's game, the women's soccer pyramid contains leagues that operate on both sides of the border. The current top level, the National Women's Soccer League, operates solely in the U.S., although it receives financial backing from both U.S. Soccer and the Canadian Soccer Association, and also had backing from the Mexican Football Federation until that body organized its own women's league in 2017.
- The USL W-League had six Canadian members—K-W United, Laval Comets, London Gryphons, Ottawa Fury Women, Quebec Dynamo, and Toronto Lady Lynx at its height before folding following the 2015 season.
- Calgary Foothills WFC began play in United Women's Soccer, one of two leagues that currently form the de facto second level of the women's sport in the two countries, in 2017.
Puerto Rico / United StatesEdit
→ : Puerto Rican in the United States
Even though Puerto Rico is a dependent territory of the United States, it has a separate football federation, the Puerto Rican Football Federation. The highest level of competition within Puerto Rico is the Puerto Rico Soccer League, and teams can qualify domestically as Puerto Rican entrants in the Caribbean Club Championship and the CONCACAF Champions League.
- The Puerto Rico Islanders played in the new North American Soccer League (NASL) during the league's first two seasons of 2011 and 2012. The Islanders had played in the USL First Division in 2009 and USSF D2 Pro League in 2010.
- Sevilla FC Puerto Rico, Club Atlético River Plate Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico United were initially going to play in USL Pro in the 2011 season, but were removed due to severe economic difficulties. All three teams moved to Puerto Rican leagues.
- Bayamón Fútbol Club for the 2014 season was meant to be renamed Puerto Rico FC and was expected to play in the National Premier Soccer League. In the end the team never played in the league.
- Puerto Rico FC, played in the NASL's 2016 fall season and the 2017 season.
Asia and OceaniaEdit
Australia / SingaporeEdit
- Perth Kangaroos IFC and the Darwin Cubs played in the 1994 Singapore Premier League, placing first and second, respectively.
Brunei / MalaysiaEdit
→ : Bruneian in Malaysia
- DPMM FC played in the Malaysia Premier League in 2006, and the Malaysia Super League in 2007 and 2008.
- The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam used to enter a team in the Malaysian league.
Brunei / SingaporeEdit
- DPMM FC play in the Singapore Premier League, starting in 2009, after getting kicked out the Malaysia Super League for the 2009 season (see above). They were also invited to take part in the Singapore Cup in 2007. Only during the FIFA ban on the Brunei FA in 2009, that DPMM FC have suspended their participation and resumed it only in 2012.
China / Hong KongEdit
→ : Mainland Chinese in Hong Kong
- Lanwa FC played in the Hong Kong First Division League for three seasons from 2005 to 2008.
- Chengdu Tiancheng and Xiangxue Eisiti were both reserve teams of clubs based in mainland China which played in the 2008–09 Hong Kong First Division League season. However, both teams played their home games in Hong Kong.
- R&F (a satellite team of Guangzhou R&F F.C., a top-level professional club in China's Super League) play in the Hong Kong Premier League, starting from the 2016–17 season. After failing to win a trophy in four years, R&F officially announced withdrawal from the league on 14 October 2020.
Macau / ChinaEdit
→ : Macau in Mainland Chinese
- Macau Football Association runs MFA Development, fielding under-23 players. Beginning with Season 2018, it could participate in CMCL Regional Competition, but is not permitted to promote to League Two.
Malaysia / AustraliaEdit
- Harimau Muda A competed in National Premier Leagues Queensland in the 2014 season, but played all their games in Australia.
Malaysia / SingaporeEdit
- As part of a two-way arrangement with the Football Association of Singapore, the Football Association of Malaysia entered an under-22 representative side, known as Harimau Muda A, in the S-League from 2012 to 2015 (in 2014 with a B-Team (see above)).
→ : Singaporean in Malaysia
- The Football Association of Singapore used to enter a team in the Malaysian league, but pulled out after the 1994 season following a dispute with the Football Association of Malaysia over gate receipts, and launched its own S.League. From 2012 to 2015, a new Singapore representative side, based around the Under-23 team participated in the Malaysia Super League and the Malaysia Cup.
New Zealand / AustraliaEdit
- Wellington Phoenix play in the A-League, starting from the 2007–08 season.
- New Zealand Knights played in the National Soccer League from 1999 to 2004 (as Football Kingz FC) and in the A-League from 2005 to 2007.
As New Zealand is a member of OFC and Australia is a member of AFC since moving from OFC in 2006, Wellington Phoenix are playing in the league of a member of another football confederation. As per agreement with FIFA, AFC and OFC, Wellington Phoenix are not allowed to participate in the AFC Champions League. They also do not participate in the OFC Champions League, as New Zealand is represented by clubs from its football league, the New Zealand Football Championship. Wellington Phoenix are the only extant professional football team in New Zealand; the New Zealand Football Championship is amateur. The reserve team of Wellington Phoenix began play in the NZ Championship in 2014–15, and have featured in every season since.
Foreign and Satellite teams in SingaporeEdit
Besides DPMM FC, a number of "foreign" teams have also played in the S.League. These clubs, while playing their home games in Singapore, are either satellite teams of foreign clubs or are made up exclusively of foreign players:
- Albirex Niigata Singapore FC (a satellite team of Albirex Niigata, a top-level professional club in Japan's J. League)
- Beijing Guoan Talent Singapore FC (a satellite team of Beijing Guoan F.C., a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Dalian Shide Siwu FC (a satellite team of Dalian Haichang, a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Etoile FC (made up of players of French origin)
- Liaoning Guangyuan FC (a satellite team of Liaoning FC, a top-level professional club in China's Super League)
- Sinchi FC (a team made up of players from China)
- Sporting Afrique FC (made up of players of African origin)
- Yishun Super Reds FC (made up of players from South Korea)
In recent years, foreign clubs from other countries have also been invited to participate in the Singapore Cup.
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- Scott, Matt (6 May 2011). "Football Association breaks Welsh jurisdiction over Cardiff and Swansea". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- FA approves Cardiff for Uefa Cup
- Twydell, Dave (5 November 2001). Denied F.C.: The Football League Election Struggles. Harefield: Yore Publications. p. 24. ISBN 1-85983-512-0.
- BK Allgäu 8 BFV website, accessed: 5 August 2019
- "Crimean clubs to play in Russian second division from next season". Inside World Football. 13 August 2014.
- "Ukraine crisis: Russia's claim on Crimea's football clubs". BBC Sport. 15 August 2014.
- "UEFA Emergency Panel decision on Crimean clubs". UEFA.org. 22 August 2014.
- "UEFA Nations League format and schedule confirmed". UEFA.org. 4 December 2014.
- "港超︱富力R&F落實棄戰港超 稱退出因現時香港足球氛圍". Ming Pao (in Chinese). 14 October 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
- Ad hoc Committee for Professional Clubs
- "Phoenix reserve team to play in national league". Stuff.co.nz. 22 August 2014.