Cypriot First Division
The Cypriot Championship First Division is the top flight of football in Cyprus. It is officially known as the Marfin Laiki League.
The Cypriot First Division was established in 1932 but it was unofficial at the time. Then two years later in September 1934, the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) was formed and the Cypriot Championship and Cup began to take place annually. The 1930s were dominated by APOEL, who won five championship in a row until 1940 when World War II interrupted proceedings in the league.
Then came the Greek Civil War which affected football in Cyprus severely. In 1948, some clubs were involved in politics and criticized the left-wing as responsible for the War. Several footballers then went on to help establish new clubs with their own Association and their own football competitions. Until 1953 there were two separate football Championships in Cyprus and two different Associations.
In 1953 though, the two Associations unified Cypriot football, and the teams which were established in 1948 under the separate association, were allowed to become members of the CFA. The usual features of relegation and promotion began in Cypriot football.
The unified Cypriot Championship lasted for only two seasons. There was a political reason behind this as the Turkish Cypriot leadership were supporting the partition of the island. However, this Federation was never recognized and no team of that federation could play in international competitions.
After the Independence of Cyprus in 1960 and the subsequent recognition of the Cyprus Football Association by UEFA in 1962, football in Cyprus began to improve and the domestic league started gathering more momentum. AC Omonia dominated the Cypriot Championship in the 1970s and 1980s, winning 12 championship in 13 seasons. Anorthosis Famagusta dominated Cyprus football between 1995 and 2000, losing the championship during those years only once in 1996. They are also the reigning champions of their nation.
The Cypriot First Division comprises of 14 clubs. Each clubs plays the others twice, once at home and once away from home. From the 2007-2008 a second round was introduced in the league.
In the second round, the first 12 teams are divided into groups of 4 teams according to their position at the end of the first round and the 13th and 14th teams are relegated to the second division. In the second round too each team plays the others twice, once at home and once away from home. The points from the first round are carried to the second round.
The last two teams are relegated to the second division. The points from the first round are carried to the second round and the teams play the other teams twice. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned as champions. The three lowest placed teams are relegated into the Cypriot Second Division and the top three teams from the 2nd Division promoted in their place.
The league champions enter the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League whereas the runners-up enter the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup.
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