|Organising body||Lebanese Football Association (LFA)|
|Number of teams||12|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Lebanese Second Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||Lebanese FA Cup|
Lebanese Super Cup
|League cup(s)||Lebanese Elite Cup|
Lebanese Challenge Cup
|International cup(s)||AFC Champions League|
|Current champions||Ansar (14th title) |
|Most championships||Ansar (14 titles)|
|Top goalscorer||Fadi Alloush (120)[a]|
|TV partners||MTV Lebanon, LFA YouTube channel (live matches)|
|Current: 2021–22 Lebanese Premier League|
The Lebanese First Division (Arabic: الدوري اللبناني الدرجة الأولى), commonly known as the Lebanese Premier League (Arabic: الدوري اللبناني الممتاز), is the top division of the Lebanese football league system. There are 12 teams competing in the league, which operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Lebanese Second Division.
The league's first season began in May 1934, with Nahda winning the first title. The most successful club in the league is Ansar, with 14 league titles; they set a Guinness World Record by winning 11 consecutive league titles between 1988 and 1999.[b] Seasons run from September to April with each team playing 22 games, playing all 11 other teams both home and away. Most games are played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
On 22 March 1933, representatives of 13 football clubs gathered in the Minet El Hosn district in Beirut to form the Lebanese Football Association (LFA). Hussein Sejaan was the LFA's first president. It joined FIFA in 1935 and the AFC in 1964. The Lebanese Premier League began on May 1934 as the Edmond Rubeiz Cup, in honour of Nahda player Edmon Rubeiz who died of typhoid the previous year. The competition was held in a knockout format, with Nahda beating DPHB 7–1 in the final to win the inaugural competition.
Nahda, AUB, and DPHB shared the titles during the first decade of the league. Between the 1940s and 1960s Armenian clubs, mainly Homenetmen and Homenmen, were the most prominent in the Lebanese footballing scene. The two clubs shared 11 titles in 16 seasons between 1943 and 1969. Following a 12-year interruption of the league due to the Lebanese Civil War, Ansar dominated the league winning 11 consecutive league titles between 1988 and 1999. They set a Guinness World Record for most consecutive league titles, which has been since broken by Skonto of Latvia in 2002.
From 2000, Nejmeh were the dominating force in Lebanon, winning five out of nine league titles until 2009. During the 2010s Ahed, who had only won one league title prior, won six league titles. After winning the 2018–19 Lebanese Premier League Ahed became the three-time defending champions, a feat accomplished only one other time, by Ansar in 1992. Due to financial and political issues in the country, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, the LFA decided to cancel the ongoing 2019–20 season. Due to the financial crisis, foreign players have been excluded from participating since the 2020–21 season.
There are 12 clubs in the Lebanese Premier League. During the course of a season each club plays the others twice (a double round-robin system), once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents', for 22 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss.
Teams are ranked by total points; in case two teams are par on points, the following rules for classification apply:
If more than two teams are par on points:
A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Lebanese Premier League and the Lebanese Second Division since 1935. In April 1935, Second Division clubs requested a promotion system to be implemented. It was proposed that, at the end of the season, every Second Division team that wanted to be promoted to the First Division had to play against three teams from the First Division, winning all three. The teams from the First Division had to have at least 7 players from their squad in the previous season.
The two lowest placed teams in the Lebanese Premier League are relegated to the Second Division, and the top two teams from the Second Division promoted to the Lebanese Premier League.
Main article: List of football clubs in Lebanon
|Ansar||14||1987–88, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2020–21|
|Nejmeh||8||1972–73, 1974–75, 1999–00, 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2008–09, 2013–14|
|Homenetmen||7||1943–44, 1945–46, 1947–48, 1950–51, 1954–55, 1962–63, 1968–69|
|Ahed||2007–08, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2014–15, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19|
|Nahda||5||1933–34, 1941–42, 1942–43, 1946–47, 1948–49|
|Homenmen||4||1944–45, 1953–54, 1956–57, 1960–61|
|AUB||3||1934–35, 1936–37, 1937–38|
|DPHB||1935–36, 1938–39, 1940–41|
|Racing Beirut||1955–56, 1964–65, 1969–70|
|Safa||2011–12, 2012–13, 2015–16|
The following 20 clubs competed in the Lebanese Premier League during the 2021–22 season.
|Club||Home city||Position in 2020–21||Top division titles||Most recent top division title|
|AC Sporting||Beirut (Ras Beirut)||1st in the Lebanese Second Division||0||N/A|
|Akhaa Ahli Aley||Aley||6th||0||N/A|
|Ansar||Beirut (Tariq el-Jdideh)||1st||14||2020–21|
|Bourj||Beirut (Bourj el-Barajneh)||7th||0||N/A|
|Nejmeh||Beirut (Ras Beirut)||2nd||8||2013–14|
|Safa||Beirut (Wata el-Museitbeh)||5th||3||2015–16|
|Sagesse||Beirut (Achrafieh)||2nd in the Lebanese Second Division||0||N/A|
|Shabab Bourj||Beirut (Bourj el-Barajneh)||8th||0||N/A|
|Shabab Sahel||Beirut (Haret Hreik)||3rd||0||N/A|
The Lebanese Premier League broadcasting rights were distributed to MTV Lebanon starting from the 2016–17 season, on a five-year contract worth $600,000 per season. Live coverage of three games is broadcast each week, and weekly highlights of each match are produced once a week. The Lebanese Football Association YouTube channel broadcasts the other three weekly games.
Main article: List of football stadiums in Lebanon
At the start of the 2005–06 season, the Lebanese government imposed a ban on spectators due to fears of political and sectarian-inspired violence in the stadiums. After six years, in 2011, the ban was lifted and fans were allowed to regularly attend matches. While attendance was initially scarce, spectators started to show up more regularly season after season. Indeed, in 2018 ultras groups started to form, with Nejmeh's "Ultras Supernova" being the first. Other teams quickly followed, such as Ansar, Ahed and Bourj.
Prior to the start of each season, every team chooses two stadiums as their home venues. In case both stadiums are unavailable for a certain matchday, another venue is used. While teams such as Nejmeh and Ahed have their own stadiums, respectively Rafic Hariri Stadium and Ahed Stadium, they prefer to use bigger stadiums in Lebanon such as the Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium and the Beirut Municipal Stadium.
Lebanese clubs are allowed to have three foreign players at their disposal at any time, as well as one extra Palestinian player born in Lebanon. Moreover, each club competing in an AFC competition is allowed to field one extra foreign player, to be only played in continental matches, as the AFC allows four foreign players to play in the starting eleven (one of whom from an AFC country). Starting from the 1998–99 season, the Lebanese Football Association has prevented the acquisition of foreign goalkeepers.
Players may only be transferred during transfer windows that are set by the Lebanese Football Association. The two transfer windows run from 1 July to 15 September and from 20 December to 19 January. Starting from the 2020–21 season, due to the economic situation in Lebanon, foreign players were barred from participating in the league.
Starting from the 2019–20 season, all teams in the Lebanese Premier League and Lebanese Second Division must involve a certain number of under-22 players in the both the league and the Lebanese FA Cup, with a minimum of 1,000 minutes for one player, a minimum of 1,500 aggregate minutes for two players and a minimum of 2,000 aggregate minutes for three players. In case a club were to not meet the required number of minutes at the end of the season, they would have three points deducted from their total in the league.
As the 2019–20 season was cancelled, the player quota was ultimately implemented for the 2020–21 season, with a few amendments. Each club must involve one player for at least 600 minutes, two players for at least 800 combined minutes, and three players for at least 1,200 combined minutes. Also, each club is allowed a maximum of eight players over the age of 30, with only five being able to be fielded in a game.
|2||Vardan Ghazaryan||1992–2002, 2003–2004, 2006–2009||117[c]|
|3||Abbas Ahmed Atwi||1997–2012, 2012–||113[d]|
Italics denotes players still playing football,
Bold denotes players still playing in the Lebanese Premier League.
The Golden Boot is awarded to the top Lebanese Premier League scorer at the end of each season. Fadi Alloush holds the record for most Lebanese Premier League goals with 120.[a] Seven players were top scorers more than once: Levon Altounian, Fadi Alloush, Mohammad Kassas, Mohammed Ghaddar, Lucas Galán, Elhadji Malick Tall and Hassan Maatouk have all been top scorers twice. Fadi Alloush holds the record for most goals in a season (32) while playing for Ansar.
On 30 July 2019, the Lebanese Football Association announced a three-year deal with German sportswear company Jako for €120,000, with the Jako Match 2.0 becoming the league's official match ball starting from the 2019–20 season.