Europe’s Most Competitive Football Leagues

Europe's Most Competitive Football Leagues

Whilst few would argue with the fact that Europe provides some of the highest quality football in the world, and recruits many of the world’s finest players, European football leagues also have an unfortunate tendency to develop into monopolies, within which a mere handful of clubs tend to dominate their leagues for decades on end.

This tends to detract from the quality of European football, with the results of encounters between super powerful clubs and their league rivals often being foregone conclusions. This problem tends to be most pronounced in Europe’s high profile leagues, where hundreds of millions of dollars pour into the coffers of the top clubs every year.

Fortunately, the discerning fan, in search of exciting and competitive football leagues, does have some other options:

Serie A

Giacomo Tedesco of Catania and Mariano Bogliacino of Napoli in action during the Serie A match between Catania and Napoli at the Stadio Massimino on May 24, 2009 in Catania, Italy. (Photo by New Press/Getty Images)The high degree of competitiveness in the Serie A may be one reason why the Italian national team has achieved such impressive results in the past. Unlike many of Europe’s other high-profile leagues, where a handful of clubs have dominated proceedings for decades, claiming the Serie A title is a realistic prospect for any club in the league.

During the past decade alone five clubs have claimed the Serie A title, with Italian giants like AC Milan, Internazionale and Juventus having to fend off smaller clubs like Roma and Lazio. The number of Serie A winning clubs grows to seven if one looks back over the past two decades, and an impressive total of 13 different clubs have taken the league title in the past 50 years.

Ligue 1

Saint Etienne's forward Araujo Dall'Igna Ilan (R) fights for the ball with Auxerre's forward Kevin Lejeun (L) during their French L1 football match on May 23, 2009 in Auxerre. (JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)France’s highest level professional league is followed by fans in many parts of the globe. Some would dispute its selection on this list due to the recent domination of Lyon based Olympique Lyonnais, which has had a winning streak extending over several years.

However, prior to the rise of Olympique Marseilles, France was home to the most open competitive football league in Europe. In the decade stretching from 1992 to 2002, no less than 9 different clubs won the Ligue 1 titles, with only Nantes managing to claim more than one title during this period.

Danish Superligaen

Michael Silbebauer (R) of FC Copenhagen challenges FC Nordsjaelland's defender Kenni Olsen (C) 18 July 2007 at Farum Park north of Copenhagen. The Danish premier league tournament started today. (Lars Helsinghof/AFP/Getty Images)Football fans, who were shocked by Denmark’s victory at the Euro ’92 tournament after entering the tournament on a wildcard, need not have looked any further than the tiny nation’s football league for the source of their strength.

Denmark is home to one of Europe’s most competitive football leagues. Since the Danish Superligaen was created in 1991, 6 different clubs have claimed the league title. This figure is particularly impressive given the fact that only 10 clubs competed in the league until 1995, and the number of clubs in the league are currently set at only 12.

Football League of Ireland

Fans wave a Roy Keane flag during the friendly match between Shelbourne and Manchester United at Tolka Park, Dublin on July 20, 2002. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)The Emerald Isle might not be famous for the quality of its club football competitions, however, there’s no disputing the fact that Ireland is home to one of Europe’s most competitive and open club football leagues.

Whilst  a handful of clubs have claimed the lion’s share of Irish Football League titles in the last 20 years, a number of smaller clubs have consistently managed to upset the odds and to take league honours, with a total of 7 clubs winning the Football League of Ireland since 1992.

Swiss Super League

Basel, SWITZERLAND: FC Zurich's Alhassane Keita who scored the first goal, vies with Koji Kakata during the last day of the 2005-2006 Swiss Super League season, 13 May 2006, in Basel. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)The small Western European nation of Switzerland has been trying for decades to make its presence felt on the international stage. Whilst the Swiss are still some way off making their mark on either the European or the international stages, they can take solace in the fact that they host one of the most dynamic and competitive football leagues in Europe.

Since 1997 6 different clubs have claimed the Swiss Super League title, with the number increasing to 8 clubs if one reviews the past two decades. These figures are doubly impressive given the fact that Switzerland has one of the smallest football leagues in Europe, with only 10 clubs competing for the league title.

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