Capital: Baku Population: 7.7 million Currency: Manat Official Language: Azerbaijani Borders: Georgia (North), Russia (North/East), Iran (South), Armenia (West) GNP per Capita: $510 (141st in world) Main Airport: Baku International - Baku
Situated on the western coast of the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan was the first Soviet republic to declare independence in 1991. The issues of the disputed enclave of Nagorno Karabakh led to the outbreak of war in 1993 which still rumbles on now with neighbours Armenia. Its Oil reserves however do mean that the future looks good economically for the country.
The Azerbaijan Premier League is the top division of Azerbaijan football. There are 14 teams in the competition. At the end of the season two teams get relegated to the Azerbaijan First Division and get replaced with the two top First Division teams.
The Azerbaijan Premier League was organized in 2007 and succeeded the Top Division (Turkish: Yuksak Liga), the difference being that the Top Division was run by the Professional Football League of Azerbaijan, and the creation of the Premier League gave the clubs a greater degree of independence. The Top Division had existed from 1992 to 2007. The champions qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the second-placed team qualifies for the UEFA Cup, and the third-placed team for the UEFA Intertoto Cup. Two bottom team are relegated to the First Division. The league runs from August to May.
Champions since 1992 1992 Neftchi Baku 1993 FK Karabakh 1993/94 PFC Turan Tovuz 1994/95 FC Kapaz 1995/96 Neftchi Baku 1996/97 Neftchi Baku 1997/98 FC Kapaz 1998/99 FC Kapaz 1999/00 FK Shamkir 2000/01 FK Shamkir NO CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2002 to 2003 2003/04 Neftchi Baku 2004/05 Neftchi Baku 2005/06 FK Baku 2006/07 FK Khazar Lenkoran 2007/08 FC Inter Baku 2008/09 FK Baki
Karabakh beat Inter Baku in the Cup Final and also take a place in the Europa League
The following teams will be playing in the 2008/09 season - For an up to date list of fixtures, click here.
Neftchi Baku - Baku - Tofig Bakhramov Stadium - Capacity: 29,858. One of the most successful teams in the country. They play at the national stadium, named after the linesman who gave England's 3rd goal in the 1966 World Cup final.
FK Karabakh - Baku - Tofig Ismailov Stadium - Capacity: 5,000. FK "Karabagh" have twice been champions of the Azerbaijan football championship in 1993 and 1996. Apart from two championship titles, 'Qarabagh' squad won 2 league cups and represented Azeri football in European competitions. They played home matches in Baku since 1993, because Agdam was occupied by Armenian troops during Nagorno-Karabakh war.
PFC Turan Tovuz - Tovuz - Tovuz Shehar City Stadium - Capacity: 5,800. League champions in 1995, which is their only domestic honour. The club often play their games in the Saher Stadium in Baku.
FC Inter Baku - Baku - Shafar Stadium - Capacity: 15,055. Last seasons champions, for the first time, they will play in Europe for the first time as well in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.
FK Baku - Baku - Tofig Bakhramov Stadium - Capacity: 29,858. The club share the national stadium with Neftchi Baku. They won their one and only championship in 2006.
MOIK Baku - Baku - MOIK Stdium - Capacity: 2,200. Champions of the second division last season, they will struggle to make an impact this season.
Bakili Baku - Baku. Runners up in the 2nd division last season.
FK Khazar Lenkoran - Lenkoran - Lenkoran City Stadium - Capacity: 13,000. FK Khazar Lankaran have completed the double in Azerbaijan after lifting the Azerbaijani Cup for the first time with a 1-0 win against MKT Araz. The club was founded in 2004 and has already won one championship and one cup. Former players include Turkish international, Oktay Derelioğlu.
FK Karvan - Karvan - Yevhlak Stadium - Capacity: 5,000. The club was founded in 2004 and immediately admitted to the AFFA Supreme League. They finished third in 2004/05 and second in 2005/06. In addition, they reached national cup final in 2005/06. Karvan played in the Intertoto Cup in 2005 and are currently playing in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup. And first time in Azerbaijan football's history they have passed the first preliminary round by beating historical Slovakian team Spartak Trnava 2-0 on aggregate.
FK Olimpik Baku - Baku - Shafa Stadium - Capacity: 7,840. Runners up last season and thus will play in the UEFA Cup in 2008.
FK Simurq Zaqatala - Simurq Stadium - Capacity: 4,000. When the club was founded in 2005, it entered the first league of Azerbaijan. The club's first season was very successful, and in the 2006-07 season, the club was participating in the Azerbaijan Premier League. After it's debuting season in the Premier League of Azerbaijan, FK Simurq finished 9th out of 14 clubs.
Standard Baku - Baku - Shafa Stadium - Capacity: 7,840. Promoted from the 2nd division in 2007, they finished their debut season in 10th place.
FK NBC Salyany - Salyany City Stadium - Capacity: 4,000. Promoted in third place last season.
BMI fly direct from London Heathrow on a regular, but not daily basis, from London Heathrow to Baku.