Sweden

225px-Allsvenskan.svg

Allsvenskan (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈalːˈsvɛnskan]; English: The All-Swedish, also known as Fotbollsallsvenskan, English: The Football All-Swedish) is a Swedish professional league for men’s association football clubs. It was founded in 1924, and is the top flight of the Swedish football league system, operating on a system of promotion and relegation with Superettan. Seasons run from late March or early April to beginning of November, with the 16 clubs all meeting each other twice, resulting in a 30-match season, for a total of 240 matches league-wide.

Allsvenskan is ranked 20th in the UEFA coefficients of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five years. As it stands now, Allsvenskan is ranked highest of the leagues in Scandinavia. The current champions are Malmö FF, who won the title in the 2014 season.

Including the 2014 season, Allsvenskan has been running for an unbroken streak of 89 seasons, which amongst national-level football leagues is one of the longest such streaks in Europe as well as in the world.

 

History

Allsvenskan started in the 1924–25 Allsvenskan season and the first winner was GAIS. The one-league twelve team Allsvenskan replaced the Svenska Serien, consisting of a southern and northern group that was held before. In 1931, the league started to decide the Swedish football champions.

In the early years, Norrland and Gotland teams were not allowed to play on higher levels in the league system, which was gradually changed to include the Norrland and Gotland teams on higher levels. In the 1955–56 season, Lycksele IF became the first Norrland team to play in an Allsvenskan promotion play-off, however they lost to GAIS.
For the 1959 Allsvenskan, the season start was changed from autumn to spring to be played in one calendar year. In 1973, it was expanded to contain 14 teams. In the 1970s, Malmö FF, under the lead of Spanish Antonio Durán and later English Bob Houghton, won five Allsvenskan and managed to proceed to the 1979 European Cup Final, which they lost to Nottingham Forest F.C..

From the 1982 season, the league introduced a play-off to determine the Swedish football champions. In the late 1980s, Malmö FF were dominant, winning the league five times in a row, but only two Swedish championships. The 1990 season saw the introduction of three points per win. The play-off season years were followed by two years of continuation league, named Mästerskapsserien.

The 1993 season saw a return to the classical format, again with 14 teams. IFK Göteborg won five Allsvenskan league titles in the 1990s.

In the early 2000s, Djurgårdens IF won three titles (2002, 2003 and 2005). In 2004, Örebro SK lost its place in the league due to financial problems, and Assyriska FF got their place. Since 2008, the league consists of 16 teams.

 

Status

The champions of the Allsvenskan are considered Swedish champions and gold medal winners. The runners-up are awarded the Large Silver medal, the third positioned team are awarded the Small Silver medal and the team positioned in fourth place are awarded the Bronze medal.

There have been seasons with exceptions when the winners of Allsvenskan wasn’t considered Swedish champions as well. Allsvenskan winners between 1924 and 1930 were crowned league champions and awarded gold medals, the title of Swedish champions was awarded to the winner of Svenska Mästerskapet up until 1925 and then not at all until 1930. The years 1982 through 1990 are also exceptions, the title was instead decided through play-offs during these years. The same was true for the years 1991 through 1992 when the title was decided through a continuation league called Mästerskapsserien.

Historically, there is though a big difference between the Allsvenskan winners before 1931 compared to the period between 1982 and 1992. As winning Allsvenskan in its earlier seasons was the optimal aim for the clubs, while as during the era of play-offs and Mästerskapsserien, the optimal goal wasn’t to win Allsvenskan, but the play-offs or Mästerskapsserien.

 

Competition format

Since 2008 there are 16 clubs in Allsvenskan. During the course of a season (starting in late March and ending in early November) each club plays the others twice (home and away) for a total of 30 games. The two lowest placed teams at the end of the season are relegated to Superettan and the top two teams from Superettan are promoted in their place. The third lowest team in Allsvenskan plays a relegation/promotion play-off against the third placed team in Superettan.

The winners of Allsvenskan qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the runner-up together with the third placed team in the table qualify for the UEFA Europa League as well as the team who wins the Svenska Cupen. In case the winner of the Cup has already qualified to Champions League or Europa League, the third Europa League spot is given to the team that finishes fourth in Allsvenskan.