The Myanmar National League is the premier national professional football league of Myanmar. In 2009, the league replaced the Myanmar Premier League, which consisted only of 14 Yangon-based football clubs, with eight professional clubs representing different regions across the nation. On 16 May 2009, the league launched its inaugural two-month tournament, the Myanmar National League Cup 2009 in preparation for the first full season in 2010. Despite its national ambitions, the league held the MNL Cup 2009 matches in the country's two main stadiums in Yangon due to the lack of adequate facilities elsewhere. On 5 July 2009, Yadanabon FC defeated Yangon United FC in the MNL Cup final to become the first-ever MNL Champions.
The league added three clubs for the 2010 season and one more club joined for the 2011 season, bringing the total to twelve clubs. Two more clubs representing the Chin and Shan States will participate in the MNL season starting in January 2012.
Promotion and relegation will be added by the 2014 season as the MNL looks to expand once again.
In the past, professional football competition in Myanmar has only existed in a limited form. All premier leagues up to this point have been made up of Yangon-based football clubs, most of which were affiliated with government Ministries. It was only after 1996, when the Premier League was relaunched as the Myanmar Premier League that non-government clubs were invited to join the league. Still, the league was based only in Yangon, and never caught the imagination of Burmese football fans, who follow European football with near religious fervor.
The Myanmar Football Federation sought approval from the government to launch a nationwide league in February 2008, and finally received permission to set up private clubs in December 2008. Each club was permitted to sign at most five foreign players and one foreign coach. The government granted each club tax exemptions for an initial three-year period, while each club owner must provide a minimum initial investment of K200 million (approximately US$200,000). It was expected that the annual operating cost for each club would be about K500 million (US$500,000). The investment apparently covers costs such as salaries, transportation and equipment, but does not include the club stadiums, which are all nationalized.