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Azerbaijan Premier League

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Azerbaijan Premier League

Azerbaijan Premier League
Country Azerbaijan
Confederation UEFA
Founded 1992 (1992)
Number of teams 10
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Azerbaijan First Division
Domestic cup(s) Azerbaijan Cup
Azerbaijan Supercup
International cup(s) UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
Current champions Qarabağ (3 titles)
Most championships Neftchi Baku (8 titles)
TV partners CBC Azerbaijan
2015–16 Azerbaijan Premier League

The Azerbaijan Premier League (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan Premyer Liqası), currently named Topaz Premyer Liqası after its main sponsor, is the top tier in Azerbaijani club football. The league is contested by 12 teams, in which the season runs from August to May. The winner gets a second round play off spot in the UEFA Champions League.

The Azerbaijan Premier League was organized in 2007 and succeeded the Top Division (Azerbaijani: Yüksək Liqa), the difference being that the Top Division was run by the Professional Football League of Azerbaijan, and the creation of the Premier League gave the clubs a greater degree of independence. The Top Division had existed from 1992 to 2007.

Since 1992, a total of 8 clubs have been crowned champions of the Azerbaijani football system. The current champions are Qarabağ, who won the title in the 2014-15 season for the third time.


The 1990s

The league were dominated by teams like Neftchi Baku, Kapaz, Turan Tovuz and Shamkir. However, financial struggles had bad impact on local clubs and most teams such as Khazri Buzovna, Shamkir, Vilash Masalli and Shafa Baku went bust due increasing debts.[1] In 1997, Kapaz were known for their unbeaten run as club's final record for the 1997–1998 league campaign stood at 22 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses, out of 26 games total, an unbeaten run not matched in any single season by any team in an Azerbaijani league division.[2]

The 2000s

As league entered a new century, the Honka, Twente and Wisła Kraków.

The 2010s

Under Gurban Gurbanov's management, Qarabağ became the second team to represent Azerbaijan in the European Cup.

The 2010s brought a bright start, with Neftchi emerged as a champion after six years of unsuccessful run.[5][6] In the next season, Neftchi repeated its domestic success after sealing their seventh title in club's history.[7][8] In that year, Neftchi Baku became the first Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition.[9] In 2012–13 season, Neftchi managed to win three titles in a row.[10][11] In 2013–14 season, Qarabağ managed to win its 2nd title after 21 years.[12] In 2014, Qarabağ became the second Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition.[13]

Competition format

The competition format follows the usual double round-robin format. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays every other club four times, two times at home and two times away, for a total of 36 games.[14] Teams receive three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, with the highest-ranked club at the end of the season crowned champion.

A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Azerbaijan Premier League and the Azerbaijan First Division. The two lowest placed teams in Premier League are relegated to the First Division, and the top two teams from the First Division promoted to Premier League. Below is a complete record of how many teams played in each season throughout the league's history;

  • 26 clubs = 1992
  • 20 clubs = 1993
  • 16 clubs = 1993–1994
  • 13 clubs = 1994–1995
  • 11 clubs = 1995–1996
  • 16 clubs = 1996–1997
  • 15 clubs = 1997–1998
  • 14 clubs = 1998–1999
  • 12 clubs = 1999–2000
  • 11 clubs = 2000–2001
  • 12 clubs = 2001–2002
  • 14 clubs = 2003–2004
  • 18 clubs = 2004–2005
  • 14 clubs = 2005–2006
  • 13 clubs = 2006–2007
  • 14 clubs = 2007–2009
  • 12 clubs = 2009–2013
  • 10 clubs = 2013–present

Qualification for European competitions

The champions qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the second and third placed teams qualifies for the UEFA Europa League. As of the start of the 2011–12 Premier League season qualification for European competitions is as follows: champions qualify for the second qualifying stage of the UEFA Champions League, runners-up and third placed team qualifies for the first qualifying round of the Europa League. A fourth spot is given to the winner of the Azerbaijan Cup, who qualify for the first round of the Europa League. If the Azerbaijan Cup winner has already qualified for European competition through their league finish, then the runners-up take their place in the first round. If the runners-up have also qualified, the next highest placed club in the league takes their place.



Kapaz has the highest attendance in the Caucasus region.
Total attendance
Number of
Average attendance
per match
2001–02 187,929 171 1,099 [15]
†League was cancelled - - -
2003–04 195,840 144 1,360 [16]
2004–05 470,670 290 1,623 [16]
2005–06 183,365 169 1,085 [16]
2006–07 225,216 144 1,564 [16]
2007–08 277,667 169 1,643 [16]
2008–09 309,582 182 1,701 [16]
2009–10 340,522 172 1,979 [17]
2010–11 418,418 192 2,179 [17]
2011–12 433,342 192 2,256 [18]
2012–13 364,910 192 1,900 [19]
2013–14 281,400 175 1,608 [20]

UEFA has suspended the league after longstanding conflict between the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and the majority of the country's top-flight clubs.[21]


The UniBank, who had sponsored the league since 2009, did not renew their sponsorship at the end of the 2011–12 season.[22][23] Talks began with Topaz betting operator, and a deal was confirmed shortly afterwards.[24]

  • 2009–2012: Unibank Premyer Liqası[25]
  • 2012–2016: Topaz Premyer Liqası[26]

As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Premier League has a number of official partners and suppliers. The official ball supplier for the league is Adidas who is providing their Cafusa match ball for the season.[27]

Insolvency events

Since the APL began, five of its member clubs have entered administration, while nearly twenty clubs liquidated.[28][29] A reduction in revenue from ticket sales for APL games and club merchandise impacted negatively on club expenditure. Players were asked to consider wage cuts and team squads were reduced.

A major criticism of the Premier League in the mid-2000s was the emergence of gulf between the Premier League and the First Division. Criticism of the gap between clubs has continued, nevertheless, due to some clubs' increasing ability to spend more than the other Premier League clubs. For some clubs, including Shamkir, Karvan, Absheron, MKT-Araz who have failed to win immediate promotion back to the top flight, financial problems, including in some cases administration or even liquidation have followed.

UEFA ranking

UEFA Country Ranking for league participation in 2013–14 European football season.

Movement Last Season
League Coefficient
27 Steady (27) Serbian SuperLiga 13.375
28 Substituted in (29) Slovenian PrvaLiga 10.750
29 Substituted in (30) Slovak First Football League 12.875
30 Substituted in (32) Azerbaijan Premier League 11.250
31 Substituted off (28) Nemzeti Bajnokság I 11.000
32 Substituted in (34) Kazakhstan Premier League 10.375
33 Substituted off (32) Moldovan National Division 10.000
Last Updated: 29 August 2014.[30]

Media coverage

Country Broadcaster
 Azerbaijan CBC, CBC Sport
International Bet365

Members of the Azerbaijan Premier League (2015-16 season)

Location of teams in 2015–16 Azerbaijan Premier League

Baku and Simurq were relegated to Azerbaijan First Division.

Zira FK enters the Premier League just one year after their formation, and Kapaz PFK returns to the top level after two years of absence. Zira and Kapaz became fifth and ninth, respectively, in the 2014–15 First Division. They replace Araz-Naxçıvan PFK, which withdrew from the league in November 2014, and Baku FC, which relegated at the end of the previous season.[31]

Stadia and locations

Note: Table lists in alphabetical order.
Team Location Venue Capacity[32]
AZAL Baku AZAL Stadium 5,000
Gabala Gabala Gabala City Stadium 5,000
Inter Baku Baku Inter Arena 10,000
Kapaz Ganja Ganja City Stadium 26,000
Khazar Lankaran Lankaran Lankaran City Stadium 15,000
Neftchi Baku Baku Bakcell Arena 11,000
Qarabağ Baku Karabakh Stadium 5,800
Ravan Baku Bayil Stadium 3,000
Sumgayit Sumqayit Kapital Bank Arena 1,500
Zira Baku Zira Olympic Sport Complex Stadium 1,500



Players in the Premier League compete for the Azerbaijan Premier League Golden Boot, awarded to the top scorer at the end of each season. Nazim Aliyev is the league's all-time top scorer with 183 goals, including 39 in the 1992 season.[33] During the 1995–96 season he became the first player to score 100 Premier League goals. Since then, 10 other players have reached the 100-goal mark.[33]

Khagani Mammadov is one of the highest goalscorers in Premier League.
Top Ten Highest Goalscorers[34]
Player Period Club[35] Goals
1 Nazim Aliyev 1992–1999 Neftchi Baku 183
2 Mushfig Huseynov 1992–2007 Qarabağ 125
3 Rovshan Ahmadov 1992–2003 Kapaz 116
4 Gurban Gurbanov 1990–2006 Neftchi Baku 115
5 Samir Alakbarov 1992–2001 Neftchi Baku 115
6 Alay Bahramov 1992–1999 Viləş Masallı 108
7 Vadim Vasilyev 1994–2007 Baki Fehlesi 102
8 Khagani Mammadov 1994–2012 Inter Baku 102
9 Kanan Karimov 1995–2012 Shamkir 101
10 Nadir Nabiyev 1995–2012 Turan 100
Aslan Kerimov is one of the most capped players in Premier League.
Top Ten Players With Most Appearances[36]
Player Period Club[37] Games
1 Azer Mammadov 1992–2012 Kapaz 445
2 Mahmud Gurbanov 1992–2012 Kapaz 421
3 Aslan Kerimov 1992–2011 Qarabağ 382
4 Agil Mammadov 1992–2011 Turan 364
5 Ismayil Mammadov 1992–2009 Shamkir 351
6 Kanan Karimov 1995–2012 Shamkir 327
7 Nadir Nabiyev 1995–2012 Turan 316
8 Mubariz Orujov 1992–2008 Khazar Lankaran 311
9 Mushfig Huseynov 1992–2007 Qarabağ 305
10 Adehim Niftaliyev 1995–2011 Khazar Lankaran 303
Biggest home win
Kapaz PFC 14–2 Shamkir (1997–98)[38]
Most consecutive games unbeaten
Kəpəz, 30 games, 1997-98[2]
Youngest goalscorer
Orkhan Aliyev, for Sumgayit vs Gabala, 15 years old, 236 days[39]
Oldest player
Nadir Shukurov, for Karvan vs Mughan, 42 years, 19 April 2009[40]
All-time top scorer
Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit, Neftchi, Qarabag, Shafa Baku, Dinamo Baku), (183 goals)
Most APL appearances
Azer Mammadov, 445
Most goals in a season
Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit), (39 goals), 1992

Champions and top scorers

Season Champion Runner-up Third place Top scorers
1992 Neftchi Baku Khazar Sumgayit Turan Nazim Aliyev (Khazar Sumgayit, 39 goals)
1993 Qarabağ Khazar Sumgayit Turan Samir Alakbarov (Neftchi Baku, 16 goals)
1993–94 Turan Qarabağ Kapaz Musa Gurbanov (Turan, 35 goals)
1994–95 Kapaz Turan Neftchi Baku Nazim Aliyev (Neftchi Baku, 26 goals)
1995–96 Neftchi Baku Khazri Buzovna Kapaz Fazil Parvarov (Kapaz, 23 goals) / Rovshan Ahmadov (Kapaz, 23 goals)
1996–97 Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Khazri Buzovna Gurban Gurbanov (Neftchi Baku, 34 goals)
1997–98 Kapaz Baku Shamkir Nazim Aliyev (Baku, 23 goals)
1998–99 Kapaz Shamkir Neftchi Baku Alay Bahramov (Viləş Masallı, 24 goals)
1999–00 Shamkir Kapaz Neftchi Baku Badri Kvaratskhelia (Shamkir, 16 goals)
2000–01 Shamkir Neftchi Baku Vilash Masalli Pasha Aliyev (Bakili Baku, 12 goals)
2001–02 Shamkir Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Kanan Karimov (Kapaz, 14 goals) / Dmitri Kudinov (Qarabağ, 14 goals)
2002–03 Due to conflict between almost all clubs and the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, no league championship was held.[41]
2003–04 Neftchi Baku Shamkir Qarabağ Samir Musayev (Qarabağ, 20 goals)
2004–05 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Karvan Zaur Ramazanov (Karvan, 21 goals)
2005–06 Baku Karvan Neftchi Baku Yacouba Bamba (Karvan, 16 goals)
2006–07 Khazar Lankaran Neftchi Baku Baku Zaur Ramazanov (Khazar Lankaran, 20 goals)
2007–08 Inter Baku AZAL Neftchi Baku Khagani Mammadov (Inter Baku, 19 goals)
2008–09 Baku Inter Baku Simurq Walter Guglielmone (Inter Baku, 17 goals)
2009–10 Inter Baku Baku Qarabağ Farid Guliyev (Standard Baku, 16 goals)
2010–11 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Qarabağ Qarabağ, 18 goals)
2011–12 Neftchi Baku Khazar Lankaran Inter Baku Bahodir Nasimov (Neftchi Baku, 16 goals)
2012–13 Neftchi Baku Qarabağ Inter Baku Nicolás Canales (Neftchi Baku, 26 goals)
2013–14 Qarabağ Inter Baku Gabala Reynaldo (Qarabağ, 22 goals)
2014–15 Qarabağ Inter Baku Gabala Nurlan Novruzov (Baku, 15 goals)

Performance by club

Club Winners Runners-up Third place Winning Years
Neftchi Baku
1992, 1995–96, 1996–97, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13
1993, 2013–14, 2014–15
1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02
1994–95, 1997–98, 1998–99
Inter Baku
2007–08, 2009–10
2005–06, 2008–09
Khazar Lankaran
Khazar Sumgayit
Khazri Buzovna
Vilash Masalli

Azerbaijan SSR champions


Azerbaijan Premier League clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players – all players with foreign nationality, including those able to claim a passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain Azerbaijani work permits.

The only restriction on selection is the "Under-21 rule". This rule states that each club must include at least two players under the age of 21 in its matchday squad.[42] Opinions on this rule appear to be divided among APL managers.



The current Azerbaijan Premier League trophy was developed by the Professional Football League of Azerbaijan and the trophy has been awarded to the champion of Azerbaijan since the end of the 2009–10 season, replacing the previous Premier League trophy that had existed for only few years.

Monthly and annual

In addition to the winner's Trophy and the individual winner's medal players receive, Azerbaijan Premier League also awards the monthly Player of the Month award. Following the season, the awards such as the Player of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Young Player of the Year from Azerbaijan Premier League are handed out.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c d e f
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Unibank стал главным спонсором профессиональной футбольной лиги (Azerbaijani)
  23. ^ Азербайджанский «Unibank» стал официальным спонсором Премьер-лиги (Azerbaijani)
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ UEFA Country Ranking 2012
  31. ^
  32. ^ Azərbaycan Peşəkar Liqası (Azerbaijani)
  33. ^ a b Ekspress Newspaper (Azerbaijani)
  34. ^
  35. ^ where player shot the most goals
  36. ^
  37. ^ where player played the most games.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Azerbaijan 2002/03
  42. ^

External links

  • Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan Official website
  • Azerbaijani Professional Football League Official website
  • League at UEFA
  • AzeriSport
  • Azerbaijan - List of Champions,
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