Allsvenskan (The All-Swedish) is the top football division in Sweden, founded in 1924.
Due to winter weather, the season runs from late March (or early April) to the beginning of November. Because of that, we are not talking about the winner of the season 2015/16 but the winner of the season 2015.
Since 2008 there are 16 clubs in Allsvenskan and every club plays each other twice, resulting in 30 rounds season. The winner is a club who collects the most points throughout 30 rounds. The two lowest placed teams at the end of the season are relegated to Superettan (Swedish second division) 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 Swedish premier league qualify for the UEFA Champions League (Second qualifying round), the runner-up together with the third placed team in the table qualify for the UEFA Europa League (First qualifying round) as well as the team who wins the Swedish Cup (Svenska Cupen). In case the winner of the Cup has already qualified for Champions League or Europa League, the third Europa League spot is given to the team that finishes fourth in Allsvenskan.
Number of teams: 16
Level on the pyramid: 1
Domestic cup: Swedish Cup
International Cup: UEFA Champions League (2nd qualifying round), UEFA Europa League (1st qualifying round)
Current champions: Norrköping
Uefa Ranking: 20
Transfer window: 8th January – 31st March and 15th July – 11th August
Number of players: 379
Foreign players: 119
Allsvenskan has one of the longest streaks among national-level football leagues in the World. Including the 2015 season, it has been running for an unbroken streak of 90 seasons.
Allsvenskan started in 1924/25 with 12 clubs competing for the first championship when the winner was GAIS. Allsvenskan replaced the Svenska Serien, consisting of a southern and northern group. 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.
In 1959, there was a major change in the competition format. It changed from autumn to spring to be played in one calendar year.
By far the best team in the history of Swedish football is Malmö, who won 21 titles throughout the years. Malmö was one of the Europe best clubs in the 1970s when it was operating under the lead of Antonio Duran and later Bob Houghton. They won five championships and managed to proceed to the European Cup Final in 1979 in which they lost to Nottingham Forrest (1:0 in Olympiastadion in Munich).
From 1982 to 1993 the Allsvenskan introduced a play-off to determine the Swedish champion. From 1990 season the rules changed and Sweden premier league introduced three points per win.
Throughout the history, a total of 63 clubs played in Swedish premier league. Not one club has been a member of the league for every season since its start. The club with most seasons in Swedish premier league is AIK (who participated in 87 seasons of 91). Malmö has the record of most consecutive seasons, 63 between 1936–37 and 1999. Göteborg is currently the club with the longest running streak, starting their 40th season in 2016.
The third team gets smaller silver medals
Swedish premier league has some interesting methods of awarding the best teams. The winner is of course considered Swedish champions and gets the Lennart Johansson Pokal, a trophy named after the former UEFA Chairman. The winners also get gold medals for their achievements. The runners-up get the large silver medals and the third team gets smaller silver medals. The fourth best team gets the bronze medals.
As we mentioned, the Allsvenskan begins in March, which means it is in the final third of the 2016 season. And this season is as exciting as the last. Last year, Norrköping finished first with 3 points advantage over Göteborg and 5 points advantage over AIK. The title for Norrköping was a big surprise, but an even bigger surprise was the ranking of Malmö, who finished fifth.
Malmö is by far the most successful club in the history of Sweden football. They won the league title four times in this century and played two times in a row in UEFA Champions League (2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons). They have the best and the most expensive squad in the league.
This year Malmö is playing better football than the last and after 20 rounds are in the first place with 45 points. The reigning champions Norrköping is second with 44 so it seems there will be a dead race until the end.
The best in Scandinavia
As mentioned, Allsvenskan ranks 20th in the UEFA coefficient of leagues which means it is the most rated league in Scandinavia. Football played in Allsvenskan is similar as football played in Denmark or Norway. Teams are playing with much pace, good rhythm, a lot of running and a lot of physical duels. There are not a lot of technically gifted players playing in Allsvenskan, but the few that are, are usually the best and the highest paid players in the club.
In Swedish premier league, there are a lot of foreign players – 31.2%. The most are coming from countries nearby: Norway (17), Denmark (11), Iceland (10), Finland (7). There are also a lot of African players, 12 from Ghana and 7 from Nigeria.
Swedish premier league is also known as a hatchery for football talents, the most famous of all is, of course, Zlatan Ibrahimović. Throughout the history, a lot of fantastic players came from Allsvenskan, such as Gunnar Nordahl, Nils Liedholm, Gunnar Gren, Thomas Ravelli, Tomas Brolin, Henrik Larsson, Kennet Andersson, Olof Mellberg.
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