Swiss Super League
The Swiss Super League was formed in 1898 under the name of Swiss Serie A, and it currently represents the country’s premier football competition. Throughout the years, the league changed its name and format on various occasions, before being rebranded as the Raiffeisen Football League in 2012.
Organizer: Swiss Football Association (SFV-ASF)
Swiss Serie A (1898-1929)
Nationalliga A (1933-2003)
Super League (2003-)
Most championships: Grasshopper (27)
Most played seasons: Basel, Grasshopper, Young Boys (15, since 2003)
With the formation of the Swiss Football Association (SFV-ASF) in 1895, founding the first football league in the country seemed like a foregone conclusion. However, the first league wasn’t organized by the SFV-ASF, but by a prominent Geneva newspaper. This tournament took place in 1897-98, with Grasshopper emerging as the winner. The official league was formed next season, with the Anglo-American Club Zürich taking home the first trophy.
In 1901, the Serie A adopted a three-group format that remained in place until 1931. During this period, the teams were sorted into the East, West, and Central groups, with the winners qualifying for the final tournament. Young Boys was the only team that managed to claim three consecutive titles during this era, having done that between 1908 and 1911. Grasshopper and Servette were also fairly successful silverware-wise.
The National League era
From 1931 to 1944, the league was known as the National League (or Nationalliga). In its first two editions, the league included two separate groups. In 1933, however, the SFV-ASF introduced a single-group format and revamped the second division as the National League B. From that point onward, the Swiss League was always a single-group competition with a promotion and relegation system.
In 1944, the SFV-ASF changed the league’s name to the National League A in order to differentiate it from the second division, and this name stuck until 2003. These five decades saw the rise and fall of many Swiss clubs, with Grasshopper, Basel, and Young Boys all leading the pack on various occasions. From 1987 onward, the league was separated into two stages, with the best-ranked teams from the first stage qualifying for the championship round.
By 2003, it was clear that Swiss football could use some consolidation of quality at the top. The SFV-ASF responded by revamping the National League A into the Swiss Super League. The new league consisted of just ten teams, and this format hasn’t changed to this day. In 2012, the Raiffeisen sponsorship led to the final name change, and the league became known as the Raiffeisen Super League.
Unlike the previous league formats, the Super League was all about Basel. Starting with the inaugural 2003-04 season, Basel claimed 11 out of 16 titles, with the remaining five going to Zürich (3) and Young Boys (2). Between 2009 and 2017, Basel won 8 straight championships, cementing its place as the dominant force in Swiss football. Since the formation of the Super League, its winner qualifies for the Champions League play-off round.
The top tier of the Swiss football league system is is since 2003 named Super League (before that National League A, Nationalliga and Serie A; see above). The second football division in Switzerland is known as Swiss Challenge League (previously Nationalliga B, and before that Swiss Serie B). Swiss Promotion League is the third division (previously 1. Liga). The fourth tier, Swiss 1. Liga, is divided into several regional subdivisions. An overview of the current league system in Switzerland is presented in table 1.
Below the fourth level follows the 2. Liga Interregional and 2. Liga, which are divided in several regional zones.
Teams with most titles
Statistics of all Swiss clubs that have won the top league more than once, concerning the period 1898-2020.
|BSC Young Boys||14|
In addition, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Lugano, Winterthur, Aarau, Neuchâtel Xamax, St. Gallen, Anglo-American Club Zürich, Biel-Bienne, Luzern, Brühl, Étoile-Sporting and Bellinzona has all won the top league one, two or three times.
If only Super League titles are included, Basel has outstanding record with eleven titles between 2004 and 2019.
Teams with most league participation
Statistics of the Swiss clubs that have participated ten or more times in the top league during the period 2003-2019 (earlier records are missing).
In total 18 clubs has participating in the top division during this period.
Capacity of Super League
Table 4 shows the capacity of all Super League club stadiums (based on the teams that participated in the league season 2018–2019). Basel and Young Boys has the biggest stadiums, with both capacities over 30,000.
|FC Basel||St. Jakob-Park||38,512|
|FC Lugano||Stadio Cornaredo||6,330|
|FC St. Gallen||Kybunpark||19,456|
|FC Thun||Stockhorn Arena||10,000|
|Neuchâtel Xamax||Stade de la Maladière||12,000|
|BSC Young Boys||Stade de Suisse||31,789|
The all-time goalscorer in Swiss Super League is Marco Streller. He played for FC Basel between 2008 and 2015 and scored 111 times. Marco Streller has also the record for being part of the champion team eight times.
By Martin Wahl
Super League timeline
1895 The Swiss Football Federation is founded.
1898 Swiss Serie A (predecessor to Super League) is established.
1933 The league is renamed as Nationalliga A.
1995 From the 1995-96 season, wins are awarded three points instead of two.
2003 The league is renamed as Super League.
2012 The league is named Raiffeisen Super League due to sponsorship reasons.