England II Division

Second Division. The top two teams directly promoted, the next 4 contested the last promotion in the play-offs, the last 3 in the league – relegated. Chelsea had fantastic season, completely dominating the championship. Leeds United misery apparently was endless. Perhaps the most remarkable moment of the season happened on March 27, 1989, when the referee Kevin Morton called 5 penalties in 27 minutes in the match between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion – Palace missed 3 of their 4 penalties, Brighton scored their one, but still lost the game 1-2.
Walsall took the last place with 31 points and was relegated.
Birmingham City – 23rd with 35 points and down to Third Division.
Shrewsbury Town – 22nd with 42 points and relegated.
Hull City – 21st with 47 points.
Portsmouth – 20th with 51 points.
Brighton & Hove Albion – 19th with 51 points.
Plymouth Argyle – 18th with 54 points.
Oxford United – 17th with 54 points.
Oldham Athletic – 16th with 54 points.
Leicester City – 15th with 55 points.
Bradford City – 14th with 56 points.
Stoke City – 13th with 59 points.
Bournemouth – 12th with 62 points.
Sunderland – 11th with 63 points.
Leeds United – 10th with 67 points.
West Bromwich Albion – 9th with 72 points.
Ipswich Town – 8th with 73 points.
Barnsley – 7th with 74 points.
Swindon Town – 6th with 76 points and going to promotion play-offs.
Blackburn Rovers – 5th with 77 points and going to promotion play-offs.
Watford – 4th with 78 points and to the promotion play-offs.
Crystal Palace – 3rd with 81 points. Missed direct promotion by a point, but still had a chance to go up at the promotion play-offs.
Manchester City – 2nd with 82 points. Fought well and gained direct promotion back to First Division.
Chelsea – had fantastic season leaving the whole league far behind. They won the championship with 99 points from 29 wins, 12 ties, 5 losses, and 96-50 goal-difference and went up to the top league. Once again…
In the promotion play-offs Swindon Town lost to Crystal Palace 1-0 and 0-2 and Watford to Blackburn Rovers 0-1 and 0-1. Then Blackburn Rovers looked like getting the upper hand by beating Crystal Palace 3-1 in the first leg of the final. But Crystal Palace came back and with clean 3-0 win the second leg clinched the last promotion.
Steve Coppell did good job rebuilding Crystal Palace and the result was promotion top First Division. Nice.
But this season belonged to Chelsea – hoping to continue their way up in the next season.

England III Division

III Division. The top two teams – directly promoted, the next 4 – to play-offs for thelast promotion, the last 4 – relegated.
Aldershot – last and relegated with 37 points.
Gillingham – 23rd with 40 points and relegated.
Chesterfield – 22nd with 49 points and relegated.
Southend United – 21st with 54 and relegated. Unfortunately, on goal-difference.
Northampton Town – 20th with 54 points. Survived on better goal-difference.
Blackpool – 19th with 55 points.
Reading – 18th with 56 points.
Wigan Athletic – 17th with 56 points.
Cardiff City – 16th with 57 points.
Mansfield Town – 15th with 59 points. Back row: Place, Anderson, Coleman, Pearcey, Beasley, Cox, Kearney, Kenworthy, Hodges
Middle row: Williams, Garner, Chambers, Pettit (Physio), Dearden (Coach), Greaves (manager), Jarman (Asst Manager), Charles, Cassells, Brogan
Front row: Price, Graham, Lowery, Foster, Kent, Owen, Stringfellow, Ryan, McKernon
Seated on ground: Bircumshaw, Clarke, Elkington, Gray, Hood, Ellerton, Reddish, Milner, Parker
Huddersfield Town – 14th with 60 points. (Back) Kirkham, Trevitt, France, Hardwick, Mitchell, Martin, O’Doherty, Brown, Winter
(Middle) McAllister (physio), Cork, Marsden, Maskell, May, Withe (Ass. coach), Chapman, O’Regan, Shelton, Bent, Mann (youth coach)
(Front) Maddrick, Hutchings, Tucker, Ward, Hand (manager), Shotton, Barham, Bray and Holmes.
Bury – 13th with 61 points.
Swansea City – 12th with 61points.
Bristol City – 11th with 63 points.
Bolton Wanderers – 10th with 64 points.
Notts County – 9th with 67 points. Back row: Machin, Fairclough, Atkin, Leonard, Davison, Norton, Draper, Johnson
Middle row: Barnwell(Manager), Walker(Coach), Law, Yates, Smalley, Lund, Jackson, Kevan, Hart(Youth), Newman(Asst.Man)
Front row: Withe, McParland, McStay, Birtles, Pike, O’Riordan, Mills, Thorpe

Chester City – 8th with 68 points.
Brentford – 7th with 68 points.
Preston North End – 6th with 72 points and qualified for promotion play-offs.

Bristol Rovers – 5th with 74 points and going to promotion play-offs.

Fulham – 4th with 75 points and going to promotion play-offs.
Port Vale – 3rd and going to promotion play-offs.
Sheffield United – 2nd with 84 points and directly promoted to II Division. Clinched promotion on better goal-difference.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – league champions with 92 points from 26 wins, 14 ties, 6 losses, and 96-49 goal-difference. Strong and confident victory. Looked like full revival of the club was in progress – it was their second promotion in two years.
Promotion play-offs: Preston North End lost to Port Vale 1-1 and 1-3. Fulham was eliminated by Bristol Rovers 0-1 and 0-4. At the final Port Vale got the upper hand over Bristol Rovers – 1-1 and 1-0.
Port Vale earned the last promotion this season. As they were the least famous club among the promoted teams, it was wonderful success for them.
And the champions again – the Wolves dominated the championship and climbed up. Their prolific striker Steve Bull was the first player to reach the 50-goal mark in two consecutive season. May be they would be going even higher and back to top flight? Let keep fingers crossed.

England IV Division

IV Division. The first 3 teams directly promoted to III Division, teams 4-7 going to promotion play-offs, the winner promoted to III Division, the last – relegated to Football Conference.
Darlington finished last with 42 points and went down.
Doncaster Rovers – 23rd with 49 points.
Colchester United – 22nd with 50 points.
Halifax Town – 21st with 50 points.
Stockport County – 20th with 51 points. Asa Hartford failed as a player-manager and was replaced by already mentioned Danny Bergara. The Uruguayan eventually saved Stockport from relegation.
Hartlepool United – 19th with 52 points.
Rochdale – 18th with 53 points.
Peterborough United – 17th with 54 points.
Burnley – 16th with 55 points.
Hereford United – 15th with 58 points.
Torquay United – 14th with 59 points.
Exeter City- 13th with 60 points.
Carlisle United – 12th with 60 points.
York City – 11th with 64 points.
Lincoln City, just returning to their familiar division after brief exile in Football Conference, finished 10th with 64 points.
Grimsby Town – 9th with 66 points.
Cambridge United – 8th with 68 points.
Wrexham – 7th with 71 points and going to promotion play-offs.
Leyton Orient – 6th with 75 points and going to promotion play-offs.
Scarborough – 5th with 77 points and going to promotion play-offs.
Scunthorpe United – 4th with 77 points and going to promotion play-offs.
Crewe Alexandra – 3rd with 78 points and promoted to III Division. There were more than 20 years they played nothing but IV Division football, so this season was a great success.
Tranmere Rovers – 2nd with 80 points and promoted up.
Rotherham United – 1st with 82 points from 22 wins, 16 ties, 8 losses and 76-35 goal-difference. Jolly millers, indeed – they were just relegated from III Division and managed instant return.
The last promotion was contested in cup format direct eliminations. Scunthorpe lost to Wrexham 1-3 and 0-2 and Scarborough to Leyton Orient 1-0 and 0-2. In the final Leyton Orient prevailed over Wrexham 0-0 and 2-1.
Leyton Orient earned promotion to III Division, which was a great triumph for them.

England Non-League

England – ranked 9th, although still banished from European tournaments. UEFA voted to ban English clubs for a fifth year. The season was overshadowed by the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April 1989, resulting in the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans and more 300 injured. The tragedy led to the reforms, eventually spread around the world during the 1990s – stadiums were no longer to have standing sections. And new stadiums were going to replace the ‘classic’ ones. Meantime there was another important change: football on television. ITV got gained exclusive rights to show Football League matches for over 11 million pounds – a sharp increase of the previous deal of 1983,which was a bit over 5 million. TV money were going to drive football up – or down – in the future. As for the season itself , it may not have been among the greatest, but certainly was most dramatic – the race for the title was decided by more goals scored! Everything else between the 2 challengers was the same. Also, the promotion play-offs were reorganized – one promotion spot was contested between the 4 finishers bellow the top 2 in the lower leagues. For the first in the history of English football a foreign manager appeared – the 46-years old Uruguayan Danny Bergara was hired to coach Rochdale in the IV Division. He managed to coach 2 teams actually, for later in the season went to Stockport County.
Non-league football – the name remained, but this structure was already amalgamated with the professional league system. For a third year already there was relegation and promotion between the IV Division and the top non-league championship, Football Conference. The last in the IV Division went down and the Conference champion went up. Newly relegated Newport County went out of business 27 February 1989 and was expelled from the Conference for failing to fulfill their fixtures. However, three months later the club was reformed – but had to play lower division (effectively, the 6th level) the next season. As for Non-league football, it had 4-league system, effectively semi-professional – that is, levels 5th to 8th. Here is a glimpse of the non-league football:
Barrow – had excellent season, winning the Northern Premier League.
Sutton United – had a good run in the FA Cup this season.
Kidderminster Harriers – perhaps the best known semiprofessional club abroad – had a relatively good season in Conference, but unable to win the championship.
The 24-team Conference had its champion promoted to the professional IV Division.
Maidstone United won Conference and was happy to be promoted to professional football. Third row from left: Tony Sorrell, Paul Collins, Jesse Roast, Mervyn Cawston, Mark Beeney, Ken Charlery, Malcolm Stewart, Les Berry, Mark Golley
Middle row: Mike Mercer, Barbara Legg, Bernie Holden, Barry Fenn, John Brooks, Frank Brooks, Joe Sullivan, George Dudley, Jim Dawkins, David Twiddy, Michael Frank, Dennis Berry, Geoff Pearson
Front row: Tony Rogers, Noel Ashford, David Jacques, Steve Butler, Bill Williams, Jim Thompson, John Still, Tony Pamphlett, Mark Hill, Mark Gall, Dave Mehmet.
Good luck to them in professional football.

Yugoslavia the Cup

The Cup – Partizan and Velez reached the final. On the surface, two strong familiar names… reality was different. Both teams had so-so teams, Velez especially was rather weak. Partizan utterly destroyed them at the final – 6-1!
Velez (Mostar) managed to reach the Cup final, but winning the trophy was not up to them. Too bad, but such was the reality.
Partizan triumphed with the Cup and thus saved the season – a shaky otherwise season, but ending with a trophy, unlike their arch-enemies Crvena zvezda. And it was even significant success – strangely, Partizan did not do well in the Cup tournaments: this was their only 5th Cup and the previous one was won in the very distant 1956-57 season.
Partizan had some good players, but they did not have truly great team for a long time. Winning the Cup was good for moral and in the same time more or less showed the limits of this squad.

Yugoslavia I Division

First Division. A new an quite unusual champion this season, which was refreshing, but the victory was thanks to ‘Sajber penalties’ – under the old rules the champion would have been another team, which certainly felt victimized in increasingly troublesome years of Yugoslav football, by now full of complains which were already more than just football scheming. Since ‘the victim’ of the new rule was one of the most powerful and popular Yugoslav clubs, it is easy to guess who was most displeased by the Sajber’s ‘reform’. Add to this increasing fan violence with also increasing political overtones and tensions. Add also that Yugoslav football was in transitional period – the previous generation was getting old and moving to play abroad, but the incredibly talented new crop was still too young, coming to full bloom during the 1990s. Hajduk (Split) was already banned for 2 years by UEFA and had to play only for domestic honours, Celik (Zenica) was caught in game-fixing at the end of the previous season and was penalized with 6-point deduction this season for their crime. Partizan (Belgrade) was not in great shape, but little known so far small club from Belgrade was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the season.
Celik (Zenica) was very weak this season – last and relegated with 17 points. True, they started with minus 6 points, but even if they were not penalized there was no escape from going down: they would have been with 23 points, but still last. Standing from left: Đurđević, Radović, Kuhinja, Štrbac, Nestorović, Kopić. Crouching: Ratković, Milidrag, Erak, Golubica, Fileš.
Napredak (Krusevac) was the other weakling – 17th with 23 points. Relegated, of course. Top row from left: Lilić, Kojić, Radivojević, Todorović, Jokić. Middle row: Narandžić, Rudić, Vukojević, Milun Sakić, Jovanović, Štavljanin, Đorić, Mićović, Miletić. Front row: Milutinović, Momčilović, Kojičić, Filipović, Jezdimirović, Dejan Milovanović.
Zeljeznicar (Sarajevo) survived – 16th with 25 points. Standing from left: Zoran Slišković, Dragan Škrba, Rade Bogdanović, Haris Alihodžić, Ismet Štilić, Gvrilović, GoranJurišić. First row: Dušan Duca Simić, Suad Katana, Nikola Nikić, Edin Bahtić.
Spartak (Subotica) – 15th with 26 points. Good for one more season ate least.
Buducnost (Titograd) – 14th with 28 points. Top row from left: Željko Pipi Božović, Miodrag Radulović, Saša Vujović, Boško Tatar, Niša Saveljić, Srdan Dmitrović, Željko Rolović, Marinko Mirotić.
Middle row: Dragoje Leković, Saša Škara, Vojo Ćalov, Aleksandar – Anto Drobnjak, Ljubomir Radunović – fizioterapeut, Branislav – Bodo Drobnjak, Mladen Miročević, Darko Žarić, Miodrag – Grof Božović.
Sitting: Darko Mugoša, Zlatko Dalić, Slavko Vlahović, Momčilo Vujačić – coach, Stanko Poklepović – chief of the coaching stuff, Milutin Folić – coach, Predrag Mijatović, Željko Petrović, Goran Stanisavljević.
Interesting names here, but normally Buducnost was not very strong and continued the tradition.
FK Sarajevo – 13th with 28 points.
Sloboda (Tuzla) – 12th with 28 points. Top row from left: Peštalić, Jogunčić, Karajčić, Smajlović, Mihić, Herić, Memišević, Pilipović, fiz. Sabitović, Z. Milošević, Mrkić;
Middle row: Jusić, Mladina, V. Milošević, Verlašević, Čogurić, Hadžimahović, Gradaščević, Nalić, dr Muminović, Hukić ;
Sitting: C. Milošević, Sadiković, Hasanbašić, Kolarić, Beširević, tr. Jovićić, G. Milošević, Tahirović, Šarić, Ibrić.
Velez (Mostar) – 11th with 28 points.
NK Rijeka – 10th with 28 points.
Vardar (Skopje) – 9th with 29 points.
NK Osijek – 8th with 31 points. Standing from left: Maričić, Bilić, Šuker, Kostić, Žeravica, Janković.
Front: Žurka, Šmudla, Alar, Rakela, Kapetan.
Radnicki (Nis) – 7th with 31 points.
Partizan (Belgrade) – 6th with 33 points.
Dinamo (Zagreb) – 5th with 34 points.
Rad (Belgrade) – 4th with 35 points. This was their debut at top level – and very successful debut it was. Rarely a newcomer achieves immediately a UEFA Cup spot. And also it happened to be the best season in the history of Rad so far. Standing from left: Đurović, Milinković, Gogić, Đoinčević, Drizić, Savić, Jovanović. Crouching: Arsenijević, Grbović, Vlaisavljević, Jevtović.
Hajduk (Split) – 3rd with 36 points. The UEFA ban on them benefited Rad. Top row from left: Rade Tošić, Damir Jurković, Nikola Jerkan, Robert Ugrin, Ivan Pudar, Danko Rožić, (fizioterapeut), Alen Bokšić, Ivica Vučević, Nenad Gračan, Frane Bućan, Franko Bogdan.
Middle row: Jerko Tipurić, Mladen Pralija, Grgica Kovač, Zvezdan Pejović, Krešimir Sunara, Goran Alar, Robert Jarni, Željko Brkić, Stipe Radovančić, Joško Jeličić.
Sitting: Ivan Katalinić (assistant coach), Dražen Boban, Marin Lalić, Joško Španjić, Dragan Reljić, Petar Nadoveza (coach), Igor Štimac, Branko Karačić, Darko Dražić, Igor Jelavić, Radovan Krstović, Luka Peruzović (assistant coach).
Former stars from 1960s and 70s coached now the new crop of highly talented youngsters. Hajduk so far was constantly producing new stars, year after year, since the late 1960s – amazing work of their youth system.
Crvena zvezda (Belgrade) – 2nd with 38 points. 18 regular wins, 2 penalty shoot-out wins, 5 shoot-out losses, 9 regular losses, 55-30 goal-difference. Crvena zvezda most likely was the bitterest enemy of the ‘Sajber penalties’ – the new rule victimized them: under classic rules they would have been champions by one point advantage. Now they finished 3 points behind another team…
Vojvodina (Novi Sad) won the championship with 41 points. 18 regular wins, 5 penalty shoot-out wins, 1 shoot-out loss, 10 regular losses, 50-38 foal-difference. Wonderful success! But also victory based on the new rule… a controversy remained. However, if Crvena zvezda was unhappy, they better looked at themselves – losing 5 out of 7 shoot-outs. Vojvodina won 5 out of 6 shoot-out – yes, taking full advantage of the new rule, but rules are rules and one still had to score more penalties than the opposition to get a point. Can’t blame Vojvodina for winning penalty shoot-outs.
Vojvodina had wonderful team – for them. Former star from the 1970s Milos Sestic captained them and he was helped by rapidly rising young star Sinisa Mihajlovic. The team played their best and finished first, which was great historic moment – this was just the 2nd title won by Vojvodina and they waited over 20 years for it. Sadly, it was also their last success – at least so far.
To a large degree the success was due to the arrival of Ljupko Petrovic to coach them – he was already well respected coach, but this time achieved real success. Vojvodina triumphed at last with him and the only trouble was that the club most likely was going to lose his coach and star players. But presently it was only joy.

Yugoslavia II Division

Second Division. The new Second Division had 20 teams and was made of 2 relegated from First Division teams ( Prisitina and Sutjeska), 2 teams promoted from Third Division (Belasica Strumica and Backa 1901 Backa Palanka), and 16 teams of the former Second Division – 8 from the West Second Division and 8 from the East Second Division. That meant all teams bellow 9th place in both former Second Division leagues were relegated to their big displeasure. The new ‘Sajber rule’ was in force and eventually decided the final positions at the top, where 6 teams fought for 2 promotions. The last 4 teams were relegated and the fresh newcomers were among them.
Belasica (Strumica) finished last with 22 points and went back to third level.
FK Novi Pazar (Novi Pazar) finished 19th with 25 points and was relegated. The photo may or may be be from this season.
Backa 1901 (Backa Palanka) was 18th with 26 points and suffered the same fate as the other newly promoted team, Belasica – they were immediately relegated.
Radnicki (Kragujevac) was 17th with 27 points and relegated as well.
GOSK Jug (Dubrovnik) took 16th place with 31 points.
Leotar (Trebinje) – 15th with 31 points.
Dinamo (Vinkovci) – 14th with 31 points.
Sloboda (Titovo Uzice) – 13th with 32 points.
Pelister (Bitola) – 12th with 32 points.
Macva (Sabac) – 11th with 32 points.
Pristina (Pristina) – 10th with 32 points. They started with minus 6 points, but did relatively well after all.
Liria (Prizren) – 9th with 33 points. Standing from left: Čejku, Tomić, Beh. Đinali, Bed. Đinali, Haši, Gega. First row: Luma, Ramadani, Limani, Nikolić, Luli.
Sutjeska (Niksic) – 8th with 35 points. Standing from left: Rakojević, Đukanović, Marušić, Šabotić, Kuzeljević, Radinović, Giljen. Crouching: Medin, Dukić, Zirojević, Durgutović, Gospić.
Borac (Cacak) – 7th with 35 points. Standing from left: Rajevac, Panić, Lučić, Marković, Dragutinović, Petrović. First row: Štavljanin, Maričić, Stojanović, Vulović, Šušić, Jelić.
And now the to 6, which competed for promotion: because of the much hated ‘Sajber penalties’, points according to the classic rule will be given as well – hated or not, the no-ties rule did not affect greatly the final positions of the stronger teams.
OFK Beograd was 6th with 40 points. They would have been with 44 points under classic rules – and 5th.

Sibenik – 5th with 42 points. Under the old rules they would have been with 44 points and 6th, having worse goal-difference than OFK Beograd.
Kikinda – 4th with 42 points. Also 4th under the old rules, but with 45 points.
Proleter (Zrenjanin) – 3rd with 43 points. Under old rules, they would have been with 46 points, thus, 3rd again.
Borac (Banja Luka) – 2nd with 45 points. Under old rules they should have been Second Division champions with 50 points. Yet, it was a minor point – Borac earned promotion, which was their big aim anyway.
Olimpija (Ljubljana) clinched first place with 46 points. 21 regular wins, 4 penalty shoot-out wins, 3 shoot-out losses and 10 regular losses. 63-37 goal-difference. Under classic rules they would have been 2nd with 49 points – well, now they were Second Division winners, but the real success was earning promotion – like Borac, they wanted to return to their more natural habitat, First Division, and managed to do so.

Yugoslavia III Division

Yugoslavia – ranked 10th. The fashionable efforts to revitalize football did not skip Yugoslavia – new rule was introduced this season: the controversial ‘Saiber rule’, as it became known after his proponent, the Prsident of the Yugoslav Football Federation Slavko Sajber. As in other countries, the ties were abolished and penalty shoot-out followed tied game. Thus, regular win was awarded 2 points, shoot-out win – 1 point, and losers, no matter how, got nothing. It was much hated rule and did not last long, but this season the champion was decided by it. The other news, already announced earlier, was the amalgamation of the 2 groups of the Second Division into one of 20 teams. Many former members of Second Division went down to third level as a result. Finally, at the end of previous championship 2 teams were caught fixing a match and were penalized with 6-point deduction – the penalty was carried on in the new championship, so Celik (Zenica) and Pristina (Pristina) started with minus 6 points the new season. Fan violence brought another penalty – UEFA banned Hajduk (Split) for 2 years because of their behavior against Olympique (Marseille) in the 1987-88 Cup Winners Cup.
Lower divisions should be mentioned mostly in terms of past and future – here is a sample of clubs playing currently in Third Division or lower: clubs, which formerly were top league members and clubs playing top level football during the 1990s:
Pobeda (Prilep). Standing from left: M. Jonuz, Radevic, Salev, Todoroski, F. Jonuz, Najdoski
Crouching: Gunev, Naumoski, Kostov, Dimoski, Trkalinov.
Siroki Brieg. Standing from left: chairman Srećko Mandić, Zdenko Ljubić, Dinko Vranješ, Rajko Ćorić, Mario Prskalo, Zdravko Primorac, Gojko Tomić, Nikola Kovačić, assistant coach Miljenko Ćužić.
Crouching: coach Žarko Skoko, Zoran Galić, Ivan Glavina, Vlado Glavina, Mario Marušić, Anđelko Marušić.
Cukaricki (Belgrade)
FK Smederevo
NK Belisce
Obilic (Belgrade)
NK Izola
Teteks (Tetovo)
Varteks (Varazdin).
However, the real important thing was the group winners of Third Division, for they earned promotion up. They were:
Mladost (Lucani). The photo may or may not be from this season.
Iskra (Bugojno) – the picture may or may not be from this season.
Rudar (Ljubija), and
Zemun (Zemun). Third row from left: Vorkapić, Nikolić, Grozdanić, Tadić, Goranović, Miljković, Vitorović, Spasić.
Middle row: Nikolić, Rajić, Milićević, Pleše, Kežman, Simović, Simović, Makarin, Iskić, coach Kristić,
Sitting: Tupajić, Mirilović, coach V. Pejović, director S. Pejović, head coach Santrač, Lacmanović, Kurčubić.
As it was, only Mladost (Lucani) was a newcomer to Second Division – the rest were long-time Second Division members, which went down because of the reduction of the second level and quickly climbed back. Zemun and Iskra even played a bit in the First Division. Good luck to them all the next season.

Sweden the Cup

The Cup final opposed Malmo FF to Djurgardens IF. Malmo won 3-0 and won the Cup. Which also made the situation weirder.
Djurgardens IF lost the final, but at the end perhaps had no reason for grief – as a losing finalist, they got the country’s spot in the Cup Winners Cup.
Malmo FF won their 14th Cup. They were the strongest Swedish team at the moment and rightly so: coached by Roy Hodgson, who had Stefan Schwarz, Roger Ljung, Jonas Thern, young talent Martin Dahlin, and worthy veterans like Jan Moller and Hasse Borg. At the end, they went to play in the European Champions Cup and that benefited Djurgardens IF. Yes, Malmo FF was the best team this season, but they did not the title – the strange decision of the Swedish Federation was unfair to IFK Norrkoping – they should have been playing in the European Champion Cup, Malmo FF in the Cup Winners Cup, and Djurgardens IF in no European tournament at all. One missed penalty and… a loser earned a spot in the second in importance European tournament, the Cup winner went to play in the most important European tournament, the real champions were relegated to the UEFA Cup, bumping out of it Orebro SK.

Sweden I Division

First Division. No problem with the championship formula as such – it was already established years ago – but confusion was that the league winner, which is technically only the first phase of the championship, the place in the European Champion Cup. Thus, Sweden appeared to have 2 champions this season: the league champion and the national champion, which went to play in the UEFA Cup. After the end of the regular league championship the top 4 teams went to play-offs for the title. The last 2 teams in the league were relegated. The country still used classic 2-point for a win system.
Vastra Frolunda IF was last with 10 points and relegated.
GIF Sundsvall was also relegated – 11th with 13 points.
IK Brage – 10th with 17 points.
Orgryte IS – 9th with 21 points.
AIK – 8th with 21 points.
IFK Goteborg- 7th with 22 points.
Djurgardens IF – 6th with 23 points.
Halmstads BK – 5th with 25 points.
Orebro SK – 4th with 26 points and going to the championship play-offs.
GAIS – 3rd with 26 points and going to the championship play-offs.
IFK Norrkoping – 2nd with 29 points and going the championship play-offs.
Malmo FF – 1st with 31 points and going to the championship play-offs. They won the league championship after 12 wins, 7 ties, and 3 losses. 35-11 goal-difference. Since they represented Sweden in the next issue of the European Champions Cup, to the mind of many they were the country’s champions… but they were not.
Championship play-offs. Direct elimination in 2 legs.
GAIS was eliminated by Malmo FF 2-2 and 0-1.
Orebro lost to IFK Norrloping 1-1 and 0-3.
Thus, the best 2 teams in the regular league season met again to contest the Swedish title in 3 games.
The final was exciting drama – first IFK Norrkoping lost at home 0-2 and looked like Malmo FF was already champion, but IFK Norrkoping came back with away victory of 1-0. The third game was a real final and also a thrill: 0-0 after regular time, still 0-0 after extra-time, and penalty shoot-out followed. And in it IFK Norrkoping prevailed 4-3.
Malmo FF lost the title and surely they were devastated, but there was nothing to blame them for in the same time – they faced worthy opponent and the battle went the other way by chance. Malmo FF was going to play in the best European tournament anyway, so even without the title… they were champions.
IFK Norrkoping clinched the victory and won the Swedish title in most dramatic way. Great, but also bitter… they won their 12th title and did it with somewhat inferior team to Malmo’s. In a sense, it was a sweet victory of the underdog.
Happy champions indeed, but… champions going to play only in the UEFA Cup.

Lars Eriksson and Jan Helstrom proudly wave the trophy as fresh champions of Sweden.