Arsenal Kyiv – Is it the End?


In recent weeks I have noticed that Arsenal Kyiv have had all their games cancelled, and thought nothing of it with all the poor weather and fan trouble these leagues get. Only today did I dig a little deeper, and to my disgust found that all backers have withdrawn and unlike most teams in difficulty, they have been offered no help from the FFU (Football Federation) – meaning they are now withdrawn from all competitions and are filing for bankruptcy.

Things have been bad, losing 7-0 to Shakhtar – this is a case of being unable to find financial backers, along with a little overspending attempting to reach Europe.  On October 24, 2013, Party of Regions MP and businessman Oleksandr Onyschenko said that he had stopped financing FC Arsenal Kyiv. He was given the club in May 2013, with debts of £4m, with player wages for the season totalling £6m – which was paid off by Mr Onyschenko – so if he has paid them off, why are the club filing for bankruptcy? We think that the MP cannot find any prospective buyer since that point, and with player wages being £6m a year he does not want to hold onto the failing club any longer. These debts have occurred over the past 2-3 seasons, with their target of European Football now all but a distant memory.

Unfortunately in the current climate, this is going to become the norm. The only saving grace is unless a team can prove they have the finances to last the season, they cannot be promoted – therefore teams cannot get themselves into a mess trying to go for the bright lights of European Football. On the other side – if they cannot prove they can last, they cannot get a licence to play (See Kryvbas). No team has been conventionally relegated since the 2011/12 season. Last season, Hoverla and Metalurg Zaporizhya were both spared as teams coming up could not guarantee finances, bar Sevastopol – who replaced Kryvbas, who like Kyiv suffered financial problems and were relegated due to not being awarded a licence.

Although harsh – this serves as a warning to other sides. Keep your budget tight, as there is more chance of getting relegated through financial issues than actual relegation through the league.

Although Kyiv are no world beaters, during the Soviet period they won 4 titles in the 1980’s, and have been persistent 1st Division competitors for the past 10 years, at least. They have competed in Europe twice in the past 12 years, never getting past the Qualifying stages though. I have no doubt that like the old Wimbledon, they will re-form in the lowest division and work their way up, with a slightly altered name. Either way we hope to see them in 10 years time back in the top league where a team of their calibre belong.

One may only hope someone steps in, but with their debt nobody would sink their money into a team likely to be relegated many divisions, or worse be liquidated…Rather depressing, one can only feel for the fans! Any prospective buyer would possibly have to pay Onyschenko what he paid off – surely there is some oil-rich multi-millionaire who would relish the chance to take a crack at the big boys with a household name in Arsenal Kyiv? However, it seems Onyschenko has been trying to find such a person for 6 months, financing the team in the meantime, but now has had enough.

This comes a few months after Rapid Bucharest were relegated to Liga II in Romania – so as we know this isn’t a isolated incident. Football is becoming too expensive for some to survive without breaking regulations.