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Football Language: Top Flight

Top flight

In this football language post we explain the phrase ‘top flight‘ which refers to the top division in a league (for example, the Premier League in England and the Bundesliga in Germany). Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary and we also have a page full of football cliches. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

Football Language: Top Flight

The phrase ‘top flight‘ is associated with something that is seen as the highest or the best in its field. So, for example in football we use the phrase ‘top flight‘ to refer to the highest division in a league such as the Premier League or La Liga. Since the Premier League replaced the old Division One in 1992 fans and commentators often use the phrase, ‘the top flight‘ in order to avoid confusion. Top flight can also act as an adjectival phrase such as ‘top-flight football‘ (e.g. The Premier League), ‘top-flight team‘ (a team playing in the highest division) or ‘top-flight experience‘ when we want to say that a player has played at the highest level or in the top flight.

Example: ‘Thirty-two years on, live top-flight football returns to the BBC’ (Guardian, June 2020). This headline explains that Premier League football (Division One) has returned to the BBC after a long time without any live coverage.

Example: ‘Coronavirus could cost top-flight European clubs £3.5bn’ (BBC, May 2020).

Related Vocabulary

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions or questions, contact us at
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Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

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