Introduction to the Dutch Football Eredivisie
The Eredivisie is the top professional football league in the Netherlands. Like the Bundesliga in Germany, Eredivisie can refer to several sports, but when no sport is mentioned, it is understood that one is talking about soccer.
Professional football is relatively new in the Netherlands, and the Eredivisie only came in to being in 1956. It is currently ranked 8th in Europe using the UEFA Coefficient as the quality metric, just behind the Russian Premier League and ahead of the Ukranian Premier League in what could be considered European football’s second tier. In terms of international interest it is probably ahead of both of these countries and roughly equal to the French Ligue 1.
AFC Ajax of Amsterdam are the leagues most successful team with 22 titles in the professional era, followed by PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord. Between these three teams they have won the league every year since 1965 with the exception of 1981 and 2009 titles who went to AZ (from Alkmaar) and the 2010 title, which was won by FC Twente.
Ajax are also the last side to have a major European success, winning the then European Cup in 1995 and appearing in the final in 1996. Elsewhere, Feyenoord won the 2002 UEFA cup but since then Dutch football has not really been competitive in the top tier of European competition.
The Eredivisie is home to 18 clubs that each play each other home and away, meaning the season is 34 games long, slightly shorter than the English Premier League and La Liga in Spain. Matches are played mostly on Saturday and Sunday, though there is the occasional round of midweek matches which take place on Wednesday and usually there’s a single match on Friday evening for TV purposes.
At the end of the season, the team who finish bottom of the table are relegated to the Eerste Divisie, which is the second level of the Dutch system, with the Eerste Divise champions being promoted. As well as straight relegation and promotion, the Dutch league operates a playoff system that’s slightly more complex than in other countries.
The two teams which finish above the bottom placed team go into a playoff with eight teams from the Eerste Divisie. The eight Eerste Divisie teams play down to two and these teams take on the Eredivise teams for a spot in the Eredivise the following year.
At the other end of the Eredivisie, the Dutch Champions automatically qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, while the second place team enter at the third qualifying round, where they must win a two legged fixture to get to the playoff round, and then a further two legged fixture to qualify for the group stages. Should they fail to do so, they’re entered directly into the Europa League. The teams which finish 3rd and 4th in the Eredivisie are entered into the Europa League at the playoff, and third qualifying rounds respectively.
Sponsorship and Media Coverage
Beyond Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, and Feyenoord, Dutch teams are little known outside the Netherlands. These three times also dominate in the home market, attracting much higher attendances than other clubs. While the lower teams in the Eredivisie might only attract 10,000 fans per game, Ajax average close to 50,000.
Eredivisie games are streamed live at livesport.tv and on many gambling sites such as bwin. They are also shown on Eredivisie Live, a pay-TV channel in the Netherlands, with highlights shown on Nerderlands 1. Eredivisie action comes as part of some pay-TV packages around the world such as with BT Sport in the British Isles, ESPN 3 in the USA, and Setanta Sports in Australia. The Eredivisie ranks sixth in Europe in terms of shirt sponsorship, with the 18 teams generating €42m per season, about 1/3 of that generated by the English Premier League.
PSV Eindhoven dominated the league for the first decade of the century, winning 7 titles, with the last coming in 2008. Since then, the league has been more open and Eindhoven haven’t even managed a second place and there have been 3 different winners since then with Ajax winning two in a row in 2011 and 2012, though the league has seen little in the way of Champions League success which is partially why they find themselves languishing in 8th in the UEFA Coefficient standings.
Interesting Facts About the Eredivisie
-The highest scoring games was in 1960 when Feyenoord beat Ajax 9-5.
-The worst defeat was Ajax’s 12-1 drubbing of Vitesse Arnhem in 1972.
-Pim Doesberg holds the Eredivisie appearances record with 687.
-The single season scoring record is 43 goals by Coen Dillen, while the carerr goal-scoring record lies with Willy van der Kuijlen on 311.
-The Dutch transfer record is €16.25m, paid by Heerenveen to Ajax for Miarlem Sulejmani.