Liga I is the name of the top division of the Romanian football league system. It was established in 1909 and commenced play for the 1909-10 campaign. Until 1932 it had various play-off types. Liga I is part of Romanian Professional Footbal League (LPF). Before the 2006/2007 season, it was called Divizia A, but the name had to be changed following the discovery that someone else had registered the trade mark "Divizia A". It was reported that during the season 2006-'07 1,657,602 tickets were sold for the 306 games played, giving an average attendance of 5,417 spectators per match.
The first football club's organization formula was "A Divisional College" ("Colegiul Divizionar A") founded on October 5, 1970 and led by Mircea Angelescu. Until 1990, the "A Divisional College" was formal without remarkable decisions. During the 90's a lot of changes were implemented, reflected in the new names of the organization, e.g. "A Divisional Team's League", " National Football League", "Professional Club's League", etc. On October 10, 1992, the organization's name became "Professional Football A Division League", led by Mircea Angelescu - president, Dumitru Dragomir - vice-president and Daniel Lăzărescu - general secretary. On 22 January 1993, the name of the organization became "Professional Football League of Romania", an A-Division professional football clubs representation. On October 13, 1993, the B Division clubs members were included. On September 30, 1996, Dumitru Dragomir has been elected president of the "Professional Football League of Romania". The headquarters is located on 47 Mihai Eminescu Street (since February 1997). In December the same year it was decided that the league will organize the A-Division Championship starting with 1997-1998 edition.
In October 2000, Dumitru Dragomir has been re-elected president of the "Professional Football League of Romania". There are currently 18 teams at this level, of which the bottom four are relegated at the season's end. These teams are replaced by the champions of the two divisions that make up Liga 2, the second level of the Romanian football league system.
Starting in 2005-06, the champions and runners-up of Divizia A are eligible to compete in the UEFA Champions League during the following season. The 3rd-placed team is eligible to compete in the UEFA Cup. The most successful teams over the years have been Steaua Bucureşti and Dinamo Bucureşti, other notable teams being: Universitatea Craiova, Rapid Bucureşti, and UTA. Universitatea Craiova was the last non-Bucharest team to win the championship (in 1990-91) until the amazing performance of the small team of CFR Cluj last season. The title also gave them direct access to the Champions League Group Stages where they met Chelsea, Bordeaux and AS Roma. Steaua Bucharest also made it through qualifying and took their place in a group featuring Bayern Munich, Lyon and Fiorentina.
List of Champions since 1990 - The Liga 1 Gamebookers.com
The 2008/09 season saw Dinamo and Unirea storm to the top of the league at the halfway point, with last season's champions CFR Cluj and Steaua Bucharest having to fight it out for the remaining UEFA Cup spots. Cluj's first Champions League campaign started amazingly with a 2-1 win in Rome and a 0-0 draw with Chelsea but after this they did not get another point. In the Romanian Cup the only surprise so far was the 2-0 defeat of Steaua by part timers Sportul Studentesc from the Bucharest suburbs. Under the astute management of Dan Petrescu Unirea won the title by three points from Timosoara, with the Bucharest clubs nowhere to be seen. In fact Steaua's seventh place finish was their worst for decades.
For a more detailed overview on who plays where in Romania, go to Footiemap.com for a graphical view of the country's clubs.
The following stadiums are used in the Liga 1 Gamebookers.com:-
FC Arges Pitesti - Stadionul Nicolae Dobrin - Capacity 15,170. Promoted at the end of the 2007/08 season. One of the famous clubs from the 1970's and 1980's who actually won the championship in 1972 and 1979. Adrian Mutu once played for the club based in the town of Pitesti, located in the south of the country close to Bucharest. They were relegated at the end of the 2008/09 season after it was found that their owner, Cornel Oenescu had been found guilty of corruption.
FC Brasov - Stadionul Silviu Ploiesteanu although officially it is called Stadionul Tineretului which means Stadium of Youth - Capacity 12,670. Promted at the end of the 2007/08 season after a three season absence from the top division. They hail from the city of Brasov, the 7th largest city of Romania.
CFR Cluj - Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadion - Capacity 14,000. Champions in 2007/08, overcoming all of the odds to finish top of the pile. They have had a remarkable recent history, having played in the third tier for most of their history. They come from Cluj-Napoca in the north of the country.
FC Univsitatea Craiova - Stadion Ion Oblemenco - Capacity 27,915. After a disappointing 9th place finish last season Craiova will be hoping to break into the top six again. They actually reached the 1984 UEFA Cup semi-finals. Craiova is located in the south west of the country and one of the biggest university cities.
FC Dinamo Bucharest - Dinamo Stadium - Capacity 15,300. 4th place last season was a disappointing return for the club despite some serious investment in the team. More details on the club can be found here.
FC Farul Constanta - Farul Stadion - Capacity 15,320. Stayed up against all of the odds last season. Their best place finish in the league was 4th place in 1967, although a 5th place finish in 2005 saw them enter the Intertoto Cup for the one and only time. Constanta is one of the biggest ports in Europe, and is located on the Black Sea coast of Romania. The club were relegated at the end of the 2008/09 season.
FC Gaz Metan Medias - Stadionul Municipal Gaz Metan - Capacity 5,000. One of the smallest clubs to play in the top flight of Romanian football. They are favourites for relegation for the 2008/09 season after promotion in 2007/08 as runners up of league 2. Medias is located in the heart of Romania, and is the biggest city in the province of Transylvania.
FC Gloria Bistrita - Stadionul Gloria - Capacity 8,100. A mid table finish last season was a good return for this club from Bistrit located in the north of the country in the Transylvania region. They have been a regular in the Intertoto Cup since it commenced in the 1990's.
FC Gloria Buzau - Stadionul Gloria (called Crang unofficially) - Capacity 20,000. A 14th place finish last season saw them avoid relegation, just. They were only formed in 1971and have spent most of their history in the lower leagues. Buzau is located in the east of the country and is one of the oldest settlements in Romania. The club were relegated at the end of the 2008/09 season.
CS Otopeni - Stadionul Otopeni- Capacity 1,200. After finishing in 2nd place in Liga 2 last season they made it through the play offs and became the smallest team to play in the top division. The club were only formed in 2001 so the rise through the divisions has been remarkable. Otopeni is located on the eastern outskirts of Bucharest. The club were relegated at the end of the 2008/09 season.
FC Otelul Galati - Otelul Stadium - Capacity 13, 932. A 5th place finish in 2007 was followed by 8th pace last season - a good return for a small club who did not reach the top league until 1986. They have the honour of once beating Juventus in the UEFA Cup. Galati is located in the north east of the country close to the border with Moldovia.
Pandurii Targu Jiu - Tudor Vladimierescu Stadionul - Capacity 9,200. 12th place last season was on par with expectations. The town of Targu Jiu is located in the heart of Romania and is well known for its coal mining.
FC Politenhnica Iasi - Emil Alexandrescu - Capacity 12,500. An 11th place finish last season was amazing considering the huge financial problems they experienced which at times made fielding a team difficult. They hail from the 2nd largest city in Romania, Iasi, which is on the border of Moldova.
FC Rapid Bucharest - Stadionul Valetinin Stanescu - Capacity 19,100. One of the most successful clubs in Romaian football, and also one of the richest. They have been national champions on four occasions, the last time in 2003. For more details on the club click here.
FC Steaua Bucharest - Stadionul Steaua in the Ghencea district of the city - Capacity 28,000. Romania's most successful club, and the only team from the country to have won the European Cup. For more details on the club click here.
FC Timosoara - Dan Paitinisanu Stadionul - Capacity 32,109. 6th Place last season from the club from one of the biggest cities, located in the west of the country. The history of the club has been thrown into doubt after a ruling by the Abritration court for sport over who actually owns the name.
FC Unirea Valahorum Urziceni - Stadium Tineretului - Capacity 7,000. A very impressive 5th place in 2007/08 was followed up by a Championship performance last season for the team known as "Chelsea de Ialomita" because they are managed by ex-Chelsea star Dan Petrescu. They have only been playing in the top division for two seasons. The city of Urziceni is located in the south east of the country.
FC Vaslui - Stadionul Municipal - Capacity 10,000. Another club recently formed - this time in 2002 and risen to the top division in a record 3 years. Last season they finished in 7th place - their best ever finish. Vaslui is located in the east of the country.
Newly Promoted teams for 2009/10 Season
FC Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt - Ceahlaul Stadionul - Capacity 17,500. Newly promoted in 2009 the stadium is located in the town of Piatra Neamt and is a UEFA 3 star stadium meaning that behind Steaua's it is the only one that can hold Champions League games.
FC Ploiesti - Stadionul Astra - Capacity 10,000. The Astra is used by CS Otopeni for some of their Liga 1 games. The club have played at this level a couple of times before, but were in the third division as recently as 2008.
FC Unirea Alba Iulia - Stadionul Victoria-Cetate (aka The Stronghold)- Capacity 18,000. Best placed finish of 6th in 2004, they have more recently been playing in the lower leagues.
FC International Curtea de Arges - Stadionul Municipal - Capacity: 7,500. Currently undergoing a major redvelopment programme. The club were formed in 2000 although they essentially sold themselves to Astra Ploisti. The club reformed in 2007 and has rised up the leagues since. Ironically promoted at the expense of rival club Arges Pitesti.