Andorra

Capital: Andorra la Vella
Population: 65,000
Currency: Euro
Official Language: Catalan
Borders: France (North and West), Spain (South and East)
GNP per Capita: $15,600 (26th in world)
Main Airport: Barcelona (Spain) – 100km or Toulouse (France) – 95km

Andorra is a tiny principality landlocked between France and Spain high in the Pyrenees.  The main source of income comes from its excellent skiing.  The climate sees dry and warm summers, mixed with heavy snow from December to March.

The Andorran First Division (Primera Divisió d’Andorra) is the top football league for the country of Andorra. The league is a part-time league.  The league was launched in 1995 sponsored by the local federation (Andorran Football Federation) which was created just one year before, in 1994.

All the teams in the league play in the same stadium, Estadi Comunal de Aixovall. which holds 1,500 fans and is located in the centre of Andorra la Vella. The same occurs in all other Andorran competitions, such as Copa Constitució and Supercopa.

FC Andorra, the most important club in the country and based in Andorra la Vella never played in this league. They play under the Spanish league system, because they are registered in the Real Federación Española de Fútbol, but the team is mostly composed of players with Andorran nationality.  The winners of the league win a place in the UEFA Champions League, but due to Andorra’s low ranking they must enter at the first qualifying stage. Runners-up qualify for a place in the first round of the UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Champions since 1995
1995-1996: FC Encamp
1996-1997: CE Principat
1997-1998: CE Principat
1998-1999: CE Principat
1999-2000: Constelació Esportiva Andorra la Vella
2000-2001: FC Santa Coloma
2001-2002: FC Encamp
2002-2003: Santa Coloma
2003-2004: FC Santa Coloma
2004-2005: UE Sant Julià
2005-2006: FC Rànger’s
2006-2007: FC Rànger’s
2007-2008: FC Santa Coloma
2008-2009: UE Santa Julia

The following teams will compete in the 2008/09 season – details on the fixtures can be found here.

UE Santa Coloma and FC Santa Coloma – For the 2008/09 season they have been promoted to the first division after winning the second division in 2007/08. FC Santa Coloma B were in 2007 renamed to UE Santa Coloma in order to be eligible for promotion to the first division where FC Santa Coloma A also play.

UE Engordany are based in tiny village of Escaldes-Engordany.  They finished last season in 5th place.

Inter Club d’Escaldes finished 3rd in the 2nd division in 2007. Because Santa Coloma’s B Team, who finished 2nd, were not eligible for the first division, they went into play-offs against FC Encamp. By winning 2-1 at home and drawing 3-3 in the away game, they are promoted to the best league for the 2007/08 season.

Lusitanos played for the first time in the Campionat de Lliga in 2000-2001, after winning the Second Division championship. In 2001-2002 they won their first and only title, the Copa Constitució after winning 2-0 in the final against Inter Club d’Escaldes. Their team comprises of players with Portuguese nationality.

Principat was the team that won the league title in 2004 and qualified to be the first club side to enter a European competition from the tiny principality of Andorra. When their name was rejected, the team tried first to call themselves Real Madrid, in honour of the Spanish giants they adore. Unsurprisingly, this was also ruled out as being somewhat confusing.

After further discussions, the name CE Principat was settled on. The champions exist on a shoestring budget of 3,000 euros ($3,400) a year, half coming from player’s subscriptions with the rest donated by the restaurant. In the 1997/98 UEFA Cup CE Principat played against a British team for the first time when they were paired with Dundee United in the UEFA Cup 1st Qualifying Round. They were beaten at home 8-0 and lost the away leg at Tannadice Park 9-0 a week later.

FC Ranger’s were founded in 1981, but only started playing in Andorran leagues in 1999. After two years in the Segunda División de Andorra, they played for the first time in the Campionat de Lliga in 2001/02. After that promotion the club started a growing career, and after being 2nd in 2005, they won the title the two subsequent years, 2006 and 2007. Between 2004 and 2006 the club was known as Pizzeria Venècia Rànger’s due to sponsor reasons.

FC Ranger’s made their first time appearance in European competitions, playing the Intertoto Cup in the summer of 2005, being eliminated by SK Sturm Graz by 6-1 in aggregate. The home game ended with a 1-1 draw (goal by Norberto Urbani). After the winning of the championship they qualified for the UEFA Cup and were eliminated in the 1st Round by FK Sarajevo. FC Rànger’s became the first Andorran team to compete in the UEFA Champions League by qualifying for the 2007-08 season. Their stay was however short-lived as they were eliminated in the first qualifying round after a 5-0 aggregate loss to Sheriff Tiraspol.

UE Sant Julia play in the village of Aixovall in the parish of Sant Julià de Lòria, some 6 km from the capital, Andorra la Vella and 4 km from the Spanish border.

The club won the Andorran League Championship for 2004-05 and came in 2nd in 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons. The club has also appeared in European competitions several times. In the 2000-01 season they were eliminated in the first round of Intertoto Cup by the Swiss team, Lausanne (aggregate 1-9).  Sant Julià faces PFC Cherno More Varna of Bulgaria in the first qualifying round of the 2008-09 UEFA Cup.

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