Israeli Premier League

Israeli Premier League
The Israeli Premier League logo
Organising body Israel Football Association
Founded 1999 (1999)
Country Israel
Confederation UEFA
Number of teams 14 (from 2013–14)
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Liga Leumit
Domestic cup(s) Israel State Cup
Toto Cup (Al)
Israel Super Cup
International cup(s) UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
Current champions Hapoel Be'er Sheva
(5th title)
Most championships Maccabi Tel Aviv
(21 titles)
TV partners Charlton Sport,
2018–19 Israeli Premier League

The Israeli Premier League (Hebrew: ליגת העל, Ligat HaAl, lit. The Super League), commonly known as Ligat Japanika[1] (Hebrew: ליגת ג'פניקה) for sponsorship reasons with The Israeli food-chain japanika[2], is an Israeli professional league for association football clubs. It is the highest tier of the professional Israeli football league system. Administrated by the Israel Football Association (IFA), Ligat is contested by 14 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with Liga Leumit. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 32 matches each, totalling 224 matches in the season. Five games are played on Saturdays, with one game played on Sundays and one game on Mondays.

The competition formed on 1999 following the decision of the Israel Football Association to form a new league. It is also ranked eighteenth in the UEFA coefficients of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five years, ahead of the Cypriot First Division and Rominian's Liga I.[3]

Since 1923, a total of 14 clubs have been crowned champions of the Israeli football system. Of the twenty-seven clubs to have competed since the inception of the Israeli Premier League in 1999, seven have won the title: Beitar Jerusalem (twice), Hapoel Be'er Sheva (twice), Hapoel Tel Aviv (twice), Maccabi Haifa (seven times), Maccabi Tel Aviv (four times), and Ironi Kiryat Shmona (once). The current champions are Hapoel Be'er Sheva, who won the 2017–18 season.


The Israeli Premier League was created in 1999 to replace Liga Leumit (which became the second tier) when the Israel Football Association decided to reshuffle all the leagues in hopes of improving competition. In its first season there were 14 clubs; the top thirteen clubs from the 1998–99 season and the top place club from the Liga Artzit (then the second division). That season three clubs were relegated and one from Liga Leumit was promoted. Over the years the league has changed names though the new names were simply commercial rebranding, including Ligat Pelephone, Ligat Toto and Ligat Winner.


There are 14 clubs in the league. At the end of each season, the two lowest-placed teams are relegated to Liga Leumit while two highest-placed teams of Liga Leumit are promoted in their place. For the 2012–13 season the league was decreased from 16 to 14 clubs as a result of reforms passed by the IFA on 27 June 2011.[4]

The participating clubs first play a conventional round-robin schedule for a total of 26 matches.

Following this, the top six teams play in a championship playoff, where they meet each other twice. Upon its conclusion, the first place team wins the Israeli championship and qualifies to participate in the first qualifying round of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League. The runners-up and the third-placed teams qualify for the first qualifying round of the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League.

In Addition, the Israeli State Cup winners qualify for the second qualifying round of the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League. If the State Cup winners are also one of the teams to finish in the league's top three places then the fourth-placed team will also play in Europa League. In case the State Cup winners also win the Israeli Premier League then the fourth-placed league team will play in first qualifying round.

In addition, the bottom eight teams will play each other once to avoid two relegation spots.


A total of 28 clubs have played in the Israeli Premier League from its inception in 1999 and the start of the 2011–12 season. For a list of winners and runners-up of the Israeli Premier League since its inception, and top scorers for each season, see List of Israeli football champions.

Three clubs have been members of the Israeli Premier League for every season since its inception. This group is composed of Beitar Jerusalem, Maccabi Haifa, and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Members for 2018–19

The following 14 clubs will compete in the Israeli Premier League during the 2017–18 season.

in 2017–18
First season in
the Israeli Premier League
Number of seasons
in the Israeli Premier League
First season of
current spell in
Israeli Premier League
Top division
Last top division title
Beitar Jerusalemab 3rd 1999–2000 20th 1999–2000 6 2007-2008
Bnei Sakhnin 11th 2003-2004 15th 2007–2008 0 Never
Bnei Yehudab 6th 1999–2000 18th 2015–2016 1 1989–1990
F.C. Ashdod 12th 2009–2010 7rd 2013–2014 0 Never
Hapoel Be'er Sheva 1st 2001–2002 14th 2009–2010 5 2017–2018
Hapoel Haifab 4th 1999–2000 14th 2009–2010 1 1998–1999
Hapoel Hadera 2nd
Liga Leumit
2018–2019 1st 2018–2019 0 Never
Ironi Kiryat Shmona 11th 2003-2004 11th 2007-2008 1 2011-2012
Hapoel Ra'anana 10th 2009–2010 7rd 2013–2014 0 Never
Hapoel Tel Avivb 1st
Liga Leumit
1999–2000 19th 2018–2019 14 2009–2010
Maccabi Haifaab 10th 1999–2000 20th 1999–2000 12 2010–2011
Maccabi Netanya 11th 2003-2004 17th 2014-2015 5 1982-1983
Maccabi Petah Tikva 11th 2003-2004 19th 2013-2014 0 Never
Maccabi Tel Avivab 2nd 1999–2000 20th 1999–2000 21 2014–2015

a: Never been relegated from the Israeli Premier League
b: One of the original Israeli Premier League teams


In recent years, the league has been sponsored. The sponsor has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. The list below details who the sponsors have been and what they called the competition:

  • 2002–2004: Pelephone – a mobile phone company (Ligat Pelephone)
  • 2005–2010: Toto Winner Organization – the Israeli Sports Betting Board (Ligat Toto)
  • 2010–2018: Toto Winner Organization – the Israeli Sports Betting Board (Ligat Winner)
  • 2018-present: Ligat Japanika - Asian restaurant (Ligat Japanika)

Number of foreigners

Teams are limited to six foreign players per team. Special circumstances such as Druze players from the Golan (no citizenship) or cases such as that of Toto Tamuz, do not count against the foreign player limit. In addition, players who play in the league for 6 consecutive years do not count against the foreign player limit.

Broadcast Rights


Israeli Premier League games are broadcast live on Sport 1, Sport 1 HD, and Sport 2 channels, with the big match of the week which is reserved to be shown by Sport 5 and Channel 1 HD network television. There is also a league review show on Saturday nights at Sport 5 channel.

Abroad, rights to broadcasting in Hebrew are owned by The Israeli Network which broadcasts the matches in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Panama, Costa Rica and in Europe.

In the United Kingdom, William Hill broadcasts matches live with English commentary on their online television service, William Hill TV.


The rights of broadcasting on the radio belongs to Radio Tel Aviv since 2011, which broadcast alongside Radio Haifa, Radio Darom, Radio Galei Zahal and Radio Darom 101.5 in a show called Saturday of Football which also broadcasts live on ONE TV channel.


The big match of the week is shown on the Channel 1 website. Since 2010, games summaries are shown online by Ynet, ONE and Sport 5.


Since 2012, ONE owns the broadcasting rights, which was previously owned by Sport 5.


Main sources of revenue for the clubs:

  • Television
  • Ticket sales
  • Merchandise
  • Toto Winner – The Israeli Sports Betting Council
  • Sponsorship

UEFA league ranking

In European Leagues:

Source: UEFA Coefficients Graphs, 2019 UEFA Country Ranking

List of champions

For the complete list read the main article.

Israeli Premier League (1999–present)

When the Israeli Premier League became the top division of Israeli football in 1999–2000, Liga Leumit became the second division. Since then, only six clubs have won the title; Hapoel Tel Aviv, Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Be'er Sheva. Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem are sometimes referred to as the "Big Four" of Israeli football.[5]

Having won seven titles in the league's 17 seasons, the most successful club during this period is Maccabi Haifa; during the same period Maccabi Tel Aviv have added four to their total while Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv have won two championships each. Although Hapoel Tel Aviv have only finished top of the league twice since 1999—in 1999–2000 and ten years later in 2009–10—they have won the double on both occasions.

This achievement was matched by Beitar Jerusalem in 2007–08. Ironi Kiryat Shmona won their first championship during the 2011–12 season, thereby becoming the first northern title-winners. Maccabi Tel Aviv then won three titles in a row, including a Treble in 2014–15.

Champions also won the Israel State Cup during the same season.
Champions also won the League Cup during the same season.
Champions also won both cups during the same season.
(titles) A running tally of the total number of championships won by each club is kept in brackets.
Season Winner (titles) Runners-up Third place Top Scorer Goals Notes
1999–2000 Hapoel Tel Aviv (12) Maccabi Haifa Hapoel Petah Tikva Assi Tubi (Maccabi Petah Tikva) 27
2000–01 Maccabi Haifa (6) Hapoel Tel Aviv Hapoel Haifa Avi Nimni (Maccabi Tel Aviv) 25 [nb 1]
2001–02 Maccabi Haifa (7) Hapoel Tel Aviv Maccabi Tel Aviv Kobi Refua (Maccabi Petah Tikva) 18
2002–03 Maccabi Tel Aviv (18) Maccabi Haifa Hapoel Tel Aviv Yaniv Abargil (Hapoel Kfar Saba)
Shay Holtzman (Ironi Rishon LeZion / Ashdod)
2003–04 Maccabi Haifa (8) Maccabi Tel Aviv Maccabi Petah Tikva Ofir Haim (Hapoel Be'er Sheva)
Shay Holtzman (F.C. Ashdod)
2004–05 Maccabi Haifa (9) Maccabi Petah Tikva F.C. Ashdod Roberto Colautti (Maccabi Haifa) 19
2005–06 Maccabi Haifa (10) Hapoel Tel Aviv Beitar Jerusalem Shay Holtzman (F.C. Ashdod) 18
2006–07 Beitar Jerusalem (5) Maccabi Netanya Maccabi Tel Aviv Yaniv Azran (F.C. Ashdod) 15
2007–08 Beitar Jerusalem (6) Maccabi Netanya Ironi Kiryat Shmona Samuel Yeboah (Hapoel Kfar Saba) 15
2008–09 Maccabi Haifa (11) Hapoel Tel Aviv Beitar Jerusalem Barak Yitzhaki (Beitar Jerusalem)
Shimon Abuhatzira (Hapoel Petah Tikva)
Eliran Atar (Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv)
2009–10 Hapoel Tel Aviv (13) Maccabi Haifa Maccabi Tel Aviv Shlomi Arbeitman (Maccabi Haifa) 28
2010–11 Maccabi Haifa (12) Hapoel Tel Aviv Maccabi Tel Aviv Toto Tamuz (Hapoel Tel Aviv) 21
2011–12 Ironi Kiryat Shmona (1) Hapoel Tel Aviv Bnei Yehuda Achmad Saba'a (Maccabi Netanya) 20
2012–13 Maccabi Tel Aviv (19) Maccabi Haifa Hapoel Tel Aviv Eliran Atar (Maccabi Tel Aviv) 22
2013–14 Maccabi Tel Aviv (20) Hapoel Be'er Sheva Ironi Kiryat Shmona Eran Zahavi (Maccabi Tel Aviv) 29
2014–15 Maccabi Tel Aviv (21) Ironi Kiryat Shmona Hapoel Be'er Sheva Eran Zahavi (Maccabi Tel Aviv) 27
2015–16 Hapoel Be'er Sheva (3) Maccabi Tel Aviv Beitar Jerusalem Eran Zahavi (Maccabi Tel Aviv) 35
2016–17 Hapoel Be'er Sheva (4) Maccabi Tel Aviv Beitar Jerusalem Viðar Örn Kjartansson (Maccabi Tel Aviv) 19
2017–18 Hapoel Be'er Sheva (5) Maccabi Tel Aviv Beitar Jerusalem Dia Saba (Maccabi Netanya) 24

"Big Four" dominance

"Big Four" since the start of the Israeli Premier League[8]

Since the past few seasons, the Big Four Dominance has been challenged by 3 successive championships for Hapoel Be'er Sheva.

Top scorers by season

1999–2000 Assi Tubi 27 Maccabi Petah Tikva
2000–01 Avi Nimni 25 Maccabi Tel Aviv
2001–02 Kobi Refua 18 Maccabi Petah Tikva
2002–03 Yaniv Abargil 18 Hapoel Kfar Saba
Shay Holtzman 18 Ironi Rishon LeZion / FC Ashdod
2003–04 Ofir Haim 16 Hapoel Be'er Sheva
Shay Holtzman 16 FC Ashdod
2004–05 Roberto Colautti 19 Maccabi Haifa
2005–06 Shay Holtzman 18 FC Ashdod
2006–07 Yaniv Azran 15 FC Ashdod
2007–08 Samuel Yeboah 15 Hapoel Kfar Saba
2008–09 Barak Yitzhaki 14 Beitar Jerusalem
Shimon Abuhatzira 14 Hapoel Petah Tikva
Eliran Atar 14 Bnei Yehuda
2009–10 Shlomi Arbeitman 28 Maccabi Haifa
2010–11 Toto Tamuz 21 Hapoel Tel Aviv
2011–12 Ahmad Saba'a 20 Maccabi Netanya
2012–13 Eliran Atar 22 Maccabi Tel Aviv
2013–14 Eran Zahavi 29 Maccabi Tel Aviv
2014–15 Eran Zahavi 27 Maccabi Tel Aviv
2015–16 Eran Zahavi 35 Maccabi Tel Aviv
2016–17 Viðar Örn Kjartansson 19 Maccabi Tel Aviv
2017–18 Dia Saba 24 Maccabi Netanya

All-time table

The All-time Israeli Premier League table is a cumulative record of all match results, points and goals of every team that has played in the Israeli Premier League since its inception in 1999. The table that follows is accurate as of the end of the 2016–17 season. Teams in green are part of the 2017–18 Israeli Premier League. Numbers in bold are the record (highest) numbers in each column.

Pos. Club S Pld W D L GF GFPG GA GAPG GD Pts R Avg. Pts
1Maccabi Haifa 1966135015715410881.6466300.95345812077463.53
2Maccabi Tel Aviv 1966433815916710481.5785990.9524161173[nb 2]44461.74
3Hapoel Tel Aviv 186192941711549401.5196140.9923261039[nb 3]262157.72
4Beitar Jerusalem 196582741742109011.3697731.175128996[nb 4]2552.42
5Maccabi Petah Tikva 186152211742207171.1667301.254–13837[nb 5]11146.5
6Bnei Yehuda 175861981582306571.1217511.282–947521244.24
7F.C. Ashdod 186131901702537161.1688571.398–1417401141.11
8Hapoel Be'er Sheva 134482081091316721.55211.163151733211156.38
9Maccabi Netanya 165481881542066911.2617401.375–497182344.88
10Bnei Sakhnin 144771501401974971.0426141.189–117580[nb 6]141.43
11Hapoel Haifa 134491751311755231.1655741.278–515601343.08
12Hapoel Petah Tikva 134481351151985481.2236781.513–130508[nb 7]1339.08
13Ironi Kiryat Shmona 10345137981104441.2873861.11958509112150.9
14Hapoel Ironi Acre 827072811102881.0673891.441–101295[nb 8]236.88
15Hapoel Kfar Saba 7237567610523713491.473–112241[nb 9]448.2
16Hapoel Ra'anana 62035655921951.1472671.571–72223137.17
17Hapoel Rishon LeZion 51804141981951.0833161.756–121164232.8
18Hapoel Nir Ramat HaSharon 3106322351970.91541.5–57119139.67
19Maccabi Herzliya 31052524561131.0761801.714–6799233
20Hapoel Ramat Gan 3103192955950.9221611.563–6682[nb 10]227.33
24Hapoel Ashkelon 3101202556800.7921591.574–7985228.33
21Hapoel Nazareth Illit 266202026711.076931.409–2280140
22Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan 266122133580.8791001.515–4257228.5
23Maccabi Ahi Nazareth 268151340731.0741432.103–7055[nb 11]227.5
25Maccabi Kiryat Gat 1337620341.03581.758–2427127
26Hapoel Jerusalem 1396627330.846822.103–4924124
27Hapoel Tzafririm Holon 1384430250.658852.237–6016116
28Hapoel Hadera
[nb 12]
[nb 13]

League or status at 2017–18:

2018–19 Israeli Premier League
2018–19 Liga Leumit
2018–19 Liga Alef
2018–19 Liga Bet
2018–19 Liga Gimel
Clubs that no longer exist

Player records

Top scorers

As of matches played 29 April 2018
Rank Nat Name Club Years Goals Apps Ratio
1 Alon Mizrahi Bnei Yehuda, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Ironi Ashdod, Beitar Jerusalem, Hapoel Kfar Saba, Ahi Nazareth, Hapoel Be'er Sheva 1989–20052064040.51
2 Oded Machnes Maccabi Netanya, Maccabi Petah Tikva, Maccabi Tel Aviv 1974–19901963850.51
3 Avi Nimni Maccabi Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem 1989–20081944290.45
4 Moshe Romano Shimshon Tel Aviv, Beitar Tel Aviv 1965–19821924020.48
5 Shay Holtzman Maccabi Netanya, Maccabi Haifa, Tzafririm Holon, Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Beitar Jerusalem, Hapoel Haifa, Maccabi Petah Tikva, Hapoel Rishon LeZion, F.C. Ashdod 1990–20091694740.36
6 Mordechai Spiegler Maccabi Netanya, Hapoel Haifa 1963–19811683620.63
7 Uri Malmilian Beitar Jerusalem, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Hapoel Kfar Saba 1973–19931594800.33
8 David Lavi Maccabi Netanya, Beitar Tel Aviv 1973–19881583600.44
9 Nahum Stelmach Hapoel Petah Tikva, Bnei Yehuda 1952–19701553670.42
10 Yehoshua Feigenbaum Hapoel Tel Aviv, Shimshon Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem, Hapoel Ramat Gan, Hapoel Haifa 1964–19831484300.34

Most appearances

Rank Nat Name Years Apps Goals
1 Arik Benado 1991–201157312
2 Rafi Cohen 1988–20105460
3 Walid Badir 1992–201353171
4 Alon Harazi 1990–200952634
5 Gidi Damti 1968–1989519143
6 Liran Strauber 1992–20125130
7 Shlomo Iluz 1978–19965090
8 Menachem Bello 1964–19824981
9 Yigal Antebi 1993–201449414
10 Alon Hazan 1984–200448366


  1. Maccabi Haifa's final match of the 2000–01 season, at home against Maccabi Tel Aviv, was abandoned after 82 minutes with Maccabi Haifa 3–2 ahead when supporters attempted to invade the pitch, resulting in a crush which injured 41 people. Maccabi Tel Aviv were awarded a 2–0 victory.[6][7]
  2. Maccabi Tel Aviv were deducted 7 points and had 0-0 tie without points
  3. Hapoel Tel Aviv were deducted 13 points and had 0-0 tie without points
  4. Beitar Jerusalem were deducted 9 points
  5. Maccabi Petah Tikva were deducted 3 points
  6. Bnei Sakhnin were deducted 2 points
  7. Hapoel Petah Tikva were deducted 12 points
  8. Hapoel Ironi Acre were deducted 2 points
  9. Hapoel Kfar Saba were deducted 3 points
  10. Hapoel Ramat Gan were deducted 4 points
  11. Maccabi Ahi Nazareth were deducted 3 points
  12. 2210 games ended up with a draw, resulting up with 4,420 points
  13. 58 points were deducted over the years


  2. "Israeli Premier League will now be known as "Ligat Winner"" (in Hebrew). . ONE. 1 July 2010. Archived from the original on 5 July 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2010.
  3. "UEFA ranking of European leagues". UEFA. 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  4. "This season will have no halving of points" (in Hebrew). . ONE. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  5. Sinai, Allon (2011-07-20). "Local Soccer: Season schedule released". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
  6. Bleicher, Yaniv (2001-09-13). "Israel 2000/01". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  7. Adar, Shaul (October 2010). "Walid objection". When Saturday Comes. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  8. Israel Football Association
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