Greek Superleague Stadiums & Stats

Football Greece Flag
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Created in its current format on the 16th of July in 2006 as a replacement for the Alpha Ethniki, Superleague Greece is the top-flight football league in the country of Greece.

It runs from August until May and has sixteen teams competing to be named the nation’s champions. There are a choice number of teams who dominate the league, 'The Big Three', with the others almost always ranking as nothing more than 'also rans' - although six different teams have been crowned champions in Greece since 1927.

But what sort of stadiums would you find if you went to watch some live football in the Hellenic country? What do you need to know about the structure of the league system? And how did it all get started in the first place? You didn’t really ask, but we’ll tell you anyway.

Stadium Stats

Stadium Year Opened Capacity Ave Attendance Record Attendance Record Attendance Match
Georgios Karaiskakis
Olympiacos, Greece National Team
2004 32,115 23,248 42,415 Olympiacos vs AEK Athens (1965)

Team Stats

Team Year Founded Nickname Team Owner
Olympiacos 1925 Thrylos (The Legend), Erythrolefkoi (The Red-Whites), Kokkinoi (The Reds), Dafnostefanomenos (The laurel-crowned) Abisso Holdings Limited

Greek Superleague Stadiums

The majority of the stadiums in Greece come in at around the 10,000 capacity mark or under, but if you visit the home of any of the Big Three you will find significantly bigger stadia with more seats. AEK Athens actually play at the Olympic Stadium which is a multi-functional venue with a 69,000 capacity, while PAOK Thessaloniki can host 29,000.

PAOK Thessaloniki Toumba Stadium
apostolis k [CC BY 3.0]

As you’d expect from a country that enjoys rather pleasant weather throughout most of the year, the stadia are designed to make the most of the sun and the pleasing climate. That means open stands with little cover; the exception to this being the ‘main’ stands that often have a roof. Design-wise they are a mix of ‘European’ bowls of continuous seating and the more ‘British’ variation of having an individual stand on each side of the pitch.

About The League

The sixteen teams that compete in the Superleague all face each other twice - once at home and once away. This means that every team ends up playing thirty games before the end of the season. The system of promotion and relegation that is in place with the Football League is simple enough - the bottom three teams drop down to the Football League, swapping places with that league's top three from the previous season who are promoted. On occasion, it has been necessary to change the number of teams promoted and relegated; for example, at the end of the 2014-2015 season it was decided to change the league from eighteen teams to the current sixteen, so four teams went down and only two came up.

Two teams from the Superleague get to enter the following season’s Champions League. The winners are the obvious first choice side, with the second entrant decided by a play-off between the four teams that finished between second and fifth. Whilst the champions go straight into the group stage, the winner of the play-off isn’t guaranteed a Champions League berth; instead, they’ve got to make it through the Third Qualifying Round first. The runners-up of the play-off stage of the Superleague enter the Europa League, as does the team that wins the Greek Cup.

Baffled football fan Greece
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The play-off for the Champions League and Europa League places is an enjoyably convoluted affair. All four teams play each other twice more, just as they did in the league. The difference is that they don’t all start the process on zero points. The team that finished fifth does, with the other four receiving a number of points depending on how many points ahead of fifth they ended the season. This is then divided by five to give them their weighting for the play-off. Say the fifth-placed team ended the season on 60 points and the fourth finished it with 65, third with 70, and second with 83 - that’s a difference of 5, 10, and 13. They will therefore begin the play-offs with 1, 2, and 3 points respectively. Told you it was convoluted.

Greek Superleague History

The first ever professional league in Greece was formed in 1927 with the title of the ‘Panhellenic Championship’. Another league under the name of the ‘Hellenic Association of Amateur Athletics’ had existed between 1905 and 1912, but the word ‘amateur’ is the clue for that one. In the wake of the First World War, two football associations were formed to control the sport in their areas. There was one for Athens and Piraeus and another for Thessaloniki. In 1923 it was decided that it would be fun to discover which team was the best, so there was a cup final to decide who would be crowned the Panhellenic Champion.

Olympiacos Players 1950s
έργο αυτού που το δημοσιεύει [CC BY-SA 3.0 or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The same thing didn’t happen the following year as the association that had been controlling teams from Athens and Piraeus split in two. By 1927 it was felt that there should be a definitive champion of Greece, so a national championship was formed with the agreement of all three of Greece's Football Associations. This competition was repeated in 1929 and again over the following few years. Teams didn’t automatically get to take part in it, however, instead needing to qualify through their own local competitions. It wasn’t until 1959 that a proper Greek league was set-up when the Alpha Ethniki was formed, becoming the basis for the Superleague that exists today.

Remarkably, only four teams have ever won the Greek top-flight since its inception in its current form in 1959. The competition has been dominated by the three teams from Athens and its surrounding areas, with only POAK from Thessaloniki managing to break that up. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that Olympiacos have won the Greek championship the same number of times on their own as the other three clubs have won it combined. Panathinaikos have been crowned champions seventeen times, AEK Athens ten times, and PAOK have won it twice. Olympiacos, meanwhile, have picked up the title twenty-nine times to date.