Post-Soviet league plan takes step closer
MOSCOW (AFP) –
The ambitious plan to create a post-Soviet football league grouping the best teams of the former USSR took a step closer Thursday when its powerful backers announced the creation of an organising committee to realise the plan.
The head of the Russian premier league Sergei Pryadkin told reporters that the top flight division would organise the realisation of the project, which has received backing in the highest levels of the Russian elite.
“Today we want to announce the creation of an organising committee that will choose the future direction of work,” he told reporters, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.
He stressed that the project would be worked out in coordination with the Russian Football Union and still required approval by European football governing body UEFA.
The idea has been strongly supported by Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg as well as Moscow’s CSKA and big-spending Anzhi of Makhachkala in the Caucasus.
“The championship would have a chance to be successful in Europe, make the football more attractive and increase commercial potential only in the case of a union,” said Zenit’s president Alexander Dyukov.
Improving the quality of the domestic league is a major priority for Russia as it prepares to host the World Cup in 2018.
Fans across the former Soviet Union still remember the days of the Soviet League when their favourites battled with strong opponents.
Moscow clubs Spartak, CSKA and Dynamo competed along with the best Ukrainian sides like Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk and teams from Belarus, Armenia and Georgia, who also won Soviet titles.
If the dream was realised, it would set up mouth-watering regular clashes between the current strongest sides of the ex-USSR like Russia’s Zenit, Ukraine’s Shakhtar and BATE Borisov of Belarus.