Russia-Ukraine league takes huge step forward


After some horse-trading towards the end of last week, involving a reluctant Spartak Moscow, a huge step was taken on Monday towards establishing a Unified Football Championship across former-Soviet countries.  14 Russian clubs met a representative club from the Ukrainian league in Moscow, with Ukrainian clubs now due a corresponding meeting.

The event was hosted by Gazprom deputy chairman, Alexei Miller, an ally of Vladimir Putin, who afterwards briefed Russian media and indicated Uefa were aware of their plans.

Miller said, “We think it is realistic to hold the championship from the autumn of 2014 to the spring of 2015, but if the time to reach agreements drags on, we plan to hold the championship from autumn 2015 to spring 2016.

“Since a championship like this is a complicated diplomatic matter, we have decided to initiate the championship initially with Ukraine only.

“In the future, if everything works out, we will be able to co-opt clubs from the other countries in the post-Soviet territories, but that’s the next step.  All former-Soviet countries would be eligible to join.”

Show me the money

Gazprom sponsor the Uefa Champions League and are keen to sponsor the new league.  Miller was clear that money would drive the change, promising annual sponsorship of €1 billion, which in world football is (a close) second only to the value of the next FA Premier League TV contract.

Uefa Financial Fair Play requirements make change, of some sort, inevitable in Russia and Ukraine.  Leading clubs there are heavily subsidised by benefactors and, unless they manage to considerably improve their income, they will have to either get rid of all their expensive players, or forgo European competition.

As things stand, the sums don’t add up but money from a Unified Football Championship would allow clubs in Russia and Ukraine to meet Uefa Financial Fair Play requirements and compete with major leagues in the west.  Gazprom have the seed cash and political influence, both domestically and at Uefa, to oil the wheels.

In 2005 Uefa sanctioned the Royal League in Scandinavia between the top four clubs from Denmark, Sweden and Norway, but the initiative was poorly organised and perished three years later due to a lack of a TV deal.

After this experiment several clubs across Europe started lobbying to extend the strategy to other leagues which were disenfranchised by a lack of competition or TV income.  The principle was further confirmed by Michel Platini and the Uefa Executive Committee in March last year, when they approved a three year probationary period for the BeNe League, which combined top women’s teams from Belgium and the Netherlands, the first season of which is now underway.

The Committee stated at the time that, subject to a satisfactory outcome of the BeNe experiment, other cross-border leagues would be considered by the Executive Committee if all stakeholders (national associations, leagues and clubs) came to agreement on a way forward.

The former-Soviet countries are now motivated to regionalise.  The Scandinavians have understood the potential of regionalisation for years but didn’t get it right (they retained national leagues which determined European qualification, the Royal League was effectively a friendly competition).  The Belgians and Dutch have a pan-national league already underway, while the former-Yugoslav countries have  discussed implementing the same for a couple of years now.

Wales and England have the longest-established regionalised league system in the world.

Meanwhile…………. at a national stadium near you, the only change on the agenda is whether to have three lower leagues or two.

Scottish football is fully aware the viability of many clubs is at a critical level, but have singularly failed to present the vision evident elsewhere in Europe.  Whatever world-class technical, stadium and coaching resources we have is being squandered by unambitious leadership.

Months into deliberations Scottish football is only addressing how to slice up an ever-smaller pie.  The enormous increase in income possible from regionalisation to SPL clubs, and what trickles-down to the lower leagues, dos not seem to have registered.

Hard cash can focus minds..

Spartak Moscow owner, Leonid Fedun, was highly critical of plans for the new league and insisted he would not attend Monday’s meeting but after doing so he said, “When I heard the budget per year was €1 billion I changed my mind and decided to attend.  You can’t miss a chance to be the part of that game.”

Football across Europe is set for change, a fact a great deal of the UK media seem to have missed.
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  1. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!.. Ibrox belongs to the creditors on

    Apologies for swear word…….copied this from rm, and didn’t notice swear word …..

  2. Re the Murray Chairmanship of Sevco, articles I have read this morning allude to issues with Murray’s ‘personal life’….the mind boggles.

  3. Estorilbhoy reagarding substance abuse the usual response when a sportsman hints at what you say is to demand that he name names. This is a shut-up tactic because he cannot name names for fear of litigation which he would lose because he cannot prove what he says. The standard of proof demanded in these civil cases is nearer to “beyond reasonable doubt” rather than the balance of probability.”



    In the wake of Phil O’Donnell’s death Gary Caldwell said the following;



    “Sometimes, the fitter you are means you are a time bomb waiting to happen,


    I think something should be done, a study on supplements and energy drinks and stuff that people take to try to improve and get the best out of themselves.


    I don’t know if things like that are involved but I don’t think it can be a coincidence after the amount of incidents in the last year.


    In America for years American football players and bigger athletes have been dropping dead and now in football it has to be looked into because things like this shouldn’t happen.


    I don’t know what it is, but hopefully people who do will look into it.”

  4. Dubaibhoy-"If I signed off the accounts it has been in good faith." on

    Any truth in the rumour that David Gill is resigning from Manu to replace Murray at the real biggest club in the world?

  5. Tallybhoy – I don’t see what all the fuss is about.



    Meat is meat.



    Remember that old saying “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”? Well, now you can, without the trouble of going to France! Instead of being grateful, people are complaining. Well boo-sucks the hairy hun!



    Animals are food. If they don’t like that, they should stop being lazy and start pulling their weight. Take cats for example. Why on earth anybody wants to feed and house a smelly animal that thinks it’s better than you, despite the fact that it sleeps all day and poos in the kitchen, I don’t know.



    The Chinese and 1980’s sitcom character ALF had the right idea about cats. (thumbsup)

  6. I havent had a good view of ST J’s 2nd disallowed goal apart from what i saw via the ‘Sqwerr Sausage’ last night.



    But I dont think the only thing that matters is whether the goalscorer was onside or offside.



    If one or two of his team mates are in that area as well, and the ball gets played towards there, and they are involving themselves in the play then surely they are in an active position and so if they are also in an offside position then the linesman in entitled to flag.



    You cant tell me the other St J players who were in the penalty area when the ball got played in weren’t in active positions, so if 1 of them was in an offside position then the linesman was correct. If none were, then ‘cheers, linesman’!!

  7. Re crowd behaviour last night at the gateway to the highlands, I can report 2 daft wee laddies, c.15yo, noising up what seemed to be a fairly affable, chubby member of the Tayside Constabulary. They seemed to unfurl the occasional flag. What the flags had on them, I have no idea. How these laddies can afford £26 for a brief and the same again for a train ticket or bus fare, I have no idea….I’d rather plod ignored them and I’d also rather they just watched the game rather than goad plod into ejecting them, so that they can tell their other wee mates at school the next day how hard they are….other points to note, the 2 female members of the Constabulary provided a welcome distraction in the 2nd half, especially the blonde one. Crikey, what a stunner….

  8. Does anyone really believe a Russian club supported by UEFA sponsor Gazprom would ever be denied entry to UEFA competition due to FFP? Does anyone believe a major club like Man Utd or Real Madrid would?



    Football clubs will continue to act like football clubs, regardless of how much money they have to spend, they’ll spend it and more besides.



    The FFP rules, like taxes, are only for the poor.

  9. Heard on talkspurt that with the tabled new structure in Scottish Football we will be £1M worse off.



    Great incentive that when other leagues are being talked about have budgets in the billions.


    Feckin backwater cuntry we exist in!!





    /Bishop B

  10. from russia with love…….well actually im in turkey on friday(side)any tips would be apreciated …thanks up front

  11. philvis



    Did you know that Italy is the largest producer of horsemeat in Europe?



    25,000 metric tons last year.



    I heard this from the horse’s mouth.







  12. Gordon_J – Horse trading in football? Bloody horses get everywhere these days



    Mostly it’s donkey trading in football.



    I understand Sloth-from-The-Goonies lookalike Filip Sebo is currently available on a free. (thumbsup)

  13. Zonal Marking Celtic Style 2013 Stats:



    10 games


    33 corners conceded


    0 goals conceded



    And we’ve scored 4 goals from our 83 in those 10 games.

  14. If Celtic were to join a bigger and better league, would some supporters be able to cope with us dropping more points away from home or, goodness me, even losing a few games!



    Counsellors at the ready! :-)

  15. The Spirit of Arthur Lee on




    Mitre Mouldmaster



    It’s a fact that, by the time you have finished reading this entry, your hands will have instinctively drifted down to cover your nether regions. The Mouldmaster does that to a person; it was the Candyman of footballs. Parents and schools loved it because it was relatively cheap, and it was certainly nasty. Up and down the country there are millions of Mouldmaster Vets, bearing the tattoo of its rough, basketball-coating on their inner thigh, whose eyes glaze over as they recall the time they went to war. Unless you have felt the stinging kiss of the Mouldmaster during a PE lesson on a witheringly cold day, while wearing shorts that amounted to little more than a piece of elastic and in an environment that was a torture camp in all but name, you cannot truly say that your time on this earth has been justified.



    It’s a serious oversight that it isn’t used as a tool in police interrogations: any fool would sing like a canary rather than have that beast boinging off their skull at high speed. This said, the Mouldmaster had some hidden benefits. Sweet-spotting a half-volley into the business area of a bête noire was a teenage experience only exceeded by the discovery of a swearword in a foreign language. And, as one internet forumista recalled, “on impact, as the ball rebounded off my bollocks, the surge of pain allowed me to unleash a 20-yard screamer into the top corner, before I collapsed in agony on to the red blaise.” Hands up who can relate to that

  16. Tallybhoy – I didn’t know that, thank you.



    I’m hoping Findus or Nestle turn this whole thing into a positive by using the Black Beauty theme in their adverts. (thumbsup)

  17. Show me the money indeed! Why not go the whole hog and just sign fred the shred, if its all about the money just play the markets instead of football games. Forget level playing fields lets become another obscene bloated orginisation like Juve. Leave gifts in hotels for officials like the big boys do. Pay twentysomethings ever more millions every year while the also rans look up and shake their heads in disgust like we used to do at the people who corrupted the game. There was me thinking Celtic were special. Punters, they are so last century.

  18. The Honest Mistake loves being first on



    A few of kojo jungles big joe singing collie detective’s split personalities would go mental.


    Love you a loater in the hoose tails awaggin off oot.

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