Estonia

Capital: Tallinn
Population: 1.4 million
Currency: Kroon
Official Language: Estonian
Borders: Russia (East) and Latvia (South)
GNP per Capita: $3,360 (66th in world)
Main Airport: Ulemiste – Tallinn

Traditionally the most western-orientated of the Baltic States, Estonia is still bordered by Russia to the east although it is miles away from its previous Soviet rule.  It is a world leaer in IT and is the home to Skype.  Beautiful, long sunny days in the summer, and crisp and cold winters – the Baltic even freezes sometimes.

The Meistriliiga is the highest division of the Estonian Football Association annual football championship. The league was founded in 1991 and 2007 is the league’s 17th season. It is not fully professional, only 5 teams are professionals and the other 5 teams are semi-professional.

For a more detailed view on football in Estonia then go to Footiemap.com to access their Estonian Football map page.

As in most countries with low temperatures in winter time, the season starts around March and ends in late November. The championships top division consists of ten clubs, all teams play each other four times. After each season the bottom team is relegated, with the winner of Esiliiga being promoted (unless it is a reserve team for a Meistriliiga team, in which case the next team receives automatic promotion) and the 2nd last team from Meistriliiga and the 2nd team from Esiliiga play a two-legged playoff to get into/stay in the Meistriliiga. The team that finishes as champions of the Meistriliiga qualifies for the 1st Qualifying Round of the UEFA Champions League, the 2nd team will play in the 1st Qualifying Round of the Europa Cup along with the winner of the Estonian Cup. Depending on the cup winner, a fourth team will enter the 1st round of the Europa Cup.

Previous Champions
1992 Norma Tallinn
1993 Norma Tallinn
1994 Flora Tallinn
1995 Flora Tallinn
1996 LMN Tallinn
1997 LMN Tallinn
1998 Flora Tallinn
1999 Levadia Tallinn
2000 Levadia Tallinn
2001 Flora Tallinn
2002 Flora Tallinn
2003 Flora Tallinn
2004 Levadia Tallinn
2005 TVMK Tallinn
2006 Levadia Tallinn
2007 Levadia Tallinn
2008 Levadia Tallinn
2009 Levadia Tallinn

Whilst Levadia won the title for the third consecutive time they were pushed close by Flora with each of them only losing one game all season (and both scoring over 100 goals in their 36 games).  The big story though was the enforced relegation of TMVK due to financial problems.

The cup was won in May 2009 by Flora who beat Nomme Kalju 4-3 on penalties.

Meistriliiga clubs 2009

Flora Tallinn – 2008 Cup winners, beating Maag Tammeka Tartu 3-1 in the final.  They are based in Tallinn who play at the national stadium – the Le Coq Arena which seats 9,300.  See below for details of the stadium.

Kalju Nomme –  based in Nomme and play at the Hiiu Staadion in Tallinn which holds 500 people.

Kalev Sillmae – based in Sillamae.  Play at the 2,000 seater Sillamae Kalevi Staadion.

Kalev Tallinn – based in Tallinn. They play at the Kalevi Keskstaadion which holds 12,000.  See below for details of the stadium.

Levadia Tallinn – based in Tallinn. They play at the Kadrioru Staadion which holds 4,750. See below for details of the stadium.

TVMK Tallinn – based in Tallinn. They play at the Kadrioru Staadion which holds 4,750. Click here for details of the stadium.

Maad Tammeka Tartu – New team based in 2nd city Tartu.  They play at the Tamme Stadion which holds 2,000 people.

Trans Narva – Small team based in Narva.  They play in the 3,000 seater Narva Kreenholmi Staadion.

Tulevik Viljandi – Small club who play in the town of Viljandi.  Their home stadium is the 2,500 capacity Linnastaadion.

Vaprus Parnu – Finished 8th in their first ever top flight season.  They are based in the small town of Parnu and play their home games at the Parnu Kalevi Staadion which holds 3,000 people.

For more information on Estonian football go to About a Ball.

FOOTBALL IN TALLINN

Tallinn – The Stadium – The Le Coq Arena – Capacity:   9,300 All Seater

The Stadium – The Le Coq Arena
Asula 4c, Tallinn
Fans of Scunthorpe United, Walsall and AFC Bournemouth will feel really at home in the new Le Coq Arena in Tallinn.  Just to underline the importance of football to the Estonian’s it was felt that such as small stadium was more than adequate for the national team’s purposes.

FC Flora Tallinn who play their home games here struggle to get crowds over 1,000 and so the arrival of McClaren and the rest of the England team will see the first time the stadium has been stretched to capacity.  The stadium is an excellent venue to watch football on a long summer’s night, as it will be when England play Estonia in June 2007.  The sight lines and leg room are excellent, each stand has a large bar and refreshments area and the roof offers protection from the occasional Estonian rain shower.

The two side stands are identical – resplendent in their green seats.  Both are two tier with the lower tier much larger than the upper one.  The concertina-style roof is also unusual as it sits quite away above the final row of seats.  The end stands are set above the action on the pitch by 8 feet, which may allow an additional 1,000 seats to be installed in the stadium when the England game is played next year.  The hardcore Estonian fans, if you can call them that, will be located in the lower tier of the south stand.

Who Plays There?
FC Flora are the biggest sporting club in Estonia, and have a history in Estonian football to match it.  Since the team was formed in 1990, the club won back to back titles in 1994 and 1995, and then a further six titles up until 2003.  They have also won the Estonian Cup on two occasions.  Last season’s 4th place finish was the first time ever they had finished outside of European qualification.  This season they are too far behind Trans and Levadia to make an impact on the title.  In terms of European pedigree they have recorded 3 wins in 28 matches.  The club has two famous past players – Mart Poom, who is now reserve goalkeeper at Arsenal and still the countries number 1, and Jonatan Johansson who played for Charlton Athletic and Glasgow Rangers.

How to get to the Le Coq Arena
The stadium is located in the southwest of the city, just outside the main ring road.  On a nice sunny day the stadium is easily walk able from the city centre in around 30 minutes.  The new stadium is located next to the main railway line, which causes a small logistical problem.  You have two options for reaching the stadium by foot.  The shortest way is to head south along the Parnu Mnt main road until you reach the elevated bridge over the railway line.  At this point, head down the steps on either side of the road and turn right into the residential road.  Follow this for approx 500 yards and then you will see a tunnel (see left) that is more a kin to something you will find in Lord of the Rings.

Despite being dark, dank and only 4ft high, this magical tunnel opens up on the far side to the away end car park of the magnificent Le Coq Arena, yards from the turnstiles.

The other option is to carry on over the bridge across the railway and turn right into the access road which takes you to the stadium – which is a 5-10 minute walk longer.  Tram number 3 runs down Parnu Mnt from the town to the stadium entrance road every 20 minutes, and takes less than 10 minutes.  A taxi should cost less than £5.

For a more detailed view as to who plays where in Tallinn go to Footiemap.com to access their map of football in Tallinn.

How to get a ticket for the Le Coq Arena
Assuming you are in town for a league match, then simply head down to the stadium on a match day and buy a ticket from the table on the corner of the south east stand.  For a mere 30EEK you will get a ticket for the main stand and a programme.  If you want to sit with the dozen or so hardcore fans in the south stand then a ticket costs 5EEK less.

Around the Le Coq Arena
The brand new stadium sits on an old area of wasteland to the south of the city centre, and has very little around it.  As the city centre offers so much in terms of hospitality it is much better to stick here until 30 mins before kick off before heading down.

TVMK Tallinn – The Kadrioru Stadium – Capacity: 4,700 All Seater

The 2005 League champions have had a very successful few seasons, pushing out FC Flora from the nation’s top spot.  They have also reached 3 of the last four Estonian Cup finals, winning the title by beating FC Flora on penalties in 2003.  As with most performances in Europe, TVMK could not progress past the first qualifying round, losing to Hafnarfjördur of Iceland.  TVMK Tallinn play their games at the modest 4,000 seater Kadriou Stadium in the east of the city.

FC Levadia Tallinn
FC Levadia’s rise from nothing to the nation’s biggest team in less than 7 years.  They have recently made headlines back in Estonia after drawing Newcastle United in the UEFA Cup 1st round.  The team put up a credible performance in both legs, losing 3-1 on aggregate.  The team were formed in 1999, and won the league in their first season.  They have gone on to win the title on two more occasions in 2000 and 2004 as well as being in pole position this year as the season begins its final games in October.

The Kadrioru is home to both TVMK and the current stars of Estonian football, Levadia.  It is a very basic ground set in some nice parkland on the east side of the city.  It is primarily an athletics track with one main covered stand offering basic facilities.  On the other side of the pitch is a 4 row temporary stand that runs from corner to corner but is uncovered.  Based on the normally chilly weather in Tallinn it may be worth avoiding this stand.  Behind the south stand there are a number of benches where in the summer you can sit and watch the game from.

How to get to the Kadrioru Stadium
The stadium is located a ten minute walk outside of the old town.  Follow the main road Gonsiori east out of the city until you reach the junction with Laagna Tee.  The stadium is on the left behind the trees.

For a more detailed view as to who plays where in Tallinn go to Footiemap.com to access their map of football in Tallinn.

How to get a ticket for the Kadrioru Stadium
With average crowds in Estonian football in the hundreds, tickets are never sold in advance.  Instead buy a ticket and a programme from the windows at the one and only gate open in the east corner of the stadium.  Entry is 3EEK and you can sit anywhere in the stadium.

Around The Kadrioru Stadium
The Kadrioru is located in parkland to the east of the city.  It is so basic that it doesn’t have any refreshment facilities within the ground.  There are no options for food or drink within a five minute walk of the stadium so its best to stick to the city centre.

JK Tallinna Kalev – Kalev Stadion – Capacity: 12,000

After a few seasons out of the top division, JK Tallinna are now pushing for promotion back to the big time this season.  With a few games left they sit comfortably in second place behind FC Levadia II.  Kalev play at the Kalev stadium in the south east of the city, which also happens to be the biggest stadium in Estonia at 12,000 seats.  The stadium is in a natural bowl with two big terraces built into the curves.  Seats are of the wooden bench variety.

To reach the stadium head of out the city in a south easterly direction on Tartu Mnt.  Follow signs for the sports centre, and when you reach the Renault garage on your right hand side, walk up the side and through the gates for the stadium.

For a more detailed view as to who plays where in Tallinn go to Footiemap.com to access their map of football in Tallinn.

Nearest Airport – Ůlemsite Airport (TLL)
Telephone:              +372 6 05 88 88
Website:                  http://www.tallinn-airport.ee

Located on the shores of Lake Ůlemiste, and just 4km from the city centre, Tallinn Airport continues to grow as more airlines start opening routes to Estonia.  The airport is very small with one terminal, a small café and a couple of shops.  The airport is served byEasyjet from London Stansted, and Estonian Air from London Gatwick.

To reach the city centre catch bus number 2 that leaves from outside the terminal building. A single fare costs 15EEK and travels to the downtown bus terminal outside the Kaubamaja department store.  The journey takes around 15 minutes.

You can also reach Tallinn from Helsinki via Helicopter or Fast Ferry.  The journey is run byhttp://www.copterline.com and takes around 15 minutes although it is not cheap.  The Ferry is run by Tallink (http://www.tallink.fi) and costs €49 return for the 100 minute journey.

Click here to buy the full guide to Tallinn.

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