Soviet First League
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after 52 seasons
|Level on pyramid||2|
|Promotion to||Soviet Top League|
|Relegation to||Soviet Second League|
|Last champions||FC Rotor Volgograd (1)|
|Most championships||FC Krylya Sovetov Samara (5)|
While the second tier competitions in football among "teams of masters" (an official term for the Soviet professional clubs) existed since 1936, the First League has been officially formed in 1971 out of the Class A First Group. It followed the transitional 1970 season when the Class A was expanded to three groups (Vysshaya Gruppa, Pervaya Gruppa, Vtoraya Gruppa) and discontinuation of the Class B competitions for the 1971 season.
The league existed until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
The second tier competitions and predecessors of the First League has been known as Group B, Group 2, Class B, and Class A, group 2. The number of teams playing at this level fluctuated significantly during the history of Soviet football. In 1940s-1970s the league frequently consisted of several groups. The group winners qualified for the final tournament.
The second tier competitions among "teams of masters" existed since 1936 as part of four groups of eight All-Union competitions where each group represented a tier with Group A representing top tier, Group B representing second tier, Group V representing third tier and so on. Before the World War II the season competitions were inconsistent in every group.
Since after the World War II there existed only top two tiers for football competitions among "teams of masters". The top tier was called Pervaya Gruppa (First Group) and the second tier Vtoraya Gruppa (Second Group). In 1950 those tiers were renamed with the second tier competitions being renamed into the Class B (the top tier became the Class A).
In 1960 Class B competitions were transformed into regional competitions with separate competitions for Russia, Ukraine, and other republics. More transformations took place in 1963 when the second tier competitions were included in the Class A competitions, while the Class B competitions were shifted to the third tier for 1964 season, thus reviving the third level competitions. Following the 1963 reform, the second tier competitions became the Vtoraya Gruppa Classa A (Class A second group) and the top tier being renamed as the Pervaya Gruppa Classa A (Class A first group). The Vtoraya Gruppa did not have multi groups competition with only one group round robin tournament.
After the 1970-1971 reforms there was established the Soviet First League with a single group competition. The league became more consisted with number of teams in league and relegation/promotion rules.
- 1936-1940 Gruppa B (no competition in 1938)
- 1945-1949 Vtoraya Gruppa
- 1950-1962 Class B
- 1963-1969 Vtoraya Gruppa (Class A)
- 1970-1970 Pervaya Gruppa (Class A)
- 1971-1991 Pervaya Liga
One unusual feature of the league was one that have taken place before 1989. The Soviet Football Union tried to eliminate the growing amount of drawn games, thus, intensify the competition. The participated clubs were receiving a point for each drawn game, but the amount of all their drawn games could not exceed a third of all their games played. After that they received no points for any further draws that they earned. In 1987, for example, FC Fakel Voronezh was relegated by being short of a point having received no points for their two extra drawn games. 
Laureates of the Soviet second tier competitions
The teams that either won its group or participated in play-offs are included as well. All seasons are double-round robin unless otherwise indicated in "Notes".
Gruppa B (Group B)
|1936 (spring)||Dinamo Tiflis||ZIS Moscow||Stalinets Leningrad|
|1936 (autumn)||Serp i Molot Moscow||Temp Baku||Stalinets Moscow|
|1937||Spartak Leningrad||FC Dynamo Rostov/Don||Temp Baku|
|1938||not held, part of the Super League|
|1939||Krylya Sovetov Moscow||Lokomotivi Tbilisi||FC Dynamo Rostov/Don||single round robin|
|1940||Krasnaya Zarya Leningrad||FC Spartak Leningrad||Stroitel Yuga Baku|
|1941-44||no competition due to World War II|
Vtoraya Gruppa (Second Group)
Vtoraya Gruppa Klassa A (Second Group of the Class A)
Pervaya Gruppa Klassa A (First Group of the Class A)
|1970||Karpaty Lviv||Kairat Alma-Aty||Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk|
Pervaya Liga (First League)
All-time table (top 20)
There were over 260 teams that played in the Soviet First League.
|SKA Karpaty Lvov||Ukraine||23||1949||1989||813||344||202||267||1058||918||1234|
1Three points for a win. In 1973, a point for a draw was awarded only to a team that won the subsequent penalty shootout. In 1978–1988, the number of draws for which points were awarded was limited.
Soviet football championship among reserves
|Season||Champion||Runner-Up||3rd Position||Top Goalscorer|
|1971||Chernomorets Odessa (1)||Metallurg Zaporozhye||Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk|
|1974||SKA Rostov-na-Donu (1)||Dinamo Minsk||Krylya Sovetov Kuibyshev|
|1978||Dinamo Minsk (1)||SKA Rostov-na-Donu||Karpaty Lvov|
|1979||Zhalgiris Vilnius (1)||Pamir Dushanbe||Karpaty Lvov|
|1980||Kolos Nikopol (1)||SKA Odessa||Metallist Kharkov|
|1982||SKA-Karpaty Lvov (1)||SKA Odessa||Kolos Nikopol|
|1983||Iskra Smolensk (1)||Lokomotiv Moscow||SKA Rostov-na-Donu|
|Metallurg Zaporozhye (1)||Kairat Alma-Ata||SKA-Karpaty Lvov|
|1984||Iskra Smolensk (2)||Zvezda Dzhizak||Nistru Kishinev|
- doesn't include the record of Torpedo Yaroslavl in 1947 Soviet First League
- including the record of Dinamo Stalinabad in 1947–1952
- Evgeni Kazakov. The Soviet First Football League (Первая лига СССР по футболу). History of Soviet football championships. Volume 1 (1936–1969). Litres, 2019
- Trudovye Reservy were replacing Dynamo Leningrad for several season. Later Dynamo was reinstated in their place.
- After 1989 season teams from Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) and Georgia withdrew from the Soviet competitions. Only the two pro-Soviet, pro-Russian teams: Pardaugava (Riga) and Dinamo Sukhumi continued to participate.
- Four teams were promoted due to withdrawal of several teams prior to this season. The fourth team was Lokomotiv Moscow.
- Last season. Russian SFSR clubs form new Russian Top Division with compatriot clubs from Soviet Top League, and other SSR clubs do the same.
- Evgeni Kazakov. The Soviet First Football League (Первая лига СССР по футболу). History of Soviet football championships. Volume 1 (1936–1969). Litres, 2019.
- "USSR First League". KLISF. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2006-06-09.
- Compilation of all game reports for the Soviet second tier. FC Dynamo Moscow website.