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FOOTBALL (Soccer) IN THE ALGARVE 2023/2024

These notes are to help those who would like to watch a live game while visiting the Algarve. I have been to many of the grounds myself.

Page updated 12th June 2024

Background to the setup in Portuguese football

THE 2023 - 2024 SEASON IS NEARING ITS COMPLETION. SEASON 2024 - 2025 WILL BEGIN IN MID-AUGUST FOR THE TOP TWO DIVISIONS, LATER FOR THE THIRD AND FOURTH TIERS. THE ALGARVE LEAGUE WILL NOT GET UNDER WAY UNTIL LATE SEPTEMBER.

This is the Portuguese football set-up in descending order for season 2023 - 2024. National Leagues consist of four tiers. Fifth and lower tiers, where they exist, are the regional leagues. Promotion and relegation operates between all tiers.

  1. Liga Betclic - 18 teams - Benfica, Porto, Sporting etc as well as Portimonense and Farense from the Algarve
  2. Liga Sabseg - Segunda Liga 18 teams.
  3. Liga 3 - two regional divisions of 12 teams, played in two phases. No Algarve teams at present.
  4. Campeonato de Portugal (Naçional Seniores) - Four regional divisions, semi professional. 12 - 14 teams in each, played in two phases.

This English language website http://www.portugoal.net/ covers the top level and national team.

Another good website, with areas in English and several other languages, is www.zerozero.pt which, among a lot of information has results, league tables and fixtures for all levels of the game in Portugal.

There is only one website specifically for  Algarve football, the official Algarve FA website www.afalgarve.pt in Portuguese only, but easy enough to navigate and make sense of.

In Portugal, there is little or no recreational or 'park' football as we know it in the UK. Most organised football is played on enclosed grounds with 'proper' referees and linesmen. There are also national and regional set-ups for U-19 etc type football. There are some unofficial veterans leagues.

You will be pleased to hear that admission charges are a lot less than in the UK for the comparable level of football. Tickets are readily available apart from, for example, Benfica v Sporting or Benfica v Porto. In most top level grounds and all those below that level you can pay on the day.

Very few games are usually scheduled over the weekend between the Christmas and New Year Holidays, or over the two weekends at all if those holidays fall on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. At Easter there are usually no matches on Easter Sunday, they are mostly played on the Saturday instead. Minor leagues do not have games at Easter.

There is virtually no midweek football (ie Tuesday or Wednesday) anywhere in Portugal below the top two Divisions.

Football tours to the Algarve

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Would you like a football tour to the Algarve? Algarve Football Tours can organise games at any level, from full professional down to veterans and school-aged teams.

The company deals with top level and semi-professional teams from Germany, Sweden, Norway etc during their winter break and also arranges pre-season training matches for top British and other clubs. Matches can be arranged against suitable local opposition and also on a tournament basis between visiting teams. Qualified referees are arranged for all matches and those at higher level will be provided with appropriate people from the Portuguese or Algarve Football Association lists.

Semi - professional clubs can also have suitable matches arranged pre-season against local opposition. All matches at such levels require official sanctions from the relevant Football Associations. AFT banner at Guia FC

For those at the lower levels of the game, we can organise end of season and pre- season tour games against local teams of ex-pats, short end-of-season tournaments between visiting teams, also trips for school age teams during the winter and Easter holidays.  Intending school aged teams should be aware that most weekday matches would be played in the evenings on 3G pitches under floodlights. We ensure that age appropriate match arrangements are in place.

It is not easy to organise anything in July and August as it is too hot. The local football season, apart from the top two divisions, ends in mid-May and resumes in late September.  Veteran's and school aged games are normally good until the end of June.

For smaller groups, we have access to 3G pitches with floodlights (and a bar adjacent!)  for five a side and seven a side matches, often in a short tournament format. The Algarve is regularly visited not only by teams from the UK but from Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the USA. A chance to meet different opposition!

Algarve Football Tours will make all the arrangements necessary to make your trip a successful event - except booking flights and the essential insurance! Hotels, transport to and from matches, training venues (if required) and other off the field and non football activities can be organised

Click the logo below to visit our website for more information, testimonials and contact details.

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Women's Football Tours to Portugal

algarve_women's_football_1As Women’s football gathers momentum and popularity, we are delighted to offer Portugal as a great destination for Women’s Football Tours offering bespoke packages including matches or tournaments. Throughout Portugal we have women's/girls teams providing ideal opposition for all levels, amateur to Semi Professional. Selected hotels offer full training facilities for the more serious, or we can create a tailor made package based in a lively resort to make a perfect football holiday.

We can create a tailor made package for your women’s and girl's football teams with hotels/accommodation to suit your requirements, training facilities and those all important matches or tournaments. In the  Algarve, Lisbon or Porto we have great conditions, venues and opposition choices to be sure your team has a great football experience in Portugal.

If your prefer your tour to be a more sociable event, you can be based in one of the Algarve’s lively resorts, to enjoy beautiful beaches, good restaurants and nightlife based around your football.

Women's Futsal tours with matches and tournaments can also be arranged. Algarve_women's_futsal

Futsal in Europe has a long history in the sport and Portugal is host some of the best players and teams. Take the chance to test your skills on the European stage. Our package of accommodation, training facilities and matches all set in a lively resort means you and your team can enjoy a great tour in the Algarve.

Please click here to make an enquiry for more information about football trips for women. See also http://futebolfemininoportugal.com/

MEN'S WALKING FOOTBALL

Strictly for the over 50's, we are now able to help you with visits and competitions for walking football teams. There are a growing number of active walking football teams in the Algarve. Contact us if you would like a one-off game or perhaps we can organise a small tournament. A full scale tournament involving around 50 teams held over two days will take place on 18th and 19th April 2025 at the stadium of Ferreiras FC, near Albufeira. This year's event was fully subscribed. Make contact early for the 2025 event! Other, smaller, tournaments may be held at other times.

WOMEN'S WALKING FOOTBALL

The first Women only tournament was held in March 2024 and was a great success. For women, the age brackets are 40+ and 55+. Tournaments for March 2025 are in the planning stage. Make contact early if you are interested - same as above for the men's.

This website will be of interest to visitors - https://walkingfootballalgarve.com/ not connected with us, this is the site of the East Algarve Walking Football club.

FOOTBALL GROUNDS USED IN THE ALGARVE

This map shows the various grounds used by the professional and semi-professional clubs based in the Algarve. Zoom in to see a more precise location, click the marker to see who plays there. Many towns have no active senior football clubs, hence the big gaps in the map!

The two marked in red are those of Portimonense and Farense, the two top level teams of the Algarve.

Those marked in yellow are, so far as I know, used only by junior age group teams. For interest I have marked, in grey, some of the grounds I know and that are now not used by anyone.  Click the square on the right hand side of the box to open the map.



With the exception of the Farense and Portimonense stadiums, which are the old fashioned city centre type, there is plenty of free parking at all grounds. Public transport is poor at weekends, with some places having none at all. For details, go to www.algarvebus.info/alpha.htm and find the place you wish to go to.


Liga Betclic (Primeira Liga) - eighteen teams

Season 2024 - 2025 will begin on 11th August 2024 and end on 18th May 2025, followed by any promotion / relegation playoffs.

Fixtures on the official website in English is https://www.ligaportugal.pt/en/homepage/

Games are scheduled for television purposes and are played over Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings. Very rarely does a team play at 3.30pm /1530 hrs on a Sunday afternoon, the 'default' time for kickoffs. ALL matches are shown live on TV, hence strange kick-off times and sparse crowds at many venues.

Dates and times of matches are confirmed four to six weeks in advance, except at the end of the season when certain games are ordered to be played at the same time, sometimes at less than a week's notice! Fixture dates and times can be found on the official League website which also has links to the club websites.

Farense, the team of Faro, play in the renovated city centre São Luis stadium, which has a present limited capacity of about 6,400  They finished second in the Second League, winning promotion. Average attendance last season was 4999, therefore about 3/4 full for most games, although the final two matches were almost sold out.

The stadium is located in a mainly residential area on the north side of the city near the large hospital, about 15 minutes walk from the railway and bus stations. Those familiar with many UK grounds will see it as 'traditional' i.e it is not miles out of town and only accessible by car. There is no cover from the elements on the non-members side of the stadium. Parking is very limited, avoid driving there if you can. Official website https://www.scfarense.pt/modalidades/futebol

They have fans web site page http://scfarense1910.blogspot.co.uk/ but the quality seems to vary from week to week. It's only in Portuguese despite the UK web address.

The Lisbon based teams of Benfica and Sporting are about 3 to 4 hours drive from the Algarve (depending on where you are) or between 4 and 5 hours overall by bus or train. That includes the time spent in the city getting to the ground. It is impossible to travel to and from their games by train unless staying overnight. If going by coach (bus to non UK readers) you will have a long wait (until 0100) before your return journey! ALL top flight matches are shown live on TV and are therefore mostly played in the evenings, sometimes kicking off as late as 21.15hrs even on Sundays.

Apart from games involving the 'big three' of Benfica, Sporting and Porto and the honourable exceptions of Braga and Guimarães, crowds even in the top division of our national league often number less than 5,000. The latest statistics show that only those five had average crowds in excess of 10,000.

Liga Portugal 2 - Liga SABSEG - eighteen teams


Season 2024 - 2025 will begin on 11th August 2024 and end on 18th May 2025, followed by any promotion / relegation playoffs.

Portimonense (the team based in Portimão) will play next season in the Liga Sabseg, the second division. They were relegated from the top tier after two playoff matches. They play in Portimão's city centre municipal stadium, a short walk from buses and trains. It is an 'old fashioned' ground in that there are steep terraces close to the pitch and no running track etc around it. To be honest it would barely pass muster in the UK National League (5th tier) let alone the top division of a national competition. Spectator facilities are minimal, there are few toilets, one portable bar on the non-members side, no match day programmes etc.

Their website is www.portimonense.pt - it is only in Portuguese. The stadium holds about 5,500. If it's looking like rain, be aware that the entire stadium, apart from the executive area, has no roof cover. Average attendance last season was 2347.  Next season they will be lucky to get half that, so fickle are the fans.

Note for visitors - children under 6 years old are not allowed in. The price of tickets will be €10 - 15 in non-members areas. Tickets are not sold on websites etc except for the big games. Ticket office opens two hours before kick-off. There are cafés and bars in the surrounding area in which to wait. There is NOTHING inside the ground in the way of spectator amenities before the game starts.

There is a fairly large free car park outside, which does get full as it also serves two large apartment blocks. There are other places to park nearby. For those coming by bus, the ground is 4 minutes walk from the main bus stop area on Avenida Guanaré. The railway station is about 15 minutes walk. However  many games are played at times not allowing journeys by train or bus.

Official website for fixtures and results in English is https://www.ligaportugal.pt/en/homepage/

Portuguese FA Cup/ League Cup

The Portuguese FA Cup is open to all teams in the National setup, including those in Madeira and the Azores. Almost all games are played at the weekend, as the leagues mostly consist of between 12 and 16 teams, thus creating plenty of spare dates. The only regional teams allowed to enter are, generally, the league runner's up and the regional cup winners. The fixtures can be found at www.zerozero.pt but kickoff times are harder to find and will have to be checked locally or at the Portugal FA website www.fpf.pt.

The League Cup (Taça Allianz) will next season be, in effect, by invitation only, to the top six of the Liga Betclic plus the two teams who finished top of the Liga Sabseg. So our local teams will not be involved.

Liga 3 (Third Tier)


There are no Algarve teams at this level this season. Official website for fixtures and results will be https://resultados.fpf.pt/Competition/Details?competitionId=21481&seasonId=103  Matches are usually on Sunday afternoons.

Campeonato de Portugal - fourth tier - split into four geographical groups each of 14 teams

Season 2024 - 2025 will start on the 18th August 2024, with the second phase phase ending on 18th May 2025. There were therefore be several weekends with no matches! Various playoffs to determine championship, promotion and relegation will extend the season for some teams until early June. The second phase involving the top two teams from each of the four sections began on 21st April. For fixtures, when available, go to https://resultados.fpf.pt/Competition/Details?competitionId=19509&seasonId=104.

Matches are normally played on Sunday afternoons at 3pm / 1500hrs but later in August, April, May and June. 

The Algarve will have three teams involved, Lagoa, Louletano (Loulé) and Moncarapachense.

Lagoa play at the Estádio Capitão Josino da Costa, in the town centre about 5 minutes walk from the bus station. There is plenty of parking nearby.

Moncarapachense
play at their own tiny ground in the village of Moncarapacho. Be advised that there is no bus service at weekends to get to or from any game. You must drive or find some other form of transport.

Louletano play most of their home games in the 26,000 seat Algarve Stadium. This easily accommodates their average crowd of 150. Getting there on a weekend afternoon is not easy. There is a railway station (Parque das Cidades) about 15 minutes walk away, but trains are infrequent. The nearest bus stop is even further and buses at the weekend are extremely rare.

The Algarve League

The Algarve League First Division season will begin late in September.

This is a semi-professional league, roughly the equivalent of a good English county FA league. Matches are normally played on Saturday afternoons, although some games are at different times because of ground sharing. In May and June, games will be kicking off normally at 1700hrs  / 5pm

Lagos play in an open air stadium just outside the town centre, about 10 minutes walk from the bus and railway stations.

Imortal (Albufeira) play in the Municipal Stadium about 1km outside the town centre. Location Map here. Easy access from around town and elsewhere by bus. Some stop outside or the main bus station is 5 minutes walk. There is a large free car park. For Imortal's results and fixtures click here.

Olhanense - were relegated from the national leagues and have since folded and re-formed. The new club played iast season n the Algarve League Second Division, the very lowest level.  They won it fairly easily and will be in the first division next season. Their stadium Estádio José Arcanjo is close to the town centre, about 10 minutes walk from railway and bus stations. Parking is available nearby for those who drive. Unofficial website only in Portuguese is http://www.olhanense.net/

Ferreiras play in their neat ground in the centre of the village, 4km from Albufeira and easily accessible from there by local buses. There is a bus stop 200 metres from the ground. The railway station called Albufeira - Ferreiras is about 1km away - 10 minutes or so to walk and it is flat. There is a fairly large car park.

The Quarteira stadium, used by both teams based there, is a bleak all-purpose municipal facility on the border between Vilamoura and Quarteira.  Some matches are played on 'pitch 2' which is the small ground with a synthetic grass surface next to the bigger ground with tall floodlights. It's only 6 or 7 minutes walk from the McDonald's in Vilamoura. The very infrequent weekend buses from and back to Albufeira call at a stop about 5 minutes walk away. Map here.

First Division

If the format is the same as last season, the 12 clubs will play two phases. Each will play the others twice, home and away, thus 22 games. The league would then split into two sections.The top six will be playing for the championship and promotion to the Campeonato de Portugal. The bottom six are playing to avoid relegation.

Algarve League First Division games are played on SATURDAYS normally at 1500hrs / 3pm (later in April, May and June) but as before fixtures can change, often at short notice. Best check locally if you can. Some kick-off times are changed because of ground sharing.

The Algarve FA website usually publishes changes to the fixture lists with confirmed kickoff times on the MONDAY prior to the weekend concerned. The local press does not usually list kick-off times in their information.

A problem is that kickoff times and even match dates may be altered with as little as a week's warning. It is difficult therefore to keep up to date as few of the clubs have an official website and the FA website does not highlight any changes. So if I forget to look...

Fixtures (with kick-off times) will be seen here  Reminder that ko times for more than 2 or 3 weeks ahead should be checked again as they are subject to change.

I will list all fixtures with kick-off times each Monday or Tuesday at www.albufeira.com/forum

Second Division - split into two small sections, Barlavento (west) and Sotavento (east)

The Algarve League Second Division Season will probably not begin until the first weekend of October.

The default kickoff time is 1800hrs / 6pm on Saturdays, but many games are at earlier or later times because of ground sharing. Check carefully.

Teams next season?

Always a matter of teams folding, new teams springing up and adjustments to keep the two divisions of a sensible size. Thee are last season's line-ups. I will update as soon as information is available, which may not be until August. Carvoeiro United finished bottom of Division One and will be relegated. If two teams go down, they will be joined by Paderne.

Série Barlavento (west) - Alvor, Bensafrim, Ferreiras B, Guia, Imortal B, Lagoa, Mentes Desporto (translates roughly as Sporting Minds!),  Messinense, Odiáxere B, Os Armacancenses. Mentes Desporto are a resurrected team and share the ground at Estombar with Carvoeiro United.

Guia's ground is a little way to the north of the village centre, just off the road towards Algoz. A neat traditional little ground, no running track to spoil the view.

Série Sotavento (east)

4 ao Cubo Olhão, Marítimo Olhanense, Campinense, Louletano B, Moncarapachense B, Olhanense 1912 (ptomoted, so next season in Division One, Quarteirense SC, Sport Faro Benfica, Sambrasense (based in São Bras de Alportel)

There is still no team based in Tavira. Complete fixture list is here, with a reminder than ko times more than about 2 weeks ahead need to be checked.

Algarve Cup

The Algarve Cup is the regional cup competition and most teams enter, including those in the national Leagues. Last season's final between Ferreiras and Moncarapachense took place at Albufeira Municipal Stadium on Wednesday 10th April, ko 2030hrs. Moncarpachense were victorious.

English/Scottish football on TV

Many bars in the Algarve, especially those run by British people, have access to UK sports channels via 'illegal' internet streams. In the Algarve you will almost always be able to find somewhere showing English football. Some bars will also show Scottish games, but you may have to look rather harder!

If you are coming to the Albufeira area and need to know a good bar in which to watch a game near where you are staying, go to www.albufeira.com/forum and ask there for a recommendation.

Portugal's Eleven Sport subscription channels show English Premier League matches each weekend and during midweek, including the 3pm Saturday matches not normally available to UK viewers. English language commentary is not available. Another subscription service, SportTV, shows FA Cup and League Cup matches. Very occasionally there will be a match on free to air channels, particularly if a Portuguese team is playing in Europe.

Many bars in tourist areas (ie the Algarve) have access to other broadcast streams, including Irish channels, Bein Sport also South African, US and Canadian channels, which show many English Premier League games with English commentary. You can find bars showing three games at the same time on a Saturday afternoon.

Portugal's SportTV (subscription channel) also shows live US Major League, Dutch, Italian, French, German and Spanish games fairly regularly. You may also get Brazilian games late at night.

Spanish Football?

If you have a car while you are here, you might be able to get over to Huelva or Seville. Seville play in the Spanish First Division (La Liga) of course as do the other team in Seville, Real Betis.

The local team just across the border in Huelva, called Recreativo, are in the Segunda Federacíon, in effect the regionalised fourth division. Their website is https://recreativohuelva.com/  and they are the oldest football club in Spain it says. League website is https://rfef.es/es/competiciones/segunda-federacion

You can get fixtures from an English Language website at www.soccer-spain.com; which also has information about kickoff times and ticket sales generally. Beware that in Spain, many games are scheduled for TV purposes only a few days in advance of the weekend concerned.  Tickets are therefore not normally available until a few days beforehand. Some games kick off as late as 10.15pm / 22.15hrs

The city of Seville is easily accessible from the Algarve by car, but there are no trains and by bus it is fairly hard work with very few buses running in winter. A trip out and back in one day almost impossible! Click here for public transport information Algarve - Seville.

Women's Football

Very little women's 11-a-side football in played in the Algarve. The whole Algarve Region has recently had just two active senior teams, those of Guia FC and Ferreiras FC. However I have learned that Olhanense are to form a women's team for season 2024 - 2025.

The season for the women will begin early in September and will end in late May, the exact date depending on success or otherwise in various playoffs . It does seem that Sunday afternoons is the preferred time for matches, but always check.

Guia came runner-up in the National third division and may gain promotion to the second division. Ferreiras play in the fourth division.

Fixtures can be found at https://www.fpf.pt/pt/ - click MENU on the top right , then Futebol Feminino then the required competition.

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