Is this the end of the Ukrainian Premier League as we know it?


With the political issues effectively stopping the football in Ukraine at the moment, and two clubs, Kryvbas and Arsenal Kyiv, going bankrupt in the last 6 months, is the league slowly petering out into nothing?

Bar the top few; Dynamo Kyiv, Shakhtar, Dnipro and Metalist, as well as Chernomorets, Illychivets and Sevastopol – the rest are pretty much un-sustainable, and are merely in the league to make up the numbers. Rich owners often own a lot of clubs, and such as Arsenal Kyiv and Kryvbas – the owner got bored and stopped funding them. Within a few months both went bankrupt, and years of history vanished.

Having read several articles on the issues there, it seems that below the Premier League, barely any club can afford to get promoted, as they have to prove they have the funds to compete. With Arsenal gone, there is just 15 teams now, with nobody set to come up. Even last season, bar Kryvbas, not club was relegated as nobody could come up. The competition in the league has evaporated along with the money. Teams like Shakhtar and Dynamo Kyiv would rather import Brazilian talent and make profits than nourish young Ukrainian players, as there is no money to be made in it.

We quite like the league, over the last few seasons it has been rather entertaining. But recently, games have been cancelled left, right and centre as teams literally cannot afford to play. Now the winter break has ended, political issues have stopped the league completely, no games have taken place since the restart. With just 15 teams, and nobody able to come up, the league has to be decreased to either 14 or 12 teams, which will make it the only league in Europe with a capacity of over 10 million with less than a 16 team league.

Those 12 could be Metalist, Shakhtar, Dnipro, Kyiv, Sevastopol, Illychivets, Chernomorets, Vorskla Poltova, Zorya, Karpaty, Metalurg Donetsk and Volyn.

The three to be relegated are three that shouldn’t really be there, having been technically relegated quite often. Metalurg Zaporizhya, Hoverla and Tavriya – all three may fair better in the 2nd division, with less financial obligations to meet. On the whole the quality would go up, as those three mentioned are the whipping boys of the league. The format would possibly match that of the SPL, with 3 rounds of games, and then the league splitting into two for one final round, or the Belgian Pro League, which is similar to that in the SPL too.

With no teams coming up, a licence system, like you see in Rugby League, could be used. A team is analysed, and if fit to stay, regains a 3 year licence. If the team finishing last does so each year, a new, financially sound team could replace them. Either way the madness cannot go on – something needs doing, and once this political situation is solved, and the season ends – hopefully something will be, as the current system is slowly failing.

If it does go to a 12 team league – UEFA would take away European places, with possibly one entrant into the Champions League and Europa League, and at that it would be into the early qualifying rounds, making it unlikely that we would see Chernomorets, Dynamo Kyiv and Dnipro competing all at once in the Europa League. This occurance would decrease the already dwindling income of these teams, making it less likely the league will improve.