The State of Slovenian Club Football
May 27, 2019
Prva liga Telekom Slovenije
Most Championships: Maribor, 15
Last 5 Winners: Maribor (18/19, 16/17, 14/15), Olimpija (17/18, 15/16)
UEFA Ranking: 31st
Highest Ranked Club: Maribor, 79th
Since the Europa League was rebranded, only Maribor have reached an EL or Champions League group stage. Are they the de facto dominant club in Slovenia or do other sides compete?
Maribor is the most successful club in Slovenia, with 15 titles and European success. But in the last four year’s Olimpija Ljubljana (known entrepreneur Milan Mandaric is leading the club) took two titles and a cup. Mandaric’s reign in Ljubljana is full of bizarre decisions, players are coming and leaving in big numbers, coaches too. Olimpija is, despite success and Mandaric’s investment, a chaotic club but still able to challenge Maribor. Other Slovenian clubs cannot compete with Maribor and Olimpija.
How important has Maribor’s European success been for Slovenian football?
It is, of course. Our league is struggling with lack of investments (our clubs cannot be privately owned), lack of talent and poor attendance. Maribor’s European success ‘covered’ all that for a while and gave Slovenian fans a possibility to enjoy European football.
Of course, when a European season ends all the problems come to light again. Maribor’s European success helped especially Maribor, the club increased its dominance in the league with all that Euro money.
What would be seen as a successful year in Europe for Slovenian football fans?
If any club reaches EL or CL group stage this is a huge success. Minimum for every Slovenian club should be, regarding all issues, to advance at least one round. Any playoff spot is already a success.
Is there any money in Slovenian football?
No, very little. Our league is almost semi-pro, many clubs struggle to survive and have to sell almost every player that can.
Do most of the country get behind the Slovenian sides playing in Europe or is there a lot of tribalism still apparent?
Most of the country supports clubs in Europe, we only have one big rivalry – Olimpija and Maribor.
How is the EL viewed in general by Slovenian football fans?
As a proper competition for our clubs, nothing more. Even Maribor struggled to sell out the tickets for some matches.
How do you think the Europa League 2 will affect Slovenian EL performances and what has been the reaction to the formation of the competition in Slovenia?
The vibe is positive. Our clubs will get more chances to play European matches and that is good. Our league is small and poor, we can’t really expect from our clubs to play EL or even CL on a regular basis. Every entrance is a success. EL2 is offering our league a more solid contact with Europe.
What would you like to see UEFA do to level the playing field more for small European sides?
EL2 is a good step forward, it is offering more Euro matches for clubs from smaller league. More matches mean more money. In my honest opinion, UEFA is treating smaller leagues quite alright, with money distribution, and now EL2 etc.
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Author: Tom Mortimer
Tom is the editor at Betting Circle and has been creating online content for over 10 years. Tom mainly writes about sport and gambling, but every now and then also delves into fleshier subjects like politics and psychology. When he was 18 he created HungarianFootball.com and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer, Goal.com, among many others.