ARL Football Success Rankings
Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. But it is its trophy cabinet which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.
The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe.
It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.
Portugal and its Primeira Liga
Portugal’s footballing history goes back to the late 19th Century when its biggest clubs were founded. By 1922 an appetite for bragging rights kicked off the first national competition – the forerunner of the Taca de Portugal (Portugal Cup). By 1934 the Portuguese league was founded.
Portuguese league football has been dominated by the country’s 3 biggest clubs from its 2 major metropolises – Lisbon and Porto. It’s an intense, three way rivalry in a land famed for its passionate fans. These clubs have had a big impact on the history of UEFA football too, not surprising given some of Europe’s finest players have hailed from Portugal. They’ve managed 58.5 international Success Points.
Ranked 6th in 2022, Portuguese clubs receive -1 Success Points in all 3 major domestic competitions, as shown below:
|UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup||2|
|FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup||3|
|LC: League Cup (Taca da Liga)||2|
|UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League ||3|
|AC: Association Cup (Campeonato de Portugal / Taca de Portugal)||3|
|UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League||6|
|UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup||6.5|
|UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League||8|
|T: Top Tier League Title (Primeira Liga)||7|
Scroll to the bottom for the full table of Portugal’s 8 most successful clubs
5. Boavista FC
Success Points: 22
First trophy won: Taca de Portugal (TdP), 1975
Latest trophy won: TdP, 1997
Most Successful Manager: José Maria Pedroto – 6 points (1974-1976)
Founded a year before SL Benfica, ‘the Panthers’ enjoyed a golden era in the 1970s under the management of future Porto legend José Pedroto. Boavista won their first ever major trophy, a Portuguese Cup, in 1975 by beating Benfica in the final. They then retained the trophy the next year whilst coming 2nd to ‘the Eagles’ in the Premier League. Boavista won another Cup in ’79 as well as the first ever Portuguese Super Cup.
The club won two more cups in the 1990s then in 2001 Boavista were crowned Portuguese champions. This is just the 2nd time a club outside ‘Os Três Grandes‘ (Big Three) have won a Premier League and Boavista won it by conceding just 22 goals.
4. CF Os Beleneses
Success Points: 25
First Trophy Won: TdP, 1927
Latest Trophy Won: TdP, 1989
Most Successful Decade: 1940s – 10 points
Before the Premier League’s advent, the Big Three’ had room for one more club. In the years between 1922-1938 when the Portuguese Cup was the equivalent of a national championship, Beleneses won three within fourteen years of its formation, and that put ‘The Bethlehem’ amongst the ranks of the nation’s biggest clubs. In the 1940s, as war raged across the rest of Europe, Beleneses won another Portuguese Cup before winning their first Premier League in 1946, beating Benfica to the crown by one point.
The club steadily declined in the 2nd half of the 20th Century yet achieved two more Portuguese Cup triumphs in 1960 and 1989. CF Os Beleneses turned amateur in 2018.
3. Sporting CP
Success Points: 210.5
First trophy won: TdP, 1923
Latest trophies won: Taca da Liga (TdL), 2022
Most successful manager: József Szabó – 24 Success Points (1937 – 1944)
In 1906 a man named Jose Alvalade and others ended their membership of the Campo Grande Football Club due to a disagreement over whether the club should focus on sports …or hosting picnics. Three months later, with the financial backing of his grandfather, the Viscount of Alvalade, he founded Sporting, declaring he wanted Sporting to be “…a great club, as great as the greatest in Europe.”
To this end he built Portugal’s most advanced football ground and the club won its first Portuguese Cup in 1923. ‘The Lions’ really came of age with a spectacular period from 1940-1954 when they went on a barnstorming run, winning nine Premier League titles and five Portuguese Cups and spearheaded by a quintet of forwards dubbed the ‘5 Violins‘. In 1964 Sporting grabbed its first European trophy, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
It continued to win Titles and cups throughout the ’60s to ’90s, then began to lose winning momentum. The Lions won 6 cups since the 2002 season they won a PL-Cup double to keep them in the mix before achieving a PL-League Cup double in 2021 however, in the ‘Covid Crazy Season’.
Thus Sporting has maintained its profile as one of Portugal’s ‘Big Three’. Sporting’s most successful decade was the 1940s, scoring 56 of its 261.5 points.
2. FC Porto
Success Points: 314
First trophy Won: TdP, 1922
Latest trophies won: Primeira Liga (PL) and TdP, 2022
Most successful manager: Artur Jorge – 37 Success Points (1984-1987 and 1988-1991)
After a false start in 1893, a gentleman named Antonio Almeida founded ‘The Dragons’ of Porto in 1906. The club won the inaugural Portuguese Cup, defeating Lisbon rivals Sporting in the final, and they also clinched the first ever PL Title in 1935. Porto slumped during the ’40s but kicked on with filling up the trophy cabinet until the 1960s when it suffered another trophy drought. They’ve won more and more titles and cups ever since, though they’re still yet to win a League Cup.
Under club legend Artur Jorge, Porto came from outside favourites to beat Bayern Munich in the 1987 final to grab it’s first ever European Cup. Porto had a fantastic 1990s and won a record 5 PLs in a row. Manager superstar Jose Mourinho joined the club in 2001. He won the club’s first ever Europa League two years later and then a Champions League the year after that. That season would also see Porto win a PL and Intercontinental Cup, a spectacular achievement for a Portuguese club! Porto won another Europa League in 2011.
Porto’s most successful decade is the 2000s with 90 Success Points. It’s not just a giant in Portugal but in Europe too.
1. SL Benfica
Success points: 377
First trophy Won: TdP, 1930
Latest trophies won: PL, 2019
Most successful manager: Jorge Jesus, 44 Success Points (2009 – 2015)
Benfica FC: Portuguese top dogs; so successful have they been they’ve hoarded 44% of all PL Titles plus more than a quarter of all Portuguese Cups. It’s where one of Europe’s greatest players, Eusebio, made his name too.
‘The Eagles’ started out in 1904 but struggled with poor management and finances to the extent that, in frustration, eight players quit to join crosstown rivals Sporting in 1907. Benfica won its first major trophy in 1935 and has been cramming more and more silverware into its trophy room since. The club lost a bit of steam in the ’90s and 2000s and added ‘only’ 4 PLs and 5 other major trophies in that period.
Benfica achieved 3 PLs in a row with managing great, Lippo Hertzka from 1935-38. Under another Hungarian, János Biri, Benfica won another 3 titles in a row, plus the first of 11 domestic doubles from 1942-45. In 1961, under Joaquim Bogalho‘s presidency and Eusebio’s arrival, Benfica reached its zenith and placed a stranglehold on Portuguese football. It clinched 2 European Cups from 61-62, beating Barcelona-Real Madrid. It also managed no less than four ‘Tris‘ (3 consecutive PLs) from 1961-77 and 5 Portuguese Cups. More recently the club managed a ‘Tetra‘ (4) from 2014-17. The club’s most successful decade to date is the 1960s with a big 88 points.
8 Most Successful Clubs in Portugal
|Position||Club||Subpoints Totals||Total Points|
LC: 7 x 2 = 14
AC: 29 x 3 = 87
CL: 2 x 8 = 16
T: 37 x 7 = 259
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
FIFA CWC: 2 x 3 = 6
AC: 22 x 3 = 66
EL: 2 x 6 = 12
CL: 2 x 8 = 16
T: 30 x 7 = 210
|3||Sporting CP||LC: 4 x 2 = 8|
AC: 21 x 3 = 63
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 19 x 7 = 133
|4||CF Os Beleneses|
6 x 3 = 18
1 x 7 = 7
5 x 3 =15
1 x 7 = 7
2 x 2 = 4
3 x 3 = 9
1 x 2 = 2
3 x 3 = 9
2 x 3 = 6
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