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The Greek Super League – An Introduction
One of the newer super football leagues in Europe comes from the country of Greece. This league is currently the highest professional association football league in Greece. Founded on July 16th 2006 it currently is ranked 14th by its UEFA coefficient. This place gives the Greek Super League two Champions League qualifiers and three Europa League qualifiers. Since 1959 Alpha Ethniki had reigned as the highest in professional Greek football. The Greek Super League has its roots in the Alpha Ethniki, however is a completely different league.
Currently there are sixteen clubs that compete in the Super League. The Greek system of football follows a similar to structure to leagues throughout Europe. The Beta Ethniki is the second league in Greek football and at the end of the season three teams are promoted from the Beta Ethniki with three teams being relegated from the Greek Super League. The season is composed of each of the sixteen teams playing a home and away series. The two teams that finish at the top both qualify for the UEFA Champions League with the top team entering directly into the third qualifying round. The teams that place second through fifth in the league enter a playoff for the second entry. The team that wins this playoff will enter the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
The Big Three
Many of the teams in the current Greek Super League have a rich and storied past coming from there time in Alpha Ethniki. The league is currently and has been dominated by the big three: Olympiacos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens.
Probably the most storied team of the league is the current champions, Olympiacos. Olympiacos Syndesmos Filathlon Pireos, or Olympiacos Club of Fans of Piraeus, was founded in 1925 and is the most successful football club in Greek history. The have won thirty six League titles and many other regional trophies. In addition to this they have reached the quarter finals in the UEFA Champions League as well as the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. They currently play at Karaiskakis Stadium which was originally built in 1895.
Panathinaikos was founded in 1908 and is the oldest members of the big three. They have won 19 Greek championship titles as well as many additional regional trophies. The team until 1979 was an amateur club and organisation, however in that year it became a professional organisation. There traditional home stadium is Athens Olympic Stadium, however they are currently planning the design of Panathinaikos Athens Arena which will be their new home for the 2010-2011 season. The team in recent years has suffered a severe down turn. This crisis has currently reached its peak as fans are currently dissatisfied with the direction and management of the club. Hopefully management can turn this around and recover and grow one of the most storied franchises not only in Greek football, but in all of the world.
The last team in the big three is AEK F.C., or the Athletic Union of Constantinople. This team was formed by Greek refuges from Constantinople in Athens in 1924 and has gone on to be one of the most successful football with 28 national titles to their credit. They have been the champions of the top league in Greece 11 times and have continually provided top players to the Greek National Football Team. They have made it farther then any other Greek Football Club by reaching the semi finals of the UEFA Cup in 1977. This teams unique history has made for one of the more storied and celebrated teams in all of European football. Fans of this club are a lively bunch and enjoy a good game of football as much as anyone.
These three teams represent the bulk of the championships in the Greek Super League and the Alpha league. The continuously place one, two, three in the rankings and all three have played 50 seasons in the top division. This ranks all three at the top of the league with Panthessalonikios Athlitikos Omilos Konstantinoupoliton also having 50 season in the top league.
As you can see the Greek Super League has many teams that have a rich history of quality football. While the Greek Super League probably will never be on the level of Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom leagues, it does bring solid play that helps to round out the field for the Champions and Europa cup tournaments. These teams have a faithful following in Greece and regularly will fill 70,000 person stadiums. This is testament to the strength of Greek football and what it means to the people of this country. With a background going back more then a hundred years football is something that has been a part of Greece for a long time and will continue to be so. By continuing to support the local teams and the top league, Greece will continue to field competitive teams to into the Champions league and world competitions.