About 1. HNL
1. HNL History, Format, Organization, Media Coverage
The Croatian Football League, also known as the Hrvatska nogometna liga or HNL, is the top-flight football league in Croatia. Founded in 1992, the competition is run by the Croatian Football Federation and was previously known as the Prva Hrvatska nogometna liga (First Croatian Football League) until 2022–23 when the country’s top three divisions were renamed thanks to structural changes.
Just like most top European leagues, the Hrvatska nogometna liga operates with a relegation and promotion system. All the ten teams competing in the league face each other four times (twice at home, twice away). The club that wins the most points earns the title, a spot in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League, and a Croatian Football Super Cup showdown with that same season’s Hrvatski nogometni kup (Croatian Cup) champions. Meanwhile, the lowest-ranked team in the table suffers automatic relegation to the Prva nogometna liga (First Football League), Croatia’s second division.
Media coverage of the Croatian First Football League has significantly improved. In the past, only one match in each round (derby match) was shown live on television. The first real change arrived during the 2008-2009 season when the Croatian National TV Network (HRT) broadcasted five matches on Sunday afternoons. Nevertheless, the project did not last and was canceled, mostly because of issues regarding fixture scheduling that surfaced during the period.
In November 2010, the Croatian Football League, for the first time in its history, sold broadcasting rights to marketing agency Digitel Komunikacije for a period of five years, beginning with the 2011–12 season. After the negotiations fell through with the national broadcasting television HRT - which covered the Hrvatska nogometna liga for the past twenty seasons - Digitel signed a deal with T-Hrvatski Telekom.