Ever wondered the answer to ‘what does farmers league in soccer mean?’
Well it wasn’t until a few years ago, that I came across the term.
Nowadays no matter if your are on Twitter, Reddit, Instragam.
If there is a soccer debate going on, chances are this type of league is being mentioned.
However what exactly is it? Is it a real league?
Well in this post I will cover everything you need to know on this term.
Table of Contents
Explanation of the term “Farmers League”
While there is no such thing as a Farmers League.
Many soccer fans around the world, will use this derogatory term to when talking about a quality of a league.
It essentially implies that the competition isn’t as fierce as other leagues.
Lacking quality and the competitiveness that you would get with leagues such as the Premier League.
Which by many is dubbed as the best.
Now farmer’s leagues can consist of those that are found in smaller countries.
Or regions with fewer resources and infrastructure for developing football players.
So when someone says a league is a farmers league.
What they’re actually saying is that because the quality is so low in their eyes.
That the only players playing are farmers.
Even though that is a lie.
My first experience of this word came back in 2016.
Which looking back is a great example of the use of the term Farmers League.
My team West Ham was playing in the third qualifying round to Astra Giurgiu.
We were overwhelming favorites to win.
And for anyone watching most had no clue who the opposition was.
In the end, we lost and for a spell of time, everyone including my mates, would say to me.
‘Your team lost to a team that plays in a farmers league’
Or something along those lines.
So as you can see this soccer slang, is basically slating against both clubs in this kind of example.
The team that won is made out to look like farmers and not professional footballers.
While the team that lost is seemingly made out to be rubbish.
Example 2: Seemingly ‘Easy’ Leagues
But the farmers league term isn’t just for examples like this.
In fact there also used a lot nowadays, when talking about big teams who too many don’t have the competition that others may have.
Teams such as PSG are a great example of this, as they have dominated the French top flight.
As a result of this fans will say that PSG plays in a farmers league because it’s so easy for them to retain the title.
Criticism Towards Leagues Labeled as “Farmers League”
If you hear the word Farmers League.
It is almost always said in a way to belittle whatever league, team, or player in question.
For instance when Messi joined PSG.
Many fans would talk about how he only joined because he didn’t want to face the competitive nature of the Premier League.
A league in which he has yet to come to.
So it’s all about comparing leagues and saying that certain ones are more inferior to more famous ones.
However, these “Farmers Leagues” still play an important role.
They give local players the chance to gain experience and exposure at a professional level.
As players from big clubs around Europe will frequently be loaned to clubs in these so-called ‘Farmers League’.
In order to get first-team experience.
Making them a great stepping stone.
Especially for players who are aiming for better clubs.
If we were to look at the Ligue 1 in France again.
Just as an example.
Well, some of the arguably best players in the world have come from there.
Stars such as Kylian Mbappé who is in many eyes even number 1 in the world right now.
Let’s also not forget N’Golo Kanté who didn’t even come from Ligue 1.
He was scouted while playing in the second league Ligue 2.
Now hes regarded has one of the best CDM’s in the game.
So as you can see these “Farmers Leagues” can give players the chance to show their skills and make it big.
Examples of Farmers League in soccer
Now let’s have a look at a few examples of farmers league in soccer, and delve a bit deeper.
No, I am not talking about leagues made of farmers who work on farms.
I am talking about specific leagues in which they don’t get the respect they deserve.
Despite being big in their own right.
Most Popular Farmers Leagues: Ligue 1 and Eredivisie
As we have already spoken about Ligue 1, let’s continue to use them as an example.
So in Ligue 1, you have one team with significantly more power than anyone else in the league.
This of course is PSG.
In fact, some of the players in their team will likely come at the same price tag.
If not the same salaries.
As some teams as a WHOLE in Ligue 1.
So as you can see, this gives PSG a slight upper hand, as they are able to go into the market and buy whoever they please.
The likes of Messi, Mbappe, Neymar, and Ibrahimovic over the years are all good examples.
Now if we turn out attention to the Eredivisie.
This is the top flight in the Netherlands.
Well, their league is very similar.
You have Ajax who dominate at the top.
Sometimes challenged by the likes of PSV, Feyenoord, and Az Alkmaar.
But when I started to follow this league a lot closer a few years ago.
I noticed how the quality difference between Ajax and other sides in the league was massive.
To the point where every time they played.
They were always overwhelming favorites to win.
So as a result Eredivisie has also been considered a ‘Farmers League’ too.
Below is a table that shows these two leagues, along with the most dominant side in each:
Now while these teams are very dominant in their leagues.
It is also important to note that when each team takes to European Competition.
They tend to struggle a little.
In fact, PSG has failed to win the Champions League despite the huge focus and financial investment that has gone into doing so.
As for Ajax well considering what they have at their disposal they have been successful.
Managed to reach the Champions League Semi-Finals in 2019, an impressive campaign where they finally lost to Tottenham.
When it comes to football, it all mostly comes down to money.
If Ligue 1 clubs had the money and backing Premier League clubs has.
Well, we would be talking about how the English Premier League is just a farmers league.
Where people go to retire and not be so competitive.
However I think its important to look at it from point of view of each league has its strengths and weaknesses.
Instead of just labelling certain ones as Farmers Leagues.
Just because they don’t have the financial backing others do.
Each has different styles of play.
Levels of competitiveness
And player development methods.
So what one might dismiss as a ‘Farmers League’.
Another may see as a breeding ground for nurturing young talent.
Or a destination for seasoned professionals looking for new challenges.
With that said, I hope you have now learned a thing or two about this Farmers League term that is very popular nowadays.
If you ever find your league being, team or a player being brandished with this term.
You should have a good idea exactly what there trying to say.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does the term “farmers league” mean in soccer?
A: The term “farmers league” is a derogatory slang commonly used to belittle a soccer league or competition. By saying it’s not as good as others in terms of its quality and competitiveness.
Q: Why is it called a farmers league?
A: It’s called Farmers League to imply that players within a certain league are not great, and probably work as farmers for their actual jobs.
It is essentially hinting at the fact that the league shouldn’t be taken seriously because it’s not good high-level players featuring in it.
Q: Which soccer league is often referred to as a farmers league?
A: The term “farmers league” is most commonly associated with French Ligue 1. But can be used towards other leagues too.
With the dominance of Paris Saint Germain in recent years and with them easily winning so many Ligue 1 titles, compared to other leagues. Any critics will use this term to belittle the overall level of competition in Ligue 1.
Q: Is the farmers league term objective or subjective?
A: Since anyone who calls a league a Farmers League is just saying there opinion (albeit quite negative!) it is subjective.
No league is actually a farmers league unless there is a league out there that is unknown and exclusive to those who work on a farm.
Q: Does being called a farmers league imply that the teams in the league are not skilled?
A: The term “farmers league” implies a perception that the overall skill level of teams in the league is lower compared to other leagues. However, it does not necessarily mean that individual teams within the league lack skill or talented players.
Q: Are there any positive aspects to being called a farmers league?
A: Being called a farmers league is generally viewed as negative, as it diminishes the reputation and prestige of the league. However, some argue that it can motivate teams to prove their worth and strive for improvement in order to shed the derogatory label.