Iran

Iran

The Persian Gulf Pro League (Persian: لیگ برتر خلیج فارس‎) also known as Iran Pro League (IPL) (Persian: لیگ برتر فوتبال ایران‎), is a professional football league competition for clubs located at the highest level of the Iranian football league system. It was founded in 1970 as the Takht Jamshid Cup, but the current format was adopted in 2001. Contested by 16 teams, it is ranked by the Asian Football Confederation as the 2nd best league in Asia and the best league in Western Asia.

The Persian Gulf Pro League is the top tier of an extensive pyramid-like structure, above the Azadegan League (or 1st Division), the 2nd division, the 3rd Division and the lower local leagues. Since the creation of the league in 2001, six different teams have become league champions. Sepahan is the most successful club with five league trophies after winning the title in the recent season.

Before the 1970s Iran did not have an official national league and most teams competed in their local leagues, the most popular of those leagues being the Tehran Local League, which featured teams like Pas Tehran, Persepolis, and Taj.

In 1972, the Takht Jamshid Cup was created as the national league and included teams from all over the country. Pas Tehran and Persepolis were the most successful clubs in the cups five-year existence, winning the cup twice each. In 1978, the league was abandoned because of the Iranian Revolution.

Due to the revolution and the Iran–Iraq War, football was no longer a priority. In 1985, the Qods League was created and was played among provincial teams. Tehran A, and Esfahan were the most successful teams, winning the League twice each. In spite of the attempts to create a national league the most important competition in Iran in the 1980s was the Tehran Clubs Cup in which Persepolis dominated.

In 1991 the Qods League was renamed the Azadegan League in honor of Iranian prisoners of war. Pas Tehran won the inaugural edition of the league, and for the first time since the revolution, Iran had a national league. Pas Tehran, Persepolis, and Esteghlal were the league’s most successful sides, with Pas and Esteghlal winning the Asian Club Championships and Persepolis winning the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup. In 2001 the league dissolved with the introduction of the new Iran Pro League.