The Primeira Liga (Portuguese: [pɾiˈmɐjɾɐ ˈliɣɐ]; English: Premier League), also known as Liga NOS for sponsorship reasons, is the top professional association football division of the Portuguese football league system. It is organised and supervised by the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional. As of the 2014–15 season, the Primeira Liga is contested by 18 teams, with the two lowest placed teams relegated to the Segunda Liga and replaced by the top-two non-reserve teams from this division.
|Organising body||Liga Portuguesa de
|Number of teams||18 (from 2014–15)|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Domestic cup(s)||Taça de Portugal
|League cup(s)||Taça da Liga|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
|Current champions||Benfica (36th title)
|Most championships||Benfica (36 titles)|
|TV partners||List of broadcasters|
|2017–18 Primeira Liga|
Founded in 1934 as an experimental league called Campeonato da Liga, it was officialised in 1938 and named Primeira Divisão (First Division) until 1999, when it was Primeira Liga. A total of 70 teams have competed in the Primeira Liga, but only five have been crowned champions. Among them, the "Big Three" – Benfica (36 titles), Porto (27) and Sporting CP (18) – have won all but two Primeira Liga titles; the other winners are Belenenses (1945–46) and Boavista (2000–01).
The Primeira Liga has increased its reputation in the last few years, occupying as of February 2017, the 7th place of UEFA's league ranking. It broke into the top five for the first time in the 2011–12 season, passing the French Ligue 1, one of the historical "big five" European leagues, for the first time since 1990. The Primeira Liga also reached a world ranking of 4th according to IFFHS's 2011 ranking.
Before the Portuguese football reform of 1938, an experimental competition on a round-basis was already being held – the Primeira Liga (Premier League) and the winners of that competition were named "League champions". Despite that, a Championship of Portugal in a knock-out cup format was the most popular and defined the Portuguese champion, although the winners of this competition no longer count as Portuguese football champions.
Then, with the reform, a round-robin basis competition was implemented as the most important of the calendar and began defining the Portuguese champion. From 1938 to 1999, the name Campeonato Nacional da Primeira Divisão (National Championship of the First Division) or just Primeira Divisão (First Division), was used.
Porto won the inaugural edition of the new league championship and successfully defended the title in the next season. In 1939–40 the tournament was expanded from eight to ten clubs, due to an administrative battle between Porto and Académico do Porto, regarding a Regional Championship game that ended with only 43 minutes after the start, and later repeated (which FC Porto won) according to Porto FA decision. FPF came out with a decision to satisfy both clubs, expanding the championship to 10 teams (one more from Porto FA and another from Setúbal FA) and annulling the result from the repetition match. With this decision, FC Porto lost the Regional title and finished in 3rd, Leixões SC became the new regional champion, while Académico was 2nd place. All 3 teams qualified for 1939–40 Primeira Divisão.
In the 1941–42 season, it was decided to expand the championship from eight to ten teams to admit Braga FA and Algarve FA champions (until this season only the top teams from Porto, Coimbra, Lisboa and Setúbal were admitted). Porto finished the regional championship in third place again, which did not grant entry into the Primeira Liga. However, a second expand (from 10 to 12) in the same season was decided, which allowed the club to participate.
After the 1945–46 season, the qualifying system based on regional championships was abandoned and adopted a pyramid system, with relegations and promotions between the 3 tiers. The clubs in Primeira Divisão, Segunda Divisão and Terceira Divisão no longer had to play their district championships on the same season as they had been doing since the first seasons of the Liga.
When the Portuguese League for Professional Football took control of the two nationwide leagues in 1999, it was renamed Campeonato Nacional da Primeira Liga (Premier League National Championship), or simply Primeira Liga (Premier League).
"The Big Three" (Portuguese: Os Três Grandes) is a nickname for the three most powerful sports clubs in Portugal. With the exception of Belenenses in 1945–46 and Boavista in 2000–01, only three clubs have won the Primeira Liga title – Benfica (36 times), Porto (27) and Sporting CP (18). These three clubs generally end up sharing the top three positions, appearing more frequently in UEFA competitions and are the three only clubs in Portugal to have never been relegated.
These clubs dominate Portuguese football, and it has become typical for fans to support any of these teams as a "first club", with a local team probably coming afterwards, if at all. The "Big Three" have the highest average attendance ratings every season in Portugal, while the other teams, lacking support from the locals (with the exception of Vitória de Guimarães and Braga, which are the next-most supported clubs), have suffered from poor attendance. The lack of support for local teams is considered to be one of the main reasons why Portuguese Football registers one of the worst attendance ratings in European Football's best championships, alongside the broadcast of almost all the games on television. In other sports, the rivalry between the big clubs is also considerable and it usually leads to arguments between the fans and players.
Benfica is the club with most league, cup and league cup titles, as well as the most domestic titles (78) and overall titles won (80, excluding the Latin Cup), and the only to have won all Portuguese competitions.
Porto is the club with most Portuguese Super Cups and international titles won being the only Portuguese team with international titles in the XXI century, among which, two World Championships.
Sporting CP holds the third place when it comes to the most league and cup titles. Benfica is the only Portuguese club to have won two consecutive European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles, reaching ten European finals: seven European Cups and three UEFA Cup/Europa League, and finished runner-up in two Intercontinental Cups. Porto is the only Portuguese club since 1987 to have won any international competition (excluding the UEFA Intertoto Cup), gathering a total of two European Cup/UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Cup/Europa Leagues, one European Super Cup and two Intercontinental Cups and finished runner-up in one European Cup Winner's Cup and three UEFA Super Cup. Sporting CP won one European Cup Winner's Cup and was runner-up in one UEFA Cup. Apart from the big three, Braga won the last UEFA Intertoto Cup and was runner-up in one UEFA Europa League.
Galp Energia acquired the naming rights to the league in 2002, titling the division SuperLiga GalpEnergia. A four-year deal with the Austrian sports betting bwin was announced on 18 August 2005 amid questioning by the other gambling authorities in Portugal (the Santa Casa da Misericórdia and the Portuguese Casinos Association), who claimed to hold the exclusive rights to legal gambling games in Portuguese national territory. After holding the name Liga betandwin.com for the 2005–06 season, the name was changed to BWINLIGA in July 2006.
From the 2008–09 season to the 2009–10 season the league was named Liga Sagres due to sponsorship from Sagres beer. In 2010, they renewed the sponsorship from Sagres, but also got the sponsorship from ZON Multimédia. The league was named Liga ZON Sagres until 2013–14 after the sponsorship agreement between Sagres, ZON (now NOS) and the league ended. Since 2015, it is known as Liga NOS.
- Sponsorship names for seasons
- 2002–2005: SuperLiga GalpEnergia
- 2005–2006: Liga betandwin.com
- 2006–2008: BWINLIGA
- 2008–2010: Liga Sagres
- 2010–2014: Liga ZON Sagres
- 2014–2018: Liga NOS
Official match ballEdit
- 2002–2004: Adidas Fevernova
- 2004–2006: Adidas Roteiro
- 2006–2007: Adidas +Teamgeist
- 2008: Adidas Europass
- 2008–2009: Adidas Europass Portugal
- 2009–2010: Adidas Terrapass Liga Sagres
- 2010–2011: Adidas Jabulani
- 2011: Adidas Speedcell
- 2012: Adidas Tango 12
- 2013: Adidas Cafusa
- 2014: Adidas Brazuca
- 2015: Adidas Conext15
- 2016: Adidas Errejota
- 2016–17: Nike Ordem
From the 2014–15 season on, there are 18 clubs in the Primeira Liga, up from 16 in the previous seasons. During the course of a season, each club plays all teams twice – once at their home stadium and once at their opponent's – for a total of 34 games. At the end of each season, the two lowest placed teams are relegated to the Segunda Liga and the top two teams from Segunda Liga are promoted to the Primeira Liga.
Qualification for European competitionsEdit
The top teams in Primeira Liga qualify for the UEFA Champions League with the first placed team directly entering the group stage and the second placed team entering the playoffs for the group stage of UEFA Champions League. Teams placed third and fourth play in the UEFA Europa League, along with the Taça de Portugal cup winners (unless they already qualify for the UEFA Champions League through league placing). In this case, the berth is given to the sixth placed team.
UEFA League Ranking at the end of the 2016–17 season:
Since the beginning of the league, there are three clubs with an attendance much higher than the others: Benfica, Porto and Sporting CP. They have also the biggest stadiums in Portugal, with more than 50,000 seats. Other clubs, such as Vitória de Guimarães and Braga, also have good attendances. Académica de Coimbra, Vitória de Setúbal, Boavista, Belenenses, and Marítimo are historical clubs, with more than 30 top-flight seasons, from the biggest Portuguese cities, and have also many supporters. However, they do not have big attendances nowadays. Their stadiums have between 10,000 and 30,000 seats.
The 2014–15 season saw an average attendance by club:
|1||Benfica||48,520||64,642||75.06%||824,845||Estádio da Luz|
|2||Sporting CP||34,988||50,044||69.91%||594,800||Estádio José Alvalade|
|3||Porto||31,847||50,431||63.15%||541,403||Estádio do Dragão|
|4||Vitória de Guimarães||15,906||30,008||53.01%||270,408||Estádio D. Afonso Henriques|
|5||Braga||10,682||30,286||35.27%||181,588||Estádio Municipal de Braga|
|6||Académica||5,154||29,744||17.33%||87,621||Estádio Cidade de Coimbra|
|7||Boavista||4,614||30,000||15.38%||78,436||Estádio do Bessa|
|8||Marítimo||4,566||7,200||70.74%||77,618||Estádio dos Barreiros|
|9||Vitória de Setúbal||3,406||13,468||25.29%||57,909||Estádio do Bonfim|
|10||Belenenses||3,303||19,856||16.64%||56,159||Estádio do Restelo|
|11||Gil Vicente||3,150||12,032||26.18%||53,553||Estádio Cidade de Barcelos|
|12||Paços de Ferreira||3,053||6,404||47.67%||51,893||Estádio da Mata Real|
|13||Rio Ave||2,968||9,065||32.74%||50,458||Estádio do Rio Ave FC|
|14||Nacional||2,163||5,586||38.71%||36,763||Estádio da Madeira|
|15||Moreirense||2,151||6,153||34.95%||36,563||Estádio Municipal 25 de Abril|
|16||Estoril||2,071||8,000||27.08%||35,211||Estádio António Coimbra da Mota|
|17||Arouca||1,718||5,000||36.50%||29,202||Estádio Municipal de Arouca|
|18||Penafiel||1,579||5,230||30.19%||26,846||Estádio Municipal 25 de Abril|
List of champions and top scorersEdit
- (1) Porto saw six points subtracted for corruption allegations in the Apito Dourado, but recovered those points in July 2017.
Performance by clubEdit
|Club||Winners||Runners-up||Winning Years and Runner-Up Years|
|Benfica||36||27||1936, 1937, 1938, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017|
|Porto||27||26||1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1951, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1969, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017|
|Sporting CP||18||21||1935, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2016|
||1937, 1946, 1955, 1973|
||1976, 1999, 2001, 2002|
|Vitória de Setúbal||–||
Primeira Liga all-time rankingEdit
For comparison, older seasons have been calculated according to the three-points-per-win rule. Source up to end of 2004–05 season.
|1||Benfica||Lisbon||83||2330||1588||441||301||5205||5629||2056||3573||1935||2017||1st (36 titles)||Never relegated.|
|2||Porto||Porto||83||2330||1538||430||365||5041||5164||2089||3075||1935||2017||1st (27 titles)||Never relegated.|
|3||Sporting CP||Lisbon||83||2330||1435||491||404||4796||5108||2229||2879||1935||2017||1st (18 titles)||Never relegated.|
|4||Belenenses||Lisbon||76||2112||868||517||727||3118||3319||2699||620||1935||2017||1st (1 title)|
|5||Vitória de Guimarães||Braga||72||2120||822||508||790||2974||2992||3005||-13||1942||2017||3rd|
|7||Vitória de Setúbal||Setúbal||69||1970||672||471||827||2487||2702||2976||-274||1935||2017||2nd|
|8||Boavista||Porto||54||1636||630||414||592||2304||2168||2258||-90||1936||2017||1st (1 title)|
|16||CUF do Barreiro||Setúbal||23||610||207||148||255||769||829||1004||-175||1943||1976||3rd||Renamed Fabril do Barreiro in 2000.|
|18||Paços de Ferreira||Porto||19||614||186||182||246||740||642||807||-165||1992||2017||3rd|
|20||União de Leiria||Leiria||18||584||184||159||241||711||620||771||-151||1980||2012||5th|
|25||Estrela da Amadora||Lisbon||16||540||144||176||220||608||521||680||-159||1989||2009||7th||Folded in 2011.|
|29||Sporting da Covilhã||Castelo Branco||15||406||126||79||201||457||585||834||-249||1949||1988||5th|
|31||Lusitano de Évora||Évora||14||364||116||64||184||412||494||722||-228||1953||1966||5th|
|32||Sporting de Espinho||Aveiro||11||354||96||91||167||379||336||523||-187||1975||1997||7th|
|36||União da Madeira||Madeira||6||208||48||62||98||206||177||300||-123||1990||2016||10th|
|37||Naval 1º de Maio||Coimbra||6||184||49||46||89||193||160||257||-97||2006||2011||8th|
|40||Campomaiorense||Portalegre||5||170||48||34||88||178||186||287||-101||1996||2001||11th||Ended football team in 2013.|
|42||União de Tomar||Santarém||6||172||43||33||96||162||178||331||-153||1969||1976||10th|
|43||O Elvas||Portalegre||5||146||37||37||72||148||211||283||-72||1948||1988||8th||Ended football team in 2014.|
|47||Académico de Viseu||Viseu||4||128||27||24||77||105||81||237||-156||1979||1989||13th|
|49||Santa Clara||Ponta Delgada||3||102||24||31||47||103||106||150||-44||2000||2003||14th|
|50||Montijo||Setúbal||3||90||23||20||47||89||91||155||-64||1973||1977||13th||Folded in 2007.|
|52||Desportivo das Aves||Porto||3||94||16||25||53||73||78||152||-74||1986||2007||13th|
|55||Carcavelinhos||Lisbon||5||82||19||12||51||69||103||223||-120||1936||1942||4th||Merged to form Atlético in 1942.|
|56||Unidos de Lisboa||Lisbon||3||54||18||8||28||62||151||145||6||1941||1943||4th||Ended football team in 2009.|
|58||Académico do Porto||Porto||5||82||18||6||58||60||137||300||-163||1935||1942||7th||Ended football team in 1964.|
|59||SL Elvas||Portalegre||2||48||17||3||28||54||108||167||-59||1946||1947||9th||Merged to form O Elvas in 1947.|
|61||Felgueiras||Porto||1||34||8||9||17||33||29||47||-18||1996||1996||16th||Folded in 2005.|
|62||Seixal||Setúbal||2||52||7||8||37||29||44||150||-106||1964||1965||12th||Ended football team in 2007.|
|63||Riopele||Braga||1||30||6||9||15||27||23||51||-28||1978||1978||15th||Folded in 1984.|
|66||União de Coimbra||Coimbra||1||30||5||7||18||22||22||54||-32||1973||1973||15th||Ended football team in 2009.|
|67||Ginásio de Alcobaça||Leiria||1||30||4||7||19||19||20||56||-36||1983||1983||16th|
|69||União de Lisboa||Lisbon||1||14||3||2||9||11||30||49||-19||1935||1935||6th||Merged to form Atlético in 1942.|
|Competing in Primeira Liga|
|Competing in Segunda Liga|
|Competing below Segunda Liga|
|Not competing (See Notes)|
For standardisation purposes, a win is worth three points for all clubs.
- In 1972–73, Benfica became the first team to win the Portuguese league without defeat, with 58 points in 30 games (28 wins and 2 draws), the most ever obtained (96.7% of points available) where victory was awarded 2 points. In this season, Benfica set the Portuguese league and European leagues record for most consecutive victories (23) – 29 wins overall, between 1971–72 and 1972–73. Benfica also set the league record for greatest margin of victory in points over the second-placed team (18 points) in a 2 points per win championship.
- From 24 October 1976 to 1 September 1978, Benfica set the record for the longest unbeaten run in the league: 56 matches.
- In 1977–78, Benfica completed the Portuguese league unbeaten for the second time (21 wins and 9 draws), despite finishing second.
- In 1998–99, Porto became the only team to win five consecutive titles.
- In 2010–11, Porto won the Portuguese league without defeat, with 84 points in 30 games (27 wins and 3 draws), the most ever obtained (93.3% efficiency) where victory was awarded 3 points. This season Porto also set the league record for greatest margin of victory in points over the second-placed team (21 points) in a 3 points per win championship.
- In 2012–13, Porto won the Portuguese league unbeaten for the second time (24 wins and 6 draws).
- In 2015–16, Benfica achieved a record 88 points in the Portuguese league (29 wins, 1 draw and 4 defeats in 34 games).
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