Israeli Premier League
The Israeli Premier 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, 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 known as Ligat Winner. The competition formed on 1999 following the decision of the Israeli Football Association to form a new league, since 1923, a total of 14 clubs have been crowned champions of the Israeli football system. The current champions are Hapoel Beer Sheva, who won the 2015–16 season, the Israeli Premier League was created in 1999 to replace Liga Leumit 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 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, there are 14 clubs in the league. At the end of 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, 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 qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League. In Addition, the Israeli State Cup winners qualify for the qualifying round of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League. If the State Cup winners are also one of the teams to finish in the 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 league team will play in Europa League second qualifying round. In addition, the 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, 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 and this group is composed of Beitar Jerusalem, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, and Maccabi Tel Aviv
Maccabi Haifa F.C.
Maccabi Haifa Football Club is an Israeli professional football club, based in City of Haifa, a section of Maccabi Haifa sports club. The club plays in the Israeli Premier League, Maccabi Haifa home games are played at Sammy Ofer Stadium. The stadium, which is shared with rivals Hapoel Haifa, is the second largest in Israel football, Maccabi Haifa is one of four clubs in the Big Four in Israeli football. It has won twelve League titles, Six State Cups and four Toto Cups, Maccabi has won the championship and the cup in the same season one time, and was the First Israeli club to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Maccabi Haifa Football Club was established in 1913 in the city of Haifa. It was a small, struggling club that spent most of its time shifting between Liga Leumit and the lower leagues, the club was overshadowed by its city rival Hapoel Haifa. But even in its first years the club adapted a very adventurous and offensive style of play based on technique, in 1942, the club reached the Israel State Cup final, but was defeated 12–1 by Beitar Tel Aviv in the final. In 1962, the team defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 5–2 in the State Cup final, in 1963 it reached the final again, but lost to Hapoel Haifa 1–0 in the first Haifa derby in State Cup final. In the 1980s Maccabi Haifa finally entered the Israeli champions club, in the 1983–84 season Maccabi Haifa won its first ever championship, under coach Shlomo Sharf and general manager Yochanan Vollach, overcoming Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv. The Yerukim were known for their all-around-offense and flashy technique football style, often resulting in bad defensive formation, a year later, Maccabi Haifa won a second championship in a decisive performance. In 1986 Maccabi lost the championship in a final match against runners-up Hapoel Tel Aviv. Due to poor TV coverage, the issue has never been resolved, in 1988, Maccabi Haifa decimated Maccabi Tel Aviv 10–0 to earn its biggest win ever. That game, one of the famous in Israelis football lore. Furthermore, it probably was the beginning of the rivalry between the two clubs. In 1989, under the hands of Amazzia Levkovic, the club won another championship. In 1990 Maccabi Haifa established itself as a dominant club in Israel, in 1992 Maccabi Haifa was purchased by Yaakov Shahar, who became the owner and president of the club. Under Shahars management, Maccabi Haifa enjoyed financial stability and professional working regulations on a par with European football clubs standards, Maccabi Haifas highlight season was 1993–94. After winning the 1993 cup, Maccabi Haifa gave a performance in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, beating Torpedo Moscow 3–1 and Parma 1–0 in the last 16
Hapoel Haifa F.C.
Hapoel Haifa Football Club is an Israeli football club located in Haifa. The club won one championship and 3 Israeli cups, the Team is also known as The Sharks. The clubs home since the early 1990s is the Kiryat Eliezer Stadium in Haifa, in which they have played since their departure from Kiryat Haim Stadium, the colours of the teams home kit are red throughout. The away colours are white shirts, and black shorts and socks, the beginning of the club was in a local organization founded in Haifa in 1924. This organization included several related to sports, in addition to branches related to worker movements. Their goal was to found the first ever football club in Palestine. The meeting was led by Yehoshua Sherpstein and Yair Aharony, on May 1,1924, Labor Day, was the first match, in which Hapoel Haifa beat 3–1 the train workers of Haifa. In the first years of the club it played friendly matches against different teams from Palestine, Europe. At the beginning Hapoel Haifa was included under the Maccabi union, two years later the club decided to leave Maccabi, and was among the founders of the new union, Hapoel. In 1928 the Israel Football Association was founded, and formal matches were scheduled, In the first 4 years only cup matches, during these years Hapoel Haifa did not win many trophies, yet it was still one of the leading teams in the country. In 1932 the team qualified to its first cup final, against the British Police, the referee was British, and some of the decisions he made were very controversial. During the match, when the score was 1–0 to Hapoel Haifa, after some decisions that the players of Haifa found very odd and unfair, as a result, Hapoel Haifa was disqualified. That year 5 of Haifas players made it to the Palestine squad, in 1950, after the War of Independence, the Israeli League returned to action, and Haifa finished in the 3rd place, after Maccabi and Hapoel Tel-Aviv. Two years later the cup matches were renewed and these years were direct continuation to the seasons before the state of Israel was established, when the team was one of the leaders, yet did not manage to win any trophies. Hapoel was very weak in the early sixties, the team finished 1962–63 one before last, and was supposed to relegate to the second division. But, due to suspicions about improper matches, the relegations were canceled, at this turning point, many talented young players promoted from the youth team, causing a significant improvement that started the clubs best period. In the same season, 1962–63, the won the Israel State Cup. In all of the seasons the team finished in the top third of the league
Hapoel Be'er Sheva F.C.
Hapoel Beer Sheva Football Club is an Israeli football club from the city of Beersheba, that competes in the Israeli Premier League. The club was founded in 1949, and businesswoman Alona Barkat has run it since 2007, the club also includes youth groups, teens and children, and football schools. The home uniform colors of the club are red and white, until 1959, the club played its home games at a stadium that was located in the old city of Beersheba. In 1960, the moved to Vasermil Stadium. Starting from the 2015–16 season, the ground of the team is Turner Stadium. The club won its first league title in 1975, over the years, the team has won three league titles, three Toto Cups, three Super Cups and one Lilian Cup. Hapoel Beer Sheva were formed in 1949 by Zalman Casspi, casspis ambition was to build a successful team full of talented young players. The clubs first game was against a team from Mefalsim, a kibbutz in Southern Israel, the Mefalsim team was mostly made up of immigrants from South America. The game was played in a stadium in Beer Shevas Old City, at this time Hapoel played in a league with only four other clubs. Hapoel drew their games against Hapoel Rishon LeZion, Hapoel Kfar Saba, in their other game against Hapoel Ramat Gan Beer Sheva lost 4–3. In 1952, the disbanded, but were re-established 3 years later and were granted entry into the Liga Gimel. In the 1956/57 season, the team finished at the top of the league under new manager Yosef Azran, in their final game of the season, they played against Jaffa, winning 5–0, a win which gained them promotion to Liga Bet. Following the clubs promotion to Liga Bet, they appointed Lonia Dvorin as their new manager and he was replaced by Jack Gibbons, who had previously managed Hapoel Petah Tikva to five national titles as well as being the head coach of the Israel National team. In the first game under Gibbons, they played against ZVI Single, however, Hapoel felt that ZVI had played illegally and reported them to the league, which resulted in Hapoel winning the points. In the second game against Maccabi Shaarayim Hapoel won 2–0, the final game against Hapoel Natanya, a 2–1 win for Beer Sheva, granted them promotion to Liga Alef. In 1958/59 Jack Gibbons left the club and was replaced by Yehiel Moore, in 1959/60 the team moved to a new stadium and invited Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta to officially open the stadium, the Cypriot side won the game 2–1. At the beginning of the 1960s the team did not try to promote to a higher league, but in 1961–62 the club decided to bring in a foreign coach, Rober Eryol. Eryol was the only Jewish player who played at the time in the Turkey national team
Roberto Damián Colautti is a former Israel international footballer, originally from Argentina, who most recently played for AEK Larnaca in the Cypriot First Division. A striker, Colautti began his career in Argentina with Boca Juniors and he was naturalized as an Israeli citizen two years later after marrying an Israeli. He was promptly selected for the Israel national team, for which he won 21 caps over the four years. Colautti played for the German team Borussia Mönchengladbach from 2007 to 2010 and he moved to Cyprus in 2013 to join Anorthosis Famagusta, after a single season he joined AEK Larnaca. Colautti joined Israeli team Maccabi Haifa from Boca Juniors in 2004, in his first season with Maccabi he was the top scorer in the 2004–05 Israeli Premier League with 19 goals from 30 appearances in Haifas championship season. In the 2005–06 Israeli Premier League, Colautti was the second top scorer with 13 strikes from 28 matches in Haifas successful title defence. He was also involved in their victory in the 2005–06 Toto Cup, in the 2006–07 Israeli Premier League, Colautti scored seven times in 32 matches, where Haifa finished the league in fifth place. In the first round of the 2006–07 UEFA Cup, Roberto Colautti scored Maccabi Haifas third goal against Litex Lovech, arguably Colauttis and Maccabi Haifas most important goal, however, was his equalizer against AS Livorno Calcio in Livorno, Italy. In the second half, deep into time, in the 93rd minute, he dispatched Gustavo Boccolis cross with a close-range header to deny Livorno a win. Colauttis goal sent Maccabi Haifa through against CSKA, the team that had won the UEFA Cup only two years previously, Colautti played 90 league matches for Maccabi Haifa, scoring 39 goals. He won two titles with The Greens and was a key part of their successful UEFA Cup campaign. He joined second-division German side Mönchengladbach on 1 August 2007 for an undisclosed fee and he did however manage to score 3 goals in his 10 appearances. Mönchengladbach finished first in the 2, Bundesliga to gain promotion to the Bundesliga for the 2008–09 season. Colauttis second season at Borussia Park was again interrupted by injuries and he did score a crucial goal for Mönchengladbach on 10 May 2009 against Schalke in the 90th minute to score a valuable 1–0 win in his sides fourth last league match of the season. This was the Israeli forwards only goal of the season, although he did score two goals in an 8–1 victory over VfB Fichte Bielefeld in a DFB Pokal tie. On 29 March 2010, he signed a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv F. C. on 1 August 2010, Colautti scored his first goal at Maccabi Toto Cup win against Maccabi Netanya. His first season in yellow was a tough one after the club underperformed and he lost his place with the first 11 and remained a substitute for the rest of the season. After all, Colautti managed to score nine goals for Maccabi
Liga Leumit is the second tier in the Israeli football league system below the Premier League. There are 16 clubs in the league, at the end of each season, the two lowest-placed teams are relegated to Liga Alef while the two highest-placed teams from Liga Alef are promoted in their place. The two highest-placed Liga Leumit teams are promoted to the Israeli Premier League while the two teams from Israeli Premier League are relegated in their place. The participating clubs were first play a conventional round-robin schedule for a total of 30 matches, following this, the top eight teams will first play in a promotion playoff. And the eight clubs play a single round-robin schedule, the Israeli State Cup winners qualify for the third qualifying round of the 2013–14 UEFA Europa League. In addition, the eight teams play out to avoid two relegation spots. Since the 2010–11 season, One match is broadcast live on Sport +5 LIVE channel on Friday or Saturday afternoons, the rest of the matches has no TV cover. Liga Leumit came into existence at the start of the 1955–56 season, however, it was usurped as the top flight in the 1999–2000 season, when it was replaced by the Premier League. Since then it has operated as the tier in the Israeli football league system
Hapoel Nazareth Illit F.C.
Hapoel Nazareth Illit Football Club is an Israeli football club based in the city of Nazareth Illit. The club currently plays in Liga Leumit, the club was founded in 1962 as Hapoel Kiryat Nazareth and competed in Liga Gimel for several seasons, before promoting to Liga Bet at the end of the 1971–72 season. The club changed its name in 1973 after Kiryat Nazareth gained city status and was renamed Nazareth Illit, the club won 1975–76 Liga Bet, but, due to the league system restructuring, the club remained in the league systems third tier, which became Liga Alef. In 1978–79 the club won Liga Alef North division and was promoted to Liga Artzit, in 1983–84 they finished second from bottom, and were relegated to Liga Alef. Two seasons later the finished second from bottom in Liga Alef. In 1998–99 the club finished as runners-up in Liga Alef North, and was promoted back to Liga Artzit, which was now the third tier following the formation of the Israeli Premier League in 1999. After narrowly avoiding relegation in 2000–01 when they finished one place above the zone, the club finished as runners-up the following season. In 2003–04 they finished as runners-up, and were promoted to the top division for the first time in their history, in their first season in the Premier League the club finished fifth. Home matches were played at Maccabi Ahi Nazareths Ilut Stadium. They returned home in February 2005, however, the following season, 2005–06, they finished second from bottom, and returned to Liga Leumit. In 2007–08 they finished bottom of Liga Leumit, and were relegated to Liga Artzit, despite only finishing seventh in Liga Artzit in 2008–09, F. C. Nazareth Illit were promoted back to Liga Leumit as restructuring meant the top seven clubs were automatically promoted. Since then, Nazareth Illit hasnt been relegated for 3 consecutive seasons, finishing seventh in 2009–10, 11th in 2010–11, Hapoel Nazareth Illit Israel Football Association
Maccabi Netanya F.C.
Maccabi Netanya F. C. is an Israeli football club based in Netanya. Established in 1934, the club was a member of the Israeli League in 1949. After winning their first championship in 1971, the golden period lasted until the late 1980s. The club was established in the year 1934 as a Mandatory Palestinian Club and initially played in green, the clubs first season was in 1935–36 when they played in Liga Gimel which back then was the third tier in Israeli football. They became founder members of the Israeli League in 1949, and in 1954 reached the State Cup final for the first time, in 1961–62 the club finished bottom of Liga Leumit and were relegated to Liga Alef. They returned to the top division in 1964, after a third-placed finish in 1968–69, the 1970–71 season saw Netanya win their first title by a margin of eleven points, back then the largest in Israeli football history. They also reached the State Cup final, but lost 2–1 to Maccabi Tel Aviv, in 1972–73 Neyanya finished thirteenth in Liga Leumit, avoiding relegation by only two points. However, the season they won their second title. In 1975 they changed their kit to play in black and yellow and they won a third title in 1977–78, and completed the double by beating Bnei Yehuda 2–1 in the State Cup final. They also finished as winners of their group in the UEFA Intertoto Cup, a fourth championship was won in 1979–80 by a margin of ten points, whilst their fifth title, in 1982–83 was won by a fourteen-point margin. In the same season won the League Cup, a feat repeated the following year. In 1986–87 and 1988–89 they reached the League Cup final, in 1994–95 Netanya finished bottom of Liga Leumit and were relegated to Liga Artzit, in the same season the youth team won the youth championship. After winning the league in 1998–99 they returned to the top division, in December 2005 Daniel Jammer, a Jewish German businessman bought the club for a fee of $1,500,000. In 2006–07 the club finished as Premier League runners-up, a feat repeated the following season, in April 2008 Lothar Matthäus was appointed manager. Although the club led the league in the part of the 2008–09 season, they eventually finished fourth. The 2010–11 season saw the club finishing sixth in the top playoff games, the next season Netanya finished in the fourth place when they shared the same amount of points as the runners-up. This was quite an achievement considering the fact that the club didnt have a stable budget behind them or an owner to invest in the club and they were relegated again in 2012–13 after finishing second from bottom. In August 2013 Eli Segav and Yossi Maor took over as the new owners of the club, the club got relegated again at the end of the 2015–16 season