The Danish Super League is the current Danish football tournament and is managed by the Danish Football Association. It is the highest football league in Denmark and is currently contested by 14 teams a year, with 1 to 3 teams descending.
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Founded in 1991, the Danish Super League replaced the Danish 1st League as the highest football league in Denmark. Since the start in 1991, 10 teams participated. The opening season of the Super League was held in the spring of 1991, the ten teams played twice for the championship against each other. From summer 1991, the tournament structure would extend over two years. The 10 teams played twice in the first half of the tournament. The following spring, the bottom two teams would be cut off, the points shared by the teams in half and the remaining eight teams would play twice again, a total of 32 games in one season.
This practice was abandoned before the 1995/96 season, when the number of participating teams was increased to 12, who played three times per super league season for 33 games against each other. For the first season of this new structure, Coca-Cola became the name sponsor of the league, which was then referred to as Coca-Cola Ligaen. After a single season under that name, Faxe Brewery became sponsor and the league changed its name to Faxe Kondi Ligaen. Prior to the 2001-02 season, Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) became the main sponsor and the name of the tournament changed to SAS Ligaen. As of January 2015, the Danish Super League is called Alka Superliga, as the Danish insurance company Alka became name sponsor.
From 1996 to 2016, the league consisted of 12 clubs that played three times against each other. The two teams with the fewest points at the end of the season descended into the Danish 1st League and were replaced by the two best teams in this league. During this time each team played at least once at home and once away and once again at home or away against any other team. The six best teams last season played 17 home and 16 away games, while the teams in 7th to 10th place and the two newly promoted teams played 16 home and 17 away games.
After the 2015/16 season, the league was expanded to 14 teams by only the last place this season relegated and promoted the top three teams in the first league. The season 2016/17 was the first for the new league structure. It began with the teams playing a full home and away schedule, resulting in 26 games for each team. At that time, the league divided into a playoff with six teams and a qualifying playoff with eight teams. The league points and goals of all teams go completely into the playoffs.
In the championship playoffs, each team plays the other at home and away again. The top team at the end of the playoff is Superleague champion and enters the Champions League in the second qualifying round. The second-placed team will join the Europa League in the first qualifying round. The third-ranked team will rise to a unique playoff game for another place in the Europa League. If the winner of the Danish Cup lands in the top 3, instead of the fourth-placed team will participate in the game.
The qualifying playoff is divided into two groups, with the teams finishing the regular season in places 7, 10, 11 and 14 in one group and 8, 9, 12 and 13 in the other. Each group plays at home and abroad in their group. The two best teams of each group then participate in a KO tournament, where each game takes place over two rounds. If the Danish Cup winner is among the top two in one of the two playoff groups, he will be withdrawn from the knockout playoff and his opponent will automatically advance to the tournament final. The winner of this tournament will face the team in a single match with the third (or fourth) place in the championship playoffs. The winner enters the Europa League in the first qualifying round.
The bottom two teams in each group will then play a multi-step relegation playoff based on a separate knockout round of sixteen and also made up entirely of bipedal games:
The third-placed teams of each group play on two legs. The winners remain in the Super League, and the losers reach a play-off final against the third-placed team in the first league.
The lowest teams of each group play on two legs. The winners reach a play-off final against the second-placed team from the first league and the losers fall into the first league next season.
The winners of each play-off final in the next season's Superleague.
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