The organising committee of the proposed Joint Russian and Ukrainian championship have confirmed that the Russian Premier League have voted in favour of the proposal. The matter will now go to the Russian Association and the corresponding authorities in Ukraine.
Valery Gazzaev, president of Russian club, Alania Vladikavkaz, told reporters, “Innovation is never easy, even the World Cup and European Championships had doubters in the game. The English, who founded the game, were sceptical about such championships.
“We have had the same doubts about our project but in football, a policy of integration is now necessary. Look at the European Championship in 2020, which will be held across 13 countries.
“Given the economic crisis in Europe few territories can afford to maintain a competitive team. If we draw a combined championship with Russia and Ukraine we will improve entertainment, as well as football and financial stability.
“Half of Russian clubs are unprofitable (a considerably lower portion than UK clubs), 70% are subsidised by governmental budgets, this is wrong. A Joint League will enable teams to earn money to pay their own way.
“We want to create a strong league which will compete with the best in Europe.
“The plan is to hold the first joint championship in 2015-16. Teams will compete in European competitions under their national flags. The national quotas for participation in the tournament will remain the same, so if ranking does not change, Russia and Ukraine will be represented in the Champions League by six teams.
“Our proposal is fully consistent with Uefa strategy. Uefa understand that, under the current league structures, Financial Fair Plan will weaken our clubs. A combined championship gives us a solution.
“Part of the budget for the new league will come from the sale of media rights. The remaining amount will be generated from sponsors. It’s not just about Gazprom, other major Russian, Ukrainian and international companies will be involved (no mention of Flamingo Land yet).”
Make no mistake, this project’s viability is underwritten by political and financial muscle. Gazprom are a huge player in world energy markets, as well as European football sponsorship, while politicians in Moscow and Kiev see football as a ‘political football’.
They have the money and backers to ensure this slips through Uefa, creating an important blueprint in the process. Note specifically that Champions League spots will be retained by each nation, a hugely important point for integration elsewhere.
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