Following on from my video on the 7 best island football clubs, a lot of people asked if we would do a video on 7 football clubs who play in foreign leagues. And as the more observant among you will have noticed, that is exactly what we’re about to do.
Most football clubs naturally tend to play in the domestic league of the nation in which they are based. Logically. However, there are occasions in which this isn’t the case. Some teams may feel they have outgrown the league they are in, such as the continued discussions which used to surround Celtic and Rangers potentially becoming part of the English game. Then there is the similar scenario of a team that is based in a nation with a domestic league that plays a really low standard of football, or has no domestic league at all.
To be clear, only teams that play in a country with a recognised football association can be considered to be playing in a foreign country. The list is in no particular order, but I’ve tried to give preference to better ranked or more competitive clubs, I have restricted it to just one entry per country/league and I’ve deliberately avoided disputed lands or territories to avoid tedious debates in the comments.
Here are our 7 football clubs that play in foreign leagues:
7. San Marino Calcio
San Marino’s biggest football club San Marino Calcio were formerly known as SS Serenissima, then AC San Marino and now San Marino Calcio. They are the only current Sammarinese club that are a part of the Italian football league system, currently competing in Serie D, the fourth tier. The third tier is the highest level San Marino Calcio have ever competed at, and since the San Marino Football League is entirely amateur, they are also the only professional football club in the country.
6. FC Andorra
Although it is more than twice the size of San Marino, Andorra is still a pretty tiny country with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. Founded in 1942, FC Andorra have been part of the Spanish league system since 1948. The club’s finest hour came in 1994 when they won the Copa Catalunya, beating Barcelona in the semi-final and Espanyol in the final. They were bought by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique in December 2018, and having won promotion to the fifth tier last season, they then paid €450,000 to gain promotion into the fourth tier. Yeah, I know, it’s a bit dodgy isn’t it…
5. FC Vaduz
Every football club in Liechtenstein plays in the Swiss league system, since Liechtenstein doesn’t have a league system of its own. FC Vaduz are by far the finest club Liechtenstein have to offer though, having spent four seasons in the Swiss Super League, the top flight of Swiss football. Vaduz were most recently relegated from the Swiss Super League in the 2016-17 season, and they finished 6th in the second tier – the Swiss Challenge League – last season.
4. Cardiff City
There are a handful of Welsh clubs who are part of the English football league system, since the Welsh league system isn’t considered to be a particularly strong one. Cardiff City began playing English teams in 1910, and joined the Football League in 1920. Since then, they have spent 17 seasons in the top flight, including last season, when they were only narrowly relegated from the Premier League. Cardiff are the only non-English club to have won the FA Cup, back in 1927, and they have reached a further three English cup finals but lost on each occasion.
3. Wellington Phoenix
Wellington Phoenix are the only non-Australian club allowed to compete in the A-League, and in doing so, they pull of the incredibly rare distinction of playing in a league under the governance of a separate FIFA confederation, since New Zealand’s football falls under the OFC whilst Australia’s falls under the AFC. Wellington Phoenix replaced the Wellington Knights as New Zealand’s sole representatives in the A-League back in 2007, and currently captained by former Newcastle United star Steven Taylor, the club finished 6th last season.
2. Toronto FC
Toronto FC are one of three Canadian clubs currently competing in Major League Soccer, having joined the US league as an expansion franchise in 2007. They are the most successful of the trio of Canadian MLS clubs, thanks to their domestic treble in 2017. Inspired by the fine form of Sebastien Giovinco, Toronto won the MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield and the Canadian Championship in 2017, finishing as runners-up in the CONCACAF Champions League the following season.
1. AS Monaco
The world’s outstanding football team that play in a foreign league, AS Monaco are one of the most successful clubs in France, despite technically not actually being in France at all. Monaco is a tiny city-state located in the Cote d’Azur, and is among the most disappointing places I’ve ever visited if I’m honest with you. Well-known for its status as a tax haven and millionaire’s playground, Monaco’s national football team isn’t a member of FIFA or UEFA, but their club side have had a successful if a little inconsistent past. They have won eight Ligue 1 titles, a tally bettered only by Saint-Etienne and Marseille, in addition to numerous other trophies and having reached a Champions League final in 2004. They finished 17th in Ligue 1 last season.