Top 12 Football Leagues in Asia

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There are numerous football leagues played in Asia that have been established for years. Apart from the history of the leagues, the players transferred, top players in the league, the average attendance, fans and followers of the league are also some of the contributing factors for the popularity of the league.

In order to pick the top 12 football leagues in Asia, we have considered their recent season’s attendance and listed the top Leagues. Know more about the top leagues by checking out the list we have shared below.

1.Chinese Super League

Originated – 2004
Country – China
Number of teams – 16
Reigning Champion – Shanghai SIPG (2018)
Most Successful team – Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao (7 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018: 24,107

The Chinese Super League is the highest tier of professional football in China, which is governed by the Chinese Football Association (CFA). Initially, 12 teams participated in the league which later in 2006, expanded to 16. Since the league’s inception, 7 teams have won the title and 31 teams have competed in the league.

Club Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao is considered the most successful team in the Chinese Super League as they have been crowned as the winner for a record of 7 times in a row. They defended their title from 2011 to 2017 and their winning streak came to an end by Shanghai SPIG having grabbed the title in 2018 and Guangzhou was the runner-up.

SeasonTotal AttendanceGamesAverageChangeHigh Avg.TeamNo. Of ClubsRelegation Slots
20041,430,60013210,838-63.4%23,636Shandong Luneng Taishan12
20051,871,70018210,284-5.4%26,000Shandong Luneng Taishan14
20062,228,30021010,611+3.2%30,679Shandong Luneng Taishan151
20073,173,50021015,112+42.4%24,643Shanxi Chanba151
20083,065,28022813,444-12.4%26,501Shandong Luneng Taishan162
20093,854,11524016,059+19.5%36,805Beijing Guoan162
20103,499,30424014,581-9.2%33,342Beijing Guoan162
20114,236,32224017,651+21.1%45,666Guangzhou Evergrande162
20124,497,57824018,740+6.2%37,250Guangzhou Evergrande162
20134,456,97724018,571-0.9%40,428Guangzhou Evergrande162
20144,556,52024018,986+2.2%42,154Guangzhou Evergrande162
20155,326,30424022,193+16.8%45,889Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao162
20165,798,13524024,159+8.8%44,883Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao162
20175,703,87124023,766−1.6%45,587Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao162
20185,785,76624024,107+1.4%47,002Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao162

2.J-League

Originated – 1992
Country – Japan
Number of teams – 55 + 3 under-23 teams
Reigning Champion – J1: Kawasaki Frontale, J2: Matsumoto Yamaga, J3: FC Ryuku
Most Successful team – Kashima Antlers (7 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018: 19,064

The J League was founded in 1992 which includes three professional football leagues namely the first division J1 League, second division J2 League and third division J3 League. Having formed in 1992, the J League has 8 clubs drawn from the Japan Soccer League (JSL) First Division, 1 from the Second Division, and the newly formed team Shimizu S-Pulse.

The first official J League was held in 1993 with 10 clubs. Later the league had 9 more clubs joining from the semi-professional JFL, formerly called JSL and 1 club from J. League to create a 2-division system. J League Division 1 (J1) became the top flight with 16 clubs, whereas, in 1999, the J League Division 2 (J2) was formed with 10 clubs. In 2013, the third division Japan League was formed J3.

The initial plan of the first official J3 League was to feature 10 clubs which was later changed by another session of J League Council to feature 12 teams.

PosTeamTotalHighLowAverageChange
1Urawa Red Diamonds603,53455,68921,25035,502+5.8%
2FC Tokyo449,38844,80113,42526,432−0.2%
3Nagoya Grampus419,21843,5799,29724,660+60.5%
4Gamba Osaka399,24235,24211,82423,485−3.3%
5Kawasaki Frontale394,70924,67717,11323,218+5.0%
6Yokohama F. Marinos370,40141,6868,68821,788−9.9%
7Vissel Kobe367,71626,6039,01521,630+18.4%
8Kashima Antlers330,37633,6477,67219,434−5.0%
9Cerezo Osaka319,78234,3038,16518,811−10.3%
10Consadole Sapporo309,79834,2506,72918,223−1.1%
11Júbilo Iwata263,06031,3758,04715,474−5.2%
12Vegalta Sendai261,94319,15213,15815,408+4.5%
13Sagan Tosu255,00422,6697,13815,000+5.7%
14Shimizu S-Pulse254,84420,1096,19314,991−0.8%
15Sanfrecce Hiroshima243,87421,9977,34414,346+2.2%
16Shonan Bellmare206,03915,3518,00212,120+43.4%
17Kashiwa Reysol193,83314,2089,25511,402+6.3%
18V-Varen Nagasaki190,82715,9756,57911,225+88.9%
League total5,833,53855,6896,19319,064+1.0%

3.Indian Super League

Originated – 2013
Country – India
Number of teams – 10
Reigning Champion – Bengaluru FC
Most Successful team – ATK (Atlético de Kolkata), Chennaiyin FC (2 titles each)
Average Attendance – 2018-19: 14,304

The Indian Super League was established in 2013 which is governed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). It is the top tier men’s football league in India along with the co-existing top tier I-League. The ISL was formed with an aim of establishing the popularity of football in India and the competition’s first season was held in 2014 with 8 teams.

The Asian Football Confederation, the sanctioning body for the sport in Asia were unaware of the first three seasons of Indian Super League and they received their first official recognition before the 2017/18 season and expanded the league structure from 8 to 10 clubs.

ATK won the first Indian Super League title in 2014 followed by another win in 2016. Tallying their two wins, the Chennaiyin also went on to win the title twice in 2015 and 2018. The current champions of the ISL are the Bengaluru FC who has lifted the title for the first time.

TeamGPCumulativeHighLowMean
Jamshedpur6132,24223,05020,47222,040
ATK6131,29641,20215,33321,883
Kerala Blasters6129,11631,1668,45121,519
Goa585,34417,80715,93217,069
Bengaluru682,84020,7869,37913,807
NorthEast United680,99018,3219,13413,498
Chennaiyin678,33114,9929,78413,055
Delhi Dynamos653,68612,3425,1218,948
Pune City640,5548,1935,9416,759
Mumbai City629,5517,5633,4624,925
Total59843,93041,2023,46214,304

4.I-League

Originated – 2007
Country – India
Number of teams – 11
Most Successful team – Dempo (3 titles)
Reigning Champion – Chennai City
Average Attendance – 2018: 13,073

I League is the top football league in India, founded in 2007, is the successor to the National Football League (NFL). The inaugural season of the I-League featured 10 teams, 8 from the NFL campaign and 2 from the 2nd Division. I-League runs in parallel to the Indian Super League as the top tier league in the Indian National Football System.

The system of promotion and relegation is being followed by the I-League with the 2nd Division I-League and the I-League champions get the opportunity to participate in Asia’s top international club competition, AFC Champions League. The club to have won the most title in the history of the league is Dempo, who won the title thrice alternatively in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

Since the commencement of the I-League in 2007, 7 clubs have won the title so far. Club Churchill Brothers and former I-League team Bengaluru stand as the second most title won teams with 2 wins. Clubs to have crowned as the winner at least once is Salgaocar, Mohun Bagan, Aizawl, Minerva Punjab, and the reigning league champions, Chennai City.

Team>GPCumulativeHighLowMean
East Bengal51,40,94464,86714,20628,189
NEROCA61,41,94029,93219,30423,657
Gokulam Kerala61,34,86530,24613,82422,477
Mohun Bagan477,59322,38714,43619,399
Real Kashmir672,50812,85710,52112,085
Chennai City538,3659,8565,2687,673
Shillong Lajong429,51514,6974,3207,379
Minerva Punjab530,4648,5914,2756,093
Aizawl519,0895,3241,6903,818
Churchill Brothers39,7343,7962,9113,245
Indian Arrows513,9164,5205002,783
Total547,05,93364,86750013,073

5.A league

Originated – 2004
Country – Australia
Number of teams – 10
Reigning Champion
A-League Champion – Melbourne Victory (4 titles)
Premier League Champion – Perth Glory (1 title)
Most Successful team
A-League Wins – Melbourne Victory (4 titles)
Premier League Wins – Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC (3 titles each)
Average Attendance – 2017-18: 10,671

Australia’s major tournament that was founded in 2004 was the A-League that had its first official competition in 2005. The Football Federation Australia (FFA) governs this professional men’s soccer league which was initially played by 8 teams. The predecessor National Soccer League (NSL) was the Nation’s premier football competition between 1977 and 2005.

The current league’s structure is contested by 10 teams which include 9 teams based in Australia and 1 from New Zealand. The A-League does not follow the promotion and relegation system and the team that wins the titles gets qualified for the continental competition, the Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL) also known as AFC Champions League.

Since the inception of the League, 6 clubs have won the A-League Premiers and 5 teams have won the A-League title. Perth Glory is the reigning Premier Champion, who won their first Premier championship in the 2018/19 A-League. The club that won the 2018/19 A-League championship is Melbourne Victory.

TeamHostedAverageHighLowTotal
Melbourne Victory1417,63135,7928,370246,832
Sydney FC1414,59334,8109,110204,304
Western Sydney Wanderers1311,92436,4336,612155,017
Newcastle Jets1411,01618,1566,258154,218
Melbourne City149,86822,5155,207138,158
Adelaide United139,83019,4167,021127,790
Perth Glory139,18613,5657,277119,419
Brisbane Roar149,09311,4855,192127,299
Central Coast Mariners137,19412,0444,97393,525
Wellington Phoenix135,6948,1544,31274,022
League total13510,67136,4334,3121,440,584

6.Liga 1

Originated – 1909
Country – Romania
Number of teams – 14
Reigning Champion – CFR Cluj
Most Successful team – FCSB (26 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018: 10,162

The Liga Profesionistă de Fotbal (LPF) operates the men’s Romanian professional football league. It conducted its first season in the 1909/10 and the League follows the promotion and relegation system with the Liga II. Currently, a total of 14 teams participate in the league, whereas until 2014/15 season 18 teams took part in the league.

Until the 2006/07 season, the tournament was known by the name Divizia A, but later the name had to be changed. So far the most successful team of the league is FCSB with 26 titles. The second club with the most title wins is Dinamo București with 18 trophies.

The clubs to have won the title at least 3 times in the competition is Venus București, UTA Arad, Chinezul Timișoara, Universitatea Craiova, Petrolul Ploiești, Ripensia Timișoara, Rapid București and CFR Cluj. CFR Cluj is the reigning champion of the League, having won the title 4 times.

PosTeamTotalHighLowAverageChange
1Persebaya485,32850,00010,42628,549n/a
2Persija374,99668,67367022,059−4.1%
3Persib272,29136,500016,017−11.1%
4Bali United258,20122,2108,11415,188+5.9%
5PSM221,03414,89051013,002−5.6%
6PSIS213,24419,8255,70212,544n/a
7Persipura196,68520,6625,33111,570+0.2%
8Arema189,50444,912011,147+10.7%
9PSMS180,32020,0002,27610,607n/a
10Persela170,75815,7875,07510,045−1.0%
11Sriwijaya150,60420,7122858,859+4.0%
12Barito Putera85,5739,0171,6595,034−12.7%
13Madura United82,56013,4101,3664,856−5.7%
14Borneo72,53210,3291,2354,267−37.4%
15Bhayangkara65,79439,4251,1253,870−23.4%
16Mitra Kukar36,1253,4251,1382,125−5.9%
17Perseru28,87712,2001701,699−41.8%
18PS TIRA25,1026,924651,477−34.8%
League total3,109,52868,673010,162+16.7%

7.Saudi Professional League

Originated – 1976
Country – Saudi Arabia
Number of teams – 16
Reigning Champion – Al-Hilal
Most Successful team – Al-Hilal (15 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018-19: 8,702

Saudi Arabia’s top division association football league, Saudi Professional League was formed in the year 1976 which conducted its first competition of the league during 1976/77 with Al-Hilal crowned as the winner of the inaugural season. Al-Hilal is crowned as the most successful team of the league.

The club has been performing exceptionally well every season and is also the current title-holder and has won the title a total of 15 times in the history of the league. The initial season also featured 16 teams which later in 1981 was decided to increase the number of teams and add a second division. In 2008, it was decided that the four teams in Saudi Arabia will qualify for the AFC Champions League annually.

RoundTotalGP.Avg. Per Game
Round 179,10088,763
Round 267,40988,426
Round 3102,509812,814
Round 485,128810,641
Round 555,16786,896
Round 664,33488,042
Round 748,23086,029
Round 869,37288,672
Round 979,380711,340
Round 1061,32787,666
Round 1145,19376,456
Round 1260,84587,606
Round 13000
Total817,994948,702

8.Malaysian Super League

Originated – 2004
Country – Malaysia
Number of teams – 12
Reigning Champion – Johor Darul Ta’zim
Most Successful team – Johor Darul Ta’zim (5 titles)
Average Attendance – 2017: 6,607

The Malaysia Super League also known as the M-League, is governed by the Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) commonly known as the Malaysia Football League (MFL). It is the men’s top professional football division of the Malaysia football league system that is contested by 12 teams.

The M-League follows the relegation and promotion system, with the two lowest-placed teams relegated to the Malaysia Premier League division and the top two teams in that division, are promoted to the M-League. So far, the League has featured 31 clubs since its inception in 2004 and a total of 8 teams have been crowned as champions.

The club to have won the title more than 4 times is Johor Darul Ta’zim with 5 wins and is considered as the most successful team of the league. 3 clubs have won the title twice, Kedah, Selangor, and Kelantan and the clubs to have won the title at least once are Pahang, Perlis, Negeri Sembilan, and LionsXII. Johor Darul Ta’zim won 5 M-League titles in a row which includes the 2017/18 season.

SeasonOverall AttendanceTop 3Bottom 3
TotalAverageTeamAtt.Ave.TeamAttAve.
2015883,2256,691JDT FC184,19816,745ATM FA22,7502,068
Kelantan FA108,6969,881PDRM FA22,3002,027
Pahang FA107,6939,790Sime Darby FC17,9601,633
2016902,6436,838JDT FC191,98217,453PDRM FA32,9502,995
Perak FA121,68711,062Sarawak FA22,8922,081
Kedah FA103,4219,402T-Team FC20,2101,837
2017872,1086,607JDT FC187,55717,051Sarawak FA35,2063,201
Kedah FA161,62614,693PKNS FC30,2342,749
Pahang FA82,9647,542T-Team FC11,9951,090

9.V.League 1

Originated – 1980 (Semi-professional)
2000 (Official)
Country – Vietnam
Number of teams – 14
Reigning Champion – Hanoi FC
Most Successful team – The Cong (5 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018: 6,263

V League 1 is the top professional football league in Vietnam controlled by the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Company which is contested by 14 clubs. The League is played based on the home and away matches. The team that finishes in the top of the season, is crowned the champion and gets qualified for the AFC Champions League.

Having found in 1980 as the All Vietnam Football Championship, the Vietnamese football club Tong Cuc Duong Sat became the first champion of the league. The club considered the most successful club in the league’s history is The Cong. They have won the title 5 times with their last win in 1998.

Since then, the club has neither won the title nor reached the runner-up place. Until 2000, the league stayed unofficial and during the 2000–2001 season the first official competition was played which permitted clubs to hire foreign players. In 2012, the Vietnam Professional Football (VPF) was established and the governing control was transferred from the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) to VPF.

PosTeamTotalHighLowAverageChange
1Nam Định158,00022,000012,154+69.6%
2Hà Nội119,50020,0002,0009,192+48.4%
3Hoàng Anh Gia Lai104,50012,0004,0008,038−4.1%
4Thanh Hóa96,00013,0001,0007,385−20.0%
5Hải Phòng82,00021,0002,0006,308−14.6%
6Sanna Khánh Hòa BVN81,00015,0002,0006,231+26.6%
7SHB Đà Nẵng79,00013,0003,0006,077−24.8%
8Quảng Nam67,00012,0001,0005,154−19.8%
9Sông Lam Nghệ An66,50010,0001,5005,115+19.8%
10Than Quảng Ninh64,0008,0002,0004,923−28.1%
11XSKT Cần Thơ63,80012,0001,5004,908+140.8%
12Becamex Bình Dương58,00018,0001,5004,462+28.9%
13TP Hồ Chí Minh55,00012,0002,0004,231−15.4%
14Sài Gòn44,50012,0001,0003,423+1.1%
League total1,139,80022,0001,0006,263+12.0%

10.K League 1

Originated – 1983
Country – South Korea
Number of teams – 12
Reigning Champion – Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (6th title)
Most Successful team – Seongnam FC (7 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018: 5,445

The Korean Super League was established in 1983 which is the top tier professional football league in South Korea. The Korean Super League was renamed as the K League in 1998 and is currently known as the K League 1 with its official name change in 2018.

Initially, only 5 clubs participated in the league namely, Hallelujah FC, Yukong Elephants, POSCO Dolphins, Daewoo Royals, and Kookmin Bank FC. The club that won the first K League 1 title was Hallelujah FC who finished 1 point ahead of Daewoo FC to be crowned as the winner.

In 2013, the K League faced the splitting of the league into two divisions, the first division named as the K League Classic while the newly created second division was named the K League Challenge and both come under the K League structure. Since its inception, the league has evolved from 5 to 22 clubs.

Among the 5 initial clubs of the league, only Yukong Elephants, POSCO Dolphins, and Daewoo Royals are the clubs that still compete in the K League. The team Kookmin Bank FC of the league left at the end of 1984, while Hallelujah FC left the season after.

PosTeamTotalHighLowAverageChange
1Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors226,22419,1085,00511,907+1.9%
2FC Seoul219,66530,1224,71411,561−29.1%
3Ulsan Hyundai142,94414,2281,0597,523−11.1%
4Pohang Steelers140,66815,3933,0737,404−11.6%
5Suwon Samsung Bluewings114,94313,8532,9406,709−23.6%
6Incheon United84,1517,2821,4024,429−25.3%
7Daegu FC66,83713,3514773,518+5.3%
8Jeonnam Dragons62,61511,0361,8303,296−19.8%
9Gyeongnam FC62,61513,0829323,170+32.3%
10Jeju United60,0338,3541,2153,160−22.1%
11Gangwon FC25,7654,5305691,356−41.2%
12Sangju Sangmu25,0502,3172901,318−19.9%
League total1,241,66730,1222905,445−16.3%

11.Thai League T1

Originated – 1996
Country – Thailand
Number of teams – 16
Reigning Champion – Buriram United
Most Successful team – Buriram United (7 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018: 4,466

Thai League is the country’s premier football competition in the Thai football league system. It is contested by 16 clubs and the league follows the system of promotion and relegation with Thai League 2. The league was founded in 1996 and the first competition was conducted in the 1996/97 season.

Bangkok Bank was the inaugural title-holder of the Thai League and Stock Exchange of Thailand team was the runner-up. Buriram United is the reigning champions of the league and this is their seventh title. They won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. Among the 7 titles won, Buriram United won three consecutive titles in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

PosTeamTotalHighLowAverageChange
1Buriram United221,00335,5736,29413,000−6.4%
2SCG Muangthong United134,50612,7215,3157,912−10.2%
3Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda124,46017,3191,4657,321+30.4%
4Suphanburi90,60113,1561,5595,329−29.9%
5Bangkok Glass82,2808,8963,2474,840−8.7%
6Sukhothai78,3027,8032,4234,606+7.3%
7Chonburi73,1937,8012,8714,305+22.1%
8Port67,7906,6292,0403,987−5.3%
9PT Prachuap65,2814,9792,8313,840+165.0%
10Ratchaburi Mitr Phol60,6647,7471,9793,568−3.1%
11Chiangrai United59,60610,0541,2383,506−46.4%
12Chainat Hornbill52,0315,6562,2193,060+122.7%
13Bangkok United49,4558,2051,4102,909+1.9%
14Pattaya United45,1115,5001,6162,654−24.6%
15Navy42,7954,9038842,517−0.1%
16Police Tero41,9724,5401,4672,469+36.0%
17Ubon UMT United41,2825,2721,2252,428−24.5%
18Air Force Central36,1656,7561,0092,127−41.5%
League total1,366,49735,5738844,466−3.0%

12.Hong Kong Premier League

Originated – 2014
Country – Hong Kong
Number of teams – 10
Reigning Champion – Kitchee
Most Successful team – Kitchee (3 titles)
Average Attendance – 2018-19: 1,078

The Hong Kong Premier League is the top division football league in Hong Kong which was founded in 2014. The Hong Kong Football Association is the governing body of the Hong Kong Football League. with 9 teams competing for the championship. The initial seasons did not follow the relegation system and would continue to be promoted to the top-tier league until there were 12 member clubs.

At the end of the 2014/15 season, the HKFA concluded that one club would be relegated and one club would be promoted from the 2014-15 Hong Kong First Division League. The club considered the most successful team of the Hong Kong Premier League is Kitchee. They have been crowned as the winner of the League 3 times and are the reigning champions of the League.

PosTeamTotalHighLowAverageChange
1Kitchee11,2353,4891,0381,873−12.3%
2Southern3,6621,7866301,221+147.7%
3Eastern5,9811,7348981,196−20.8%
4Yuen Long4,6141,4019391,154+2.2%
5Pegasus2,1461,2958511,073+29.3%
6Tai Po2,7651,105653922−3.0%
7Lee Man3,6021,952525901+77.0%
8R&F2,980781729745−6.5%
9Dreams2,811773645703−5.6%
10Hoi King2,242804444561n/a1
League total42,0383,4894441,078+12.8%

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