A Lyga is the top division in a country where almost 5% percent of the population play football. It is a fairly young league who went through some changes in the last couple of years and is currently full of bright young talent.
The A Lyga is the top division in Lithuania also known as SMScredit.lt A Lyga for sponsoring purposes. It was founded in 1991 and organized by the Lithuanian Football Federation (a part of UEFA confederation) which joins 135,874 football players (15,774 registered players) and 65 clubs. There are ten (10) teams competing in the league this season, while there were 11 the season before. The champions of A Lyga qualify for the UEFA Champions League Second qualifying round while the runner up and the third placed team joins the UEFA Europa League First qualifying round, while those who finish last are directly relegated to the second tier division called “1 Lyga”.
SMScredit.lt A Lyga
Number of teams: 10
Level on the pyramid: 1
Domestic cup: Lithuanian LFF Cup
International cup: UEFA Champions League (2nd qualifying round)
Current champions: Žalgiris Vilnius
Average range of annual salaries: approx. $15,000
Transfer window: 1st February – 7th March and 23rd June – 23rd July
Season duration (2014): 8th March 2014 – 29th November 2014
Number of allowed foreign players per team (2014): 6 foreign players
Average stadium attendances: 905
Since the league’s founding FBK Kaunas have won the most league trophies with 8 in their cabinet. They are closely followed by FK Ekranas Panevėžys who have been crowned champions 7 times. Not a single Lithuanian team ever took part in main stages of the Champions’ League or the UEFA Cup.
Lithuania’s largest stadium (S. Darius and S. Girėnas stadium in Žaliakalnis borough of Kaunas) has 9.180 seats, while in general “A Lyga” stadiums have some 1500-4000 seats each.
Teams are allowed to sign players during the two transfer windows that last from 1st February to 7th March and from 23rd June to 23rd July. These also mark the break period since the league is held in summer (i.e. from spring to autumn) with a rest period in winter due to harsh weather. There are currently 65 foreign players playing in the A Lyga which accounts for a little more than 24% of players in the division. This season (2014) each team is allowed to have 6 foreign players in their match squad.
The most foreigners come from Russia (13), followed by Ukraine (7) and Italy (6).There are a lot of young players plying their trade in the top division, since the average age is a little over 23 years. 55% of players who transfered in the A Lyga this season came from abroad while the other 45% dealings was done between the domestic clubs. From players who left their respective clubs in A Lyga, 48% went to try their luck abroad.
Country population: 2,986 million
Average salary (€): 677.43 Euro (gross)
Tax rate: 21 %
National currency (value in € and $): Lithuanian litas, 1 LTL = €0.28962 = $0.38900
Average temperature, humidity and rainfall during season: 10°C, 76.5%, 760mm
Food: Pork, beef, barley, potatoes, rye, beets, dairy products
Most popular sports: basketball, football, athletics and cycling
Transport (domestic flights): 4 international airports / total 21,328.09 km of roads / 1,998 route km of railways