|Number of teams||8|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Azerbaijan First Division|
|Domestic cup(s)|| Azerbaijan Cup |
|International cup(s)|| UEFA Champions League |
UEFA Europa League
|Current champions|| Qarabağ (8th title) |
|Most championships|| Neftchi Baku |
& Qarabağ (8 titles)
|TV partners||CBC Sport|
The Azerbaijani Premier League (Azerbaijani : Azərbaycan Premyer Liqası) is the top tier in Azerbaijani club football. The league is contested by 8 teams, in which the season runs from August to May. The winner enters the UEFA Champions League from the first qualifying round.
The Azerbaijani Premier League was first organized in 2007 and succeeded the Top Division (Azerbaijani : Yüksək Liqa), which 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 2018–19 season for the seventh time.
The league was 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.In 1997, Kapaz were known for their unbeaten run as club's final record for the 1997–98 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.
As league entered a new century, the Neftchi Baku found themselves facing new challengers. They were challenged by emerging Khazar Lankaran, Inter Baku and Baku in both competitions. The country's football received major blow in 2002, when UEFA imposed a two-year ban in response to a long-standing conflict between the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and majority of the country's top flight clubs.The domestic championship was abandoned as a result of the conflict and the top clubs prevented their players from playing for the national team, with tax officials also probing allegations of fraud at the Azerbaijan federation. Under the management of Agaselim Mirjavadov, Khazar Lankaran finished as Azerbaijan Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, while becoming league champions in 2006–07 despite losing the title to Neftchi in 2004–05 during Championship play-off. Qarabağ was the first ever team from Azerbaijan to reach UEFA Europa League play off-round during the seasons 2009–10 and 2010–11. Few gave chances for qualification to the next round, although the Aghdam side caused quite a stir against favorites Rosenborg, Honka, Twente and Wisła Kraków.
The 2010s brought a bright start, with Neftchi emerged as a champion after six years of unsuccessful run.In the next season, Neftchi repeated its domestic success after sealing their seventh title in club's history. In that year, Neftchi Baku became the first Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition. In 2012–13 season, Neftchi managed to win three titles in a row. In 2013–14 season, Qarabağ managed to win its 2nd title after 21 years, and continue to win domestic title consecutively. In 2014, Qarabağ became the second and most successful Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a European competition. After consecutive participation in Europe League, in 2017, Qarabağ Ağdam became the first Azerbaijani team which advanced to group stage of a Champions League.
On 19 June 2020, the AFFA announced that the 2019–20 was officially ended without the resumption of the remains matches due to the escalating situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Azerbaijan. As a result Qarabağ were crowed champions for the seventh season in a row, whilst also qualifying for the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League, with Neftçi, Keşla and Sumgayit qualifying for the 2020–21 UEFA Europa League.
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 28 games.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 Azerbaijani Premier League and the Azerbaijan First Division. The lowest placed team in Premier League is relegated to the First Division, and the top team 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;
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.
|Season||Total attendance||Number of |
|†League was cancelled||-||-||-|
†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.
The UniBank, who had sponsored the league since 2009, did not renew their sponsorship at the end of the 2011–12 season.Talks began with Topaz betting operator, and a deal was confirmed shortly afterwards.
On August 2019, cooperation was suspended and PFL announced a new tender for sponsorship.
As well as sponsorship for the league itself, the Premier League has a number of official partners and suppliers. The technical for the league is Nike who is providing their match ball for the season.
Since the APL began, five of its member clubs have entered administration, while nearly twenty clubs liquidated.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 Country Ranking for league participation after 2018–19 European football season.
|International|| Bet365 |
|Gabala||Gabala||Gabala City Stadium||4,500|
|Neftchi Baku||Baku||Bakcell Arena||11,000|
|Sumgayit||Sumqayit||Kapital Bank Arena||1,500|
|Zira||Zira, Baku||Zira Olympic Sport Complex Stadium||1,500|
Players in the Premier League compete for the Azerbaijani 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.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.
|Season||Champion||Runner-up||Third place||Top scorers|
|1992||Neftchi Baku||Khazar Sumgayit||Turan|
|1995–96||Neftchi Baku||Khazri Buzovna||Kapaz|
|1996–97||Neftchi Baku||Qarabağ||Khazri Buzovna|
|2000–01||Shamkir||Neftchi Baku||Vilash Masalli|
|2001–02||The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan and the clubs were discontinued due to the conflict between the clubs and the results were not taken into account.|
|2002–03||Due to conflict between almost all clubs and the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, no league championship was held.|
|2004–05||Neftchi Baku||Khazar Lankaran||Karvan|
|2006–07||Khazar Lankaran||Neftchi Baku||Baku|
|2007–08||Inter Baku||AZAL||Neftchi Baku|
|2010–11||Neftchi Baku||Khazar Lankaran||Qarabağ|
|2011–12||Neftchi Baku||Khazar Lankaran||Inter Baku|
|2012–13||Neftchi Baku||Qarabağ||Inter Baku|
|2019–20||Qarabağ||Neftchi Baku||Keşla||Four Players, (7 goals)|
|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|
|Qarabağ||1993, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20|
|Kapaz||1994-95, 1997-98, 1998-99|
|Inter Baku/Keşla||2007-08, 2009-10|
Azerbaijani 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.Opinions on this rule appear to be divided among APL managers.
The current Azerbaijani 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.
In addition to the winner's Trophy and the individual winner's medal players receive, Azerbaijani 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 Azerbaijani Premier League are handed out.
The 2010–11 Azerbaijan Premier League was the nineteenth season of the Premier League since its establishment in 1992. The fixtures were announced on 29 July 2010; the season began on 7 August 2010 and ended on 28 May 2011. Neftchi Baku were the eventual champions, winning their first Azerbaijani championship since 2005.
The 2011–12 Azerbaijan Premier League was the twentieth season of the Premier League since its establishment in 1992. Neftchi Baku was the defending champions, having won their second Azerbaijani championship the previous season.
The 2012–13 Azerbaijan Premier League was the twenty first season of the Premier League since its establishment in 1992. The season began on 4 August 2012 and finished on 20 May 2013. Neftchi Baku are the defending champions, having won the previous season.
The Sumgayit 2012-13 season is Sumgayit's second Azerbaijan Premier League season, and second season under Bernhard Raab. Sumgayit also competed in the 2012–13 Azerbaijan Cup, getting knocked out by Baku at the Second round stage.
The 2013–14 Azerbaijan Premier League is the 22nd season of Azerbaijan Premier League, the Azerbaijani professional league for association football clubs, since its establishment in 1992. Neftchi Baku are the defending champions, having won the previous season.
The 2015–16 season was Gabala FK's 11th season, and their 10th in the Azerbaijan Premier League, the top-flight of Azerbaijani football. Domestically, Gabala finished 3rd in the Premier League for the third season in a row and reached the Semifinals of the Azerbaijan Cup where they were defeated by Neftchi Baku. In Europe Gabala reached the Group Stages of the UEFA Europa League where they faced PAOK, Krasnodar and Borussia Dortmund before finishing bottom of the group.
The Qarabağ 2015-16 season is Qarabağ's 24th Azerbaijan Premier League season, of which they are defending champions, and will be their eighth season under manager Gurban Gurbanov. They will participate in the League, the Azerbaijan Cup and the UEFA Champions League, entering at the Second qualifying round.
The 2015–16 Azerbaijan Premier League was the 24th season of Azerbaijan Premier League, the Azerbaijani professional league for association football clubs, since its establishment in 1992. Qarabağ were the defending champions, having won the 2014–15 Azerbaijan season.
The Zira FK 2015-16 season is Zira's first Azerbaijan Premier League season, and second season in their history. It is their first season with Adil Shukurov as manager, during which they participate in the Azerbaijan Cup as well as the League.
The Sumgayit FK 2015-16 season is Sumgayit's fifth Azerbaijan Premier League season, and sixth season in their history. They will participate in the Azerbaijan Cup as well as the League.
The 2016–17 Azerbaijan Premier League was the 25th season of the Azerbaijan Premier League, the Azerbaijani professional league for association football clubs, since its establishment in 1992. Qarabağ were the defending champions, having won the previous season. The season began on 6 August 2016 and concluded on 29 April 2017.
The Neftchi Baku 2016–17 season is Neftchi Baku's 25th Azerbaijan Premier League season. Neftchi will compete Azerbaijan Premier League and in the 2016–17 Azerbaijan Cup and UEFA Europa League.
The Qarabağ 2016-17 season is Qarabağ's 25th Azerbaijan Premier League season, of which they are defending champions, and will be their ninth season under manager Gurban Gurbanov. They won the League for the fourth season in a row on 16 April 2017, reaching the final of the Azerbaijan Cup and the group stages of the UEFA Europa League having been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League in the 3rd qualifying round by Viktoria Plzeň on away goals.
The Inter Baku 2016-17 season was Inter Baku's sixteenth Azerbaijan Premier League season, and their second season under manager Zaur Svanadze. They finished the season in third place, and were knocked out of the Azerbaijan Cup at the semifinal stage by Gabala.
The 2017–18 season was Gabala FK's 13th season, and their 12th in the Azerbaijan Premier League, the top-flight of Azerbaijani football. Gabala finished the season in second place, 16 points behind champions Qarabağ. In the Azerbaijan Cup were runners-up for the second year in a row, losing to Keşla 1-0 in the final whilst they also reached the Third qualifying round of the Europa League before being knocked out by Panathinaikos.
The Keşla 2017-18 season was Inter Baku's seventeenth Azerbaijan Premier League season.
The 2017–18 Azerbaijan Premier League was the 26th season of the Azerbaijan Premier League. The season began on 11 August 2017 and ended on 19 May 2018. Qarabağ were the defending champions.
The Neftchi Baku 2017–18 season is Neftchi Baku's 26th Azerbaijan Premier League season. Neftchi will compete Azerbaijan Premier League and in the 2017–18 Azerbaijan Cup.
The 2018–19 Azerbaijan Premier League was the 27th season of the Azerbaijan Premier League. It was won by defending champions Qarabağ. The season began on 11 August 2018.
The 2019–20 Azerbaijan Premier League was the 28th season of the Azerbaijan Premier League with Qarabağ being the defending champions. The season began on 16 August 2019, before being prematurely ended on 19 June 2020.