Virsliga – Latvia (League Review)

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The Virsliga is the highest division in Latvia also known as the SMScredit.lv Virsliga for sponsoring purposes. It was founded in 1927 and is organized by the Latvian Fotball Federation which is a part of the UEFA confederation.

 

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Eight teams will compete in the league in 2015, each team plays others four times – twice at home and twice away, a total of 28 game weeks. Usually, there are 10 teams but two weren’t able to acquire a licence to participate in the 2015 edition of Virsliga (Daugava Riga, Daugava Daugavpils). Champions are awarded with the UEFA Champions League qualifiers while the second and third placed go into UEFA Europa League qualifiers. Fourth placed team can also qualify for the UEFA Europa League qualifiers but it depends on the outcome of the domestic cup – if a team placed above them wins in the cup, they go into the qualifiers. Team who finishes last in the league is automatically relegated to the Latvian second division – 1. Liga, while second to last enters Play-offs 1/2 with the second placed team from 1. Liga team for one place in Virsliga.


SMScredit.lv Virsliga

Country: Latvia
Confederation: UEFA
Founded: 1927
Number of teams: 8
Level on the pyramid: 1
Domestic cup: Latvian Cup
International cup: UEFA Champions League (2nd qualifying round)
Current champions: FK Ventspils
Transfer window: 6th January – 6th March and 19th June – 17th July
Season duration: March – November
Number of allowed foreign players per team: 5 foreign players per matchday
Average stadium attendances: 2571


Teams

BFC Daugavpils
FB Gulbene
FK Jelgava
FK Liepāja
FS Metta/LU
Skonto FC
FK Spartaks Jūrmala
FK Ventspils


24 teams have won the league since its inception and the current champions are FK Ventspils who’ve won it twice in the row and 6 times in total. Club with the most titles is Skonto Riga with 15, followed by ASK Riga with 11 and Sarkanais Metalurgs Liepāja with 9 championship titles.

The season starts mid-March and ends in late November. Clubs are able to sign players in two transfer windows, winter transfer window starts on January 6th and ends on March 6th while the summer one lasts from June 19th to July 17th. There is no limit on registration of foreign players per team but only 5 foreign players are allowed per team on matchday. Recently the league introduced new rules where every team that wants to be a part of the Virsliga will have to have their own academy and second teams. These teams will compete in their own league and only up to four players older than 21 will be eligible to play per team. This implementation of an additional league is meant to help with the structure of local clubs, improve their player development and offer game time to young players.

Most transfer dealing happen between the clubs in Virsliga, as 38 players have exchanged their club with a new one from Virsliga. Incoming transfers are mostly from the Latvian second division (9) and Lithuanian top division (8). Most often players transfer from Virsliga to Latvian second division (26) and to Lithuanian top division (10).

 

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