“Football came to Norway from Great Britain in the 1880s, and quickly became popular both in terms of active players and as a spectator sport. Norway’s first football club, ‘Christiania Footbulclub’ was founded in 1885. The oldest club still in existence is Odd Grenland, formed in 1894.

The Football Association of Norway (NFF) (Norweigan: Norges Fotballforbund) is the governing body of football in Norway. It was formed in 1902. It organises the national teams and the Norweigan Premier League.

The NFF joined FIFA in 1908 and UEFA in 1954.

The Norwegian national football team is the national football team of Norway. The team played its first international in 1908. Its home ground is Ullevaal Stadium, Oslo, which seats 25,572 spectators.

Norway has participated three times in the World Cup: in 1938, 1994 and 1998. The Norwegian national team is the only team that has played Brazil without ever losing to them.

An Olympic team achieved third place in the 1936 Olympics.

Norway had their most successful period from 1990 to 1998. At its height in the mid-90’s the team was even ranked second on the FIFA World Rankings.

The Norwegian Football Cup is the main knockout cup competition in Norweigan football. It is run by the Football Association of Norway and has been contested since 1902, making it the oldest football tournament in the country. The Norwegian Football Cup is a national championship, meaning that while the Norwegian Premier League may be the most prestigious competition to win, it is the winners of the Cup who are awarded the title “Norwegian Football Champions”. The first rounds of the cup are played in April. The first few rounds are set up by the Norwegian Football Association, and the top premier league teams are usually pitted against fairly weak amateur teams, on the amateur team’s home pitch. Later rounds are drawn at random, the teams play once. The final match is played at Ullevaal Stadium (national stadium) in November, and marks the end of the Norwegian football season.

The first cup was open for county champions only. This continued until 1933, when the cup was opened for all clubs of a certain standing. The competition was not nationwide until 1963. 1963 was the first year clubs from Northern Norway were allowed to participate, this was due to a poor communication system in the northern parts of Norway and to the belief that the clubs in the three northern counties could not compete on the same level as the southern clubs.

The top division of football in Norway is the Norwegian Premier League. Its official Norwegian name is Tippeligaen.
Between 1963 and 1990 the name of the league was 1. divisjon (“1st Division”), a name that has later been used for the second level league from 1991.

There are 16 clubs in the Norwegian Premier League, currently half of which are placed in or near the Oslo area. The Norwegian league is distinguished for having two teams north of the Arctic Circle: Tromsø and Bodø/Glimt. During the course of a season, each club plays the others twice, home and away. The season starts in March and lasts until early November. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. Teams are ranked by total points, and then goal difference, goals scored, and then head to head records used to separate teams on equal points. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned “League Winner”. The two lowest placed teams are automatically relegated to the First Division and the top two teams from the First Division take their place.

The winners of the Norwegian Premier League enter the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, while the second and third placed teams enter the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. The fourth placed team may also qualify, depending on what happens in the Norweigan Cup. Normally the winners of the Cup receive the final spot (entering the UEFA Cup in the first round proper). If the winners have already qualified for Europe, the spot is transferred to the fourth placed team.

The Norwegian Premier League is eighteenth in the UEFA rankings (2008) of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five year period. This also makes it the best league in Scandinavia.

The league has enjoyed tremendous popularity in Norway. Viking won the first year the league bore the name Tippeligaen, followed by Rosenborg, claiming 13 consecutive titles (1992-2004). However, in 2005 the winning streak came to an end as Vålerenga clinched the title. In 2006, Rosenborg returned to the top of the league. Brann won the league in 2007, and Stabæk won their first-ever title in 2008.

The First Division is the second highest division of the Norwegian football league system. Since 2005, the official name of the league has been Adeccoligaen after its sponsor Adecco.

In 2009, the number of teams in the Norwegian Premier League will expand from fourteen to sixteen. Therefore, 2008 will be a transitional season, in which more teams will be promoted to the top flight, and fewer teams relegated to the Second Division, than usual. Automatic promotion will be awarded to the teams finishing in the top three places in the standings. Only the two teams at the bottom of the standings will face relegation to the Second Division, as opposed to four in previous seasons.

As of 2009, the First Division winners and runners-up will earn automatic promotion.  The four teams finishing at the bottom of the league will be relegated to the Second Division.

The Norwegian Second Division (2. divisjon) is the third highest football league in Norway” (and represents the lowest Norwegian league playable on FM).

“It is divided into four groups of fourteen teams, and at the end of the season the winner of each group earns promotion to the second highest league, Adeccoligaen. The bottom three teams in each group are relegated to the Third Division. The Second Division is the highest league a reserve team can participate in, and only reserve teams from the Tippeligaen clubs (first tier) are allowed to enter. The participation of reserve teams stirs debate from time to time. Reserve teams cannot be promoted from the Second Division.” Should a reserve team become a Second Division group winner it is the team finishing below that earns promotion to the Adeccoligaen.

Source: Gooner64/Wikipedia
Corrections for 2011 season: SackedLlama