Among all the Iranian teams Persepolis has had the most impressive record of titles. The Tehran derby between Persepolis and its arch rivals Esteghlal, is always a closely followed match and victory or loss can make it or break it for one of teams. According to the AFC, Persepolis is Asia's number one supported club team. Only Dalian Shide and Al-Hilal have similar support in Asia.
Persepolis was established in 1963 by Ali Abdo. At that time Persepolis Sports Club had a basketball, bowling and volleyball team. Abdo had come to Iran from the United States and was a championship boxer. When the football club was established as well, it was quite weak, and participated in the 2nd division of the country. The best player on the team then was Mahmoud Khordbin. When Shahin F.C. was dissolved , a number of the Shahin players moved to Persepolis, thanks to Parviz Dehdari and Masoud Boroumand. The club had a friendly with Jam Abadan, (a respected team at the time), and afterwards the rest of the Shahin players joined Persepolis as well. Persepolis started the 1968 season with Parviz Dehdari as manager. That year no league competition was held, as many teams had been dissolved, so a 44 team tournament was held, and Persepolis, along with Pas, Taj, and Oghab finished top of the group.
When the Iranian Revolution took place, the club fell apart and many of the old players did not return. The club was taken over by the Oppressed and Veterans Substratum and renamed into Azadi (freedom in Persian). After a brief period the substratum did not want the club anymore and it was placed under the responsibility of the Physical Education Department of Iran and renamed Pirouzi (victory in Persian), although most fans still call the team by its original name, Persepolis.
The club only played in the Tehran League and various elimination tournaments. Persepolis was extremely successful during this time and maintained its popularity winning the Tehran League five seasons in a row.
The 1990s were a dream decade for the team, four league championships, two Hazfi Cups, dozens of great players and renewed support saw the team regaining the form and spirit the team of the '60s and '70s had. At one point more than six Persepolis players were starters on Iran's national team.
The team first put itself back in the spotlight by winning the national championship in the 1995-96 season. At one point in that season they were 10 points behind Firouz Karimi's Bahman F.C., but were able to storm back and finish first, six points ahead of the league runner up. They were able to win the league again the next season, once again finishing ahead of the runner up by six more points. They were stopped by Korean side, Pohang Steelers in the semi-finals of the Asian Champions' Cup. Persepolis finished third, defeating Iraq's Al-Zawraa in the 3rd place match.
The next season they showed good form again, but due to their commitments in the Asian Champions Cup' and the large number of national team players they had they withdrew from the league. The poor scheduling and mismanagement of both the I.R.I.F.F. and AFC officials led to this unprofessional act. They could possibly have won a third league championship in a row, but it was not to be. Persepolis did not have much luck in the
Asian Champion's cup either, as they were once again stopped in the semi-finals, this time by Chinese club, Dalian Wanda. They lost the 3rd place match as well to Al-Hilal.
The 1996-97 and 1997-98 Persepolis teams are considered by many to be among the greatest Iranian clubs to ever play. National team players and future superstars such as Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, Khodadad Azizi, Karim Bagheri, Ali Daei, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Mehrdad Minavand and many more were among the players who played for the club in those years.
After World Cup 1998, several of Persepolis' best players were transferred to European clubs, but Persepolis was able to keep a talented squad. Future national team members, Ali Karimi and Hamed Kavianpour would join the team at the time, dazzling many with their skill and flair during games. They won the 1998-99 championship as well as the Hazfi Cup that season. They also won the 1999-2000 league championship, finishing third again in
the Asian Champions' Cup. This would be their last championship in the Azadegan League era.
Most of Persepolis' championships at the time were won while Ali Parvin was the manager, and Amir Ali Abedini was the chairmen. While they did help win many trophies for Persepolis, most agree that with the amount of talent they had, any other result would be surprising.
Persepolis entered the newly established IPL looking to dominate once again, but near the end of the season they were in a very close race with their rival Esteghlal. Esteghlal's loss and Persepolis' win on the last day of the league, gave Persepolis another championship. Their 2001-02 season championship made them the first ever IPL champions. The next season though was the beginning of the fall of the team. The 2002-03 proved to be extremely difficult and Persepolis finished third, never managing to come close to eventual winners, Sepahan. They also fell apart in the newly created AFC Champions League, failing to advance out of the group stage.
When Akbar Ghamkhar took over as club chairman, he made a series of promises, that he insisted would help the team gain its old form. He made the amount of player and staff salaries publicly known, severely angering Parvin who was making more than any of the players on the team. Ghamkhar hired Vinko Begović, and went on a spending spree, buying several prominent players. Persepolis started off very well in the 2003-04 season but eventually fell apart, as rumors of team disharmony appeared. Begovic left the team and German manager Rainer Zobel was bought in. Many questioned if Zobel or Parvin was making the decisions, as Parvin had been bought back, taking the position of technical director. The 2004-05 was again filled with disappointment as the club finished 5th in the standings.
Ghamkhar was replaced with Hojatollah Khatib. He decided to bring back Parvin. At the same time Persepolis's major financial problems began to appear and Khatib was not able to repair or stall the damages Ghamkhar's free-spending had done. Persepolis finished the 2005-06 season 9th, the lowest it had ever placed. Parvin had left the club in February of 2006, vowing to never return to Persepolis again. He had decide to leave after a loss to Fajr Sepasi in Azadi Stadium, by a score of 4-2. After the game, the fans began swearing at Ali Parvin and the players.
Khatib resigned as chairman and Mohammad Hassan Ansarifar was elected chairman by the club council. Arie Haan was bought in as the replacement, helping the team make it to the Hazfi Cup final, but he was fired by the club just before the 2006-07 season began as he had problems with club management. Turkish manager Mustafa Denizli signed with the team on August 17, 2006.When Mustafa Denizli could not win the Hazfi Cup on September 2006 and june 2007 and also finished third on IPL he left persepolis after Mohammad Hassan Ansarifar's resign on june 2007.Habib Kashani became the club chairman on june 2007 and he choosed Afshin Ghotbi as the coach of Persepolis for 2007-08 started the season.Afshin GhotbiIPL with 3-2 win over Sanat Naft F.C. and continued with 6 wins in 8 matches and Persepolis went to the top after 4 years.