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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 5th June 2023 - dates are now available for next season's top four Divisions

Background to the setup in Portuguese football

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 Bwin - 18 teams - Benfica, Porto, Sporting etc as well as Portimonense and Farense from the Algarve
  2. Liga Sabseg - Segunda Liga 18 teams. The Algarve will not be represented next season
  3. Liga 3 - two regional divisions of 12 teams, played in two phases
  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/

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 event involving around 40 teams took place on 17th and 18th April 2023 at Ferreiras FC, just outside Albufeira. This event will be held again in April 2024. Contact us EARLY as the 2023 event was almost fully subscribed.

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.



With the exception of the Farense, Portimonense and Olhanense 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 Bwin (Primeira Liga) - eighteen teams

Season 2023 - 2024 will begin on the weekend of 12th / 13th August 2023 and end on 19th May 2024.

Fixtures will be published mid July. 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 sparse crowds and 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.

Portimonense (the team based in Portimão) play in.the top Division, the Liga Bwin. They finished the season 15th of 18 teams

A bit about their ground. 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 this season was 1,945 a little over a third full or nearly two thirds empty depending on now you look at it. There is little or no chance of a ticket when they play the big three teams i.e. Benfica, Sporting CP and Porto. Members of home and away clubs get priority.

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, given TV schedules, many games are played at times not allowing journeys by train or bus.

Farense, the team of Faro, play in the renovated city centre São Luis stadium, which has a capacity of about 9,000.  They finished second in the Second League, winning promotion.

Average attendance last season was 3,468, boosted by several crowds of 5,000+ in the closing weeks of the season. Ground capacity is limited to about 6,500. This in a league where 11 of the 18 teams averaged less than 1,000 spectators per game.

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 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 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 - 18 teams

There will be no Algarve teams at this level next season. 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.

The first round of the cup is scheduled for the weekend of 9th / 10th September and will involve teams outside the top two divisions.

The League Cup (Taça Allianz) is played by the Liga BWin and Segunda Liga teams only. The top teams are obliged to play a majority of Under-23 players.  Next season's tournament will begin ion the weekend of 22nd / 23rd July.

Liga 3 (Third Tier)


There will be no Algarve teams at this level next 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 - fourteen teams

Season 2023 - 2024 will begin on the 20th August, with the first phase ending on 7th April. Several weekends with no matches therefore! Various playoffs to dtermine promotion and relegation will extend the season for some teams until 9th June.

Matches are normally played on Sunday afternoons at 3pm / 1500hrs but later in April, May and June. The Algarve will have three teams involved, Imortal DAC (Albufeira), Louletano (Loulé) and Moncarapachense.

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. For Imortal's results and fixtures click here.

Moncarapachense were playing home matches last season in the Olhão José Arcanjo stadium, also used by Olhanense. It is not known whether this arrangement will be in place for next season. Their own ground is tiny and  was deemed unsuitable for their status last season. If they do go back to their home ground, there is NO public transport of any kind available to get there and back on weekend afternoons.

Louletano play their home games in the 26,000 seat Algarve Stadium. This easily accommodated their average crowd of 150 last season. There might be a few more next time! 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 even rarer.


The Algarve League

The Algarve League First Division season runs from late September until late May. Dates for 2023 - 20224 to be confirmed

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.

Lagos, Olhanense and Ferreiras were relegated from the Campeonato de Portugal and will join the Algarve League next season.

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

Olhanense play at the  Estadio José Arcanjo in Olhão. This is near the centre of town, not far from the main N125 road and McDonald's. The tall floodlights can be seen from a long distance. There is little cover from the elements on one side, none at all on the other. There is a car park outside and street parking a few minutes walk away.  They do have a small number of resident British fans who meet before the game in a bar opposite the main entrance.

Unofficial website only in Portuguese is http://www.olhanense.net/

Fe
rreiras
play in their neat ground in the centre of the village, 4km from Albufeira and easily accessible 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.

First Division -  teams last season

Louletano won the league easily and were promoted to the Campeonato de Portugal. The two teams based in Almancil will probable be relegated. Paderne and Portimonense B will be promoted from the Second Division.

Odiáxere, Culatrense, Os 11 Esperanças (based in Faro), Lagoa, Guia, Internacional Almancil, Louletano, Lusitano VRSA, Quarteira SC, Quarteirense, Silves and Almancilense.

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

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

A problem is that kickoff times and even match dates are altered with as little as a week's warning. It is difficult therefore to keep up to date as none of the clubs has an official website and the FA website does not highlight any changes. So if I forget to look...

Fixtures (with kick-off times) can be seen at https://resultados.fpf.pt/Competition/GetCompetitionsByAssociation?associationId=224&seasonId=102   Reminder that ko times for more than 2 or 3 weeks ahead should be checked again as they are subject to change.

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

The Quarteira stadium, used by all three 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 buses from and back to Albufeira call at a stop about 5 minutes walk away. Map here.

Guia's ground is a little way to the north of the village centre, just off the road towards Algoz.

Second Division

The season runs from late September or early October until mid-May. 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 - last season the Second Division was split into two sections.  Paderne won the second phase playoff  and will be promoted. In second place were Portimonense B, who will probably join them. Relegated from the First Division will be the two teams based in Almancil.

One 'problem' with this division  is the number of teams that fold or are newly created. The actual composition of the Second Division probbaly won't be confirmed until early September.

Série Barlavento (west) last season

AEF João Moutinho (new team, playing at Estombar), Carvoeiro United (also playing at Estombar), Lagos B, Os Armacanenses, Bensafrim, Alvor, Portimonense B, Sport Algoz Benfica (new team, playing at Messines), Messinense.

Série Sotavento (east)

4 ao Cubo Olhão, Marítimo Olhanense, Campinense, Paderne, Quarteirense 1937, Farense B, Sport Faro Benfica, Sambrasense

There is still no team based in Tavira. It was very fragmented fixture list with some teams playing only every two or even three weeks.

Complete fixture list here, with a reminder than ko times more than about 3 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 Cup was won by Louletano, who beat Paderne 6-1 in the final. The first round is normally played early December and contains the only scheduled midweek matches for the lower leagues other than those rescheduled because of postponements.

English/Scottish football on TV

Many bars in the Algarve, especially those run by British people, have UK satellite dishes or internet streams. In the Algarve you will almost always be able to find somewhere showing the 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.

It is no longer simple for some bars to show matches screened on BT Sport, BBC, ITV etc. Most now have devised various internet based solutions of varying quality and quantity. Interruptions and complete breakdowns happen from time to time. Sky Sports channels are still available through satellite and usually trouble free.

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 various broadcast streams, notably Bein Sport also South African, US and Canadian channels, which show many English Premier League games with English commentary. Some have Irish channels. You can fairly easily 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. They finished second in the 'regular' season and are currently involved in play-offs for promotion. 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.

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 just two active senior teams, those of Guia FC and Ferreiras FC.

Nest season for the women will beign on 9th September. It does seem that Saturdays will be the preferred day for matches, but always check.

Guia will be in Campeonato Nacional II Divisão Feminino. I don't know in which competition Ferreiras will be playing.

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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