|Number of teams||18 (from 2014–15)|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Segunda Liga|
Taça de Portugal|
|League cup(s)||Taça da Liga|
UEFA Champions League|
UEFA Europa League
Benfica (35th title) |
|Most championships||Benfica (35 titles)|
|TV partners||List of broadcasters|
|2016–17 Primeira Liga|
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.
Founded in 1934 as an experimental league, it was officialised in 1938 and named Primeira Divisão (First Division) until 1999, when it recovered the original naming. A total of 70 teams have competed in the Primeira Liga, but only five have been crowned champions. Among them, the "Big Three" – Benfica (35 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 the 5th 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 8 to 10 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 8 to 10 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 (35 times), Porto (27) and Sporting CP (18). These three clubs generally end up sharing the top three positions, appearing more frequently in UEFA competitions.
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 in 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 (74) and overall titles won (76), and the only to have won all Portuguese titles. Porto is the club with most Portuguese SuperCups and international titles won. Sporting CP holds the third place when it comes to the most Championships titles and Cup titles won. 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 (against Porto).
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
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 competitions
The top teams in Primeira Liga qualify for the UEFA Champions League with the first and second placed teams directly entering the group stage and the third placed team entering the playoffs for the group stage of UEFA Champions League. Teams placed fourth and fifth 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).
Current clubs in the Primeira Liga (2016–17)
Within Portugal, Sport TV broadcasts Primeira Liga matches except Benfica home matches which are broadcast by Benfica TV. Starting in 2016-17, all league matches are broadcast live by these two channels.
- Albania – Tring Sport and SuperSport (Benfica home matches)
- Austria – Sportdigital and DAZN
- Australia –
- Azerbaijan – CBC Sport
- Belgium –
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – Sport Klub
- Brazil – Esporte Interativo and BandSports
- Bulgaria –
- Canada –
- Croatia – Sport Klub
- Cyprus – Nova Sports
- Czech Republic – Arena Sport
- Denmark –
- Estonia –
- Finland –
- France – SFR Sport
- Germany - Sportdigital and DAZN
- Greece – Nova Sports
- Iceland –
- Indonesia –
- Israel – Sport1
- Kosovo – SuperSport
- Latvia –
- Liechtenstein - Teleclub and Sportdigital
- Lithuania –
- Luxembourg - SFR Sport and Sportdigital
- Macedonia – Sport Klub
- Montenegro – Sport Klub
- Netherlands – Ziggo Sport Totaal
- New Zealand –
- Norway –
- Poland –
- Republic of Ireland – BT Sport
- Russia – Telekanal Football
- Slovakia – Arena Sport
- Serbia – Sport Klub
- Slovenia – Sport Klub
- Spain – beIN Sports
- Sweden –
- Switzerland – Teleclub, Sportdigital and SFR Sport
- Turkey – TivibuSpor
- Ukraine –
- United Kingdom – BT Sport
- United States – GOLTV (in English and Spanish, only Benfica home matches) and Univision Deportes Network (in Spanish, except Benfica home matches)
- Caribbean – ESPN
- Indian Subcontinent –
- Latin America – ESPN and GOLTV (Benfica home matches)
- Lusophone Africa – RTP (one game a week on RTP África), Sport TV África
- Middle East and North Africa – Abu Dhabi Sports (Benfica home matches)
- Southeast Asia –
- Sub-Saharan Africa –
- Worldwide – RTP (one game a week on RTP Internacional)
Official match ball
- 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 / Adidas Conext15
- 2016–17: Nike Ordem
- Spanish La Liga
- German Bundesliga
- English Premier League
- Italian Serie A
- Portuguese Primeira Liga
- French Ligue 1
- Russian Premier League
- Dutch Eredivisie
- Ukrainian Premier League
- Belgian Pro League
- Turkish Süper Lig
- Superleague Greece
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.
Top ten goalscorers
|1||Fernando Peyroteo||1937–1950||Sporting CP||331 (1.68/game)|
|2||Eusébio||1960–1977||Benfica, Beira-Mar||319 (1.02/game)|
|3||Fernando Gomes||1974–1991||Porto, Sporting CP||318 (0.79/game)|
|4||José Águas||1950–1963||Benfica||290 (1.03/game)|
|6||Manuel Fernandes||1970–1988||CUF, Sporting CP, Vitória de Setúbal||243 (0.50/game)|
|7||Matateu||1951–1967||Belenenses, Atlético CP||218 (0.75/game)|
|8||José Torres||1959–1980||Benfica, Vitória de Setúbal, Estoril||217 (0.57/game)|
|9||Rui Jordão||1971–1989||Benfica, Sporting CP, Vitória de Setúbal||215 (0.60/game)|
|10||Arsénio Duarte||1943–1959||Benfica, CUF||211 (0.67/game)|
List of champions and top scorers
- (1) Porto saw six points subtracted in the Apito Dourado bribery allegations, reducing their 20-point lead (total 75 points) to 14. But on May 2011, the Central Administrative Court of the South of Portugal ruled that decision, taken in 2008 on a controversial meeting made by the Justice Council of the Portuguese Football Federation, as being "inexistent". The Portuguese Football Federation has announced it would appeal from this decision the Administrative Supreme Court.
Performance by club
|Club||Winners||Runners-up||Winning Years and Runner-Up Years|
|Benfica||35||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|
|Porto||27||25||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|
|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 ranking
- Last updated following the 2015–16 season
|1||Benfica||Lisbon||82||2296||1563||434||299||5123||5557||2038||3519||1935||2016||1st (35 titles)||Never relegated.|
|2||Porto||Porto||82||2296||1516||420||363||4959||5093||2070||3023||1935||2016||1st (27 titles)||Never relegated.|
|3||Sporting CP||Lisbon||82||2296||1414||484||398||4726||5040||2193||2847||1935||2016||1st (18 titles)||Never relegated.|
|4||Belenenses||Lisbon||75||2078||859||508||711||3082||3292||2654||638||1935||2016||1st (1 title)|
|5||Vitória de Guimarães||Braga||71||2086||804||500||782||2912||2942||2966||-24||1942||2016||3rd|
|7||Vitória de Setúbal||Setúbal||68||1936||662||463||811||2449||2672||2937||-265||1935||2016||2nd|
|8||Boavista||Porto||53||1602||620||401||581||2261||2135||2222||-87||1936||2016||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.|
|19||União de Leiria||Leiria||18||584||184||159||241||711||620||771||-151||1980||2012||5th|
|21||Paços de Ferreira||Porto||18||580||178||170||232||704||610||762||-152||1992||2016||3rd|
|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.|
|46||Académico de Viseu||Viseu||4||128||27||24||77||105||81||237||-156||1979||1989||13th|
|48||Santa Clara||Ponta Delgada||3||102||24||31||47||103||106||150||-44||2000||2003||14th|
|49||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.|
|57||Académico do Porto||Porto||5||82||18||6||58||60||137||300||-163||1935||1942||7th||Ended football team in 1964.|
|58||SL Elvas||Portalegre||2||48||17||3||28||54||108||167||-59||1946||1947||9th||Merged to form O Elvas in 1947.|
|60||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 won the Portuguese Liga 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. This season Benfica set the Portuguese league and European leagues record for most consecutive victories (23). 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.
- In 1977–78, Benfica completed the Portuguese Liga unbeaten for the second time (21 wins and 9 draws), despite finishing second.
- In 2010–11, Porto won the Portuguese Liga 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 Liga unbeaten for the second time (24 wins and 6 draws).
- In 2015–16, Benfica achieved a record 88 points in the Portuguese Liga (29 wins, 1 draw and 4 defeats in 34 games).
- LPFP Primeira Liga Player of the Year
- Portuguese Golden Ball
- SJPF Player of the Month
- SJPF Young Player of the Month
- CNID Footballer of the Year
- Bota de Prata
- List of sports attendance figures
- List of association football competitions in Portugal
- "BENFICA CAMPEÃO: todos os vencedores da Liga" [BENFICA CHAMPIONS: all the league winners] (in Portuguese). Maisfutebol. 17 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "UEFA Country Ranking 1990". Bert Kassies. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "Current Ranking – IFFHS". Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- Stadium Newspaper, 10 January 1940
- Tovar 2011, p. 191.
- Tovar, p. 136
- "Liga Portugal".
- "Liga Portugal".
- "Liga Nos mantém-se por três anos e meio".
- "Bola oficial da Liga Portugal" [Liga Portugal's official ball] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "UEFA Country Ranking 2014 – kassiesA – Xs4all". Retrieved 18 July 2014.
- "Painel de espectadores por clube". www.ligaportugal.pt. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
- 6 points deducted in 2007–08
- Official website (Portuguese)
- League at UEFA
- Official regulation (Portuguese)
- Official statistics (Portuguese)
- Portugal – List of Champions, RSSSF.com