The Israeli Premier League (Hebrew: ליגת העל, Ligat HaAl, lit. The Super League) is an Israeli professional league for association football clubs. It is the highest tier of the professional Israeli football league system. Contested by 14 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with Liga Leumit. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 32 matches each, totalling 224 matches in the season. Five games are played on Saturdays, with one game played on Sundays and one game on Mondays. It is sponsored by Toto Winner and therefore officially known as Ligat Winner (Hebrew: ליגת ווינר).
The competition formed on 1999 following the decision of the Israeli Football Association to form a new league. It is also ranked nineteenth in the UEFA coefficients of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five years, ahead of the Belarusian Premier League and Poland's Ekstraklasa.
Since 1923, a total of 14 clubs have been crowned champions of the Israeli football system. Of the twenty-seven clubs to have competed since the inception of the Israeli Premier League in 1999, six have won the title: Beitar Jerusalem (twice), Hapoel Tel Aviv (twice), Maccabi Haifa (seven times), Maccabi Tel Aviv (four times), and Ironi Kiryat Shmona (once). The current champions are Hapoel Be'er Sheva, who won the 2015–16 season.
The Israeli Premier League was created in 1999 to replace Liga Leumit (which became the second tier) when the Israel Football Association decided to reshuffle all the leagues in hopes of improving competition. In its first season there were 14 clubs; the top thirteen clubs from the 1998–99 season and the top place club from the Liga Artzit (then the second division). That season three clubs were relegated and one from Liga Leumit was promoted. Over the years the league has changed names though the new names were simply commercial rebranding, including Ligat Pelephone, Ligat Toto and Ligat Winner.
There are 14 clubs in the league. At the end of each season, the two lowest-placed teams are relegated to Liga Leumit while two highest-placed teams of Liga Leumit are promoted in their place. For the 2012–13 season the league was decreased from 16 to 14 clubs as a result of reforms passed by the IFA on 27 June 2011.
The participating clubs first play a conventional round-robin schedule for a total of 26 matches.
Following this, the top six teams play in a championship playoff, where they meet each other twice. Upon its conclusion, the first place team wins the Israeli championship and qualifies to participate in the second qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League. The runners-up and the third-placed teams qualify for the second qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League.
In Addition, the Israeli State Cup winners qualify for the second qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League. If the State Cup winners are also one of the teams to finish in the league's top three places then the fourth-placed team will also play in Europa League. In case the State Cup winners also win the Israeli Premier League then the fourth-placed league team will play in Europa League second qualifying round.
In addition, the bottom eight teams will play each other once to avoid two relegation spots.
A total of 27 clubs have played in the Israeli Premier League from its inception in 1999 and the start of the 2011–12 season. For a list of winners and runners-up of the Israeli Premier League since its inception, and top scorers for each season, see List of Israeli football champions.
Four clubs have been members of the Israeli Premier League for every season since its inception. This group is composed of Beitar Jerusalem, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The following 14 clubs will compete in the Israeli Premier League during the 2015–16 season.
a: Never been relegated from the Israeli Premier League
b: One of the original 14 Israeli Premier League teams
In recent years, the league has been sponsored. The sponsor has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. The list below details who the sponsors have been and what they called the competition:2002–2004: Pelephone – a mobile phone company (Ligat Pelephone)
2005–2010: Toto Winner Organization – the Israeli Sports Betting Board (Ligat Toto)
2010–present: Toto Winner Organization – the Israeli Sports Betting Board (Ligat Winner)
Teams are limited to five foreign players per team. Special circumstances such as Druze players from the Golan (no citizenship) or cases such as that of Toto Tamuz, do not count against the foreign player limit.
Israeli Premier League games are broadcast live on Sport 1, Sport 1 HD, and Sport 2 channels, with the big match of the week which is reserved to be shown by Channel 1 and Channel 1 HD network television. There is also a league review show on Saturday nights at Sport 5 channel.
Abroad, rights to broadcasting in Hebrew are owned by The Israeli Network which broadcasts the matches in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Panama, Costa Rica and in Europe.
In the United Kingdom, William Hill broadcasts matches live with English commentary on their online television service, William Hill TV.
The rights of broadcasting on the radio belongs to Radio Tel Aviv since 2011, which broadcast alongside Radio Haifa, Radio Darom, Radio Galei Zahal and Radio Darom 101.5 in a show called Saturday of Football which also broadcasts live on ONE TV channel.
The big match of the week is shown on the Channel 1 website. Since 2010, games summaries are shown online by Ynet, ONE and Sport 5.
Since 2012, ONE owns the broadcasting rights, which was previously owned by Sport 5.
Main sources of revenue for the clubs:Television
Toto Winner – The Israeli Sports Betting Council
In European Leagues:Source: UEFA Coefficients Graphs, 2017 UEFA Country Ranking
15 Gambrinus Liga
16 Liga I
17 Israeli Premier League
18 Cypriot First Division
19 Danish Superliga
For the complete list read the main article.
When the Israeli Premier League became the top division of Israeli football in 1999–2000, Liga Leumit became the second division. Since then, only six clubs have won the title; Hapoel Tel Aviv, Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Be'er Sheva. Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem are sometimes referred to as the "Big Four" of Israeli football.
Having won seven titles in the league's 17 seasons, the most successful club during this period is Maccabi Haifa; during the same period Maccabi Tel Aviv have added four to their total while Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv have won two championships each. Although Hapoel Tel Aviv have only finished top of the league twice since 1999—in 1999–2000 and ten years later in 2009–10—they have won the double on both occasions.
This achievement was matched by Beitar Jerusalem in 2007–08. Ironi Kiryat Shmona won their first championship during the 2011–12 season, thereby becoming the first northern title-winners. Maccabi Tel Aviv then won three titles in a row, including a Treble in 2014–15.Key
The All-time Israeli Premier League table is a cumulative record of all match results, points and goals of every team that has played in the Israeli Premier League since its inception in 1999. The table that follows is accurate as of the end of the 2013–14 season. Teams in bold are part of the 2016–17 Israeli Premier League. Numbers in bold are the record (highest) numbers in each column.
League or status at 2015–16: