Damocles the ball. Ukrainian football broke the bottom

Дамоклов мяч. Украинский футбол пробил дно

Third year Ukrainian football is experiencing a powerful crisis in its history.

War and economic decline have taken a Ukrainian football money, which did not spare the oligarchs on their favorite game in full years, writes Valery Litvinski in No. 23 of the journal Correspondent. And without such mindless infusion of the “king” of sport was completely naked.

Football is the most popular sport in Ukraine, his popularity does not depend on the actual athletic performance of domestic players, which do not always give rise to joy. That’s football victory was the largest source of the surge of patriotism and unity of the Ukrainians. Yes, and politicians too: he is the influential Federation and traditionally close ties with the government. In Ukrainian football has always been concentrated the most money, and more than all other sports combined. However, the crisis does not spare anyone: the “bubble” of the national football burst with a Bang. The bigger they come, the harder they fall — the Ukrainian football is in free fall is the third year, and each time it seems that the bottom has felt, he breaks new depths.


The illusion of prosperity and the so-called Golden era of Ukrainian football of the late 2000s — early 2010s has created the money of the oligarchs. Then, in the business and political elite it was fashionable to have a football club and to be compared with colleagues on his progress. The concept of development of domestic football was in the idea to plant a “ball” of another oligarch. And financial-industrial groups willing we were at it — a football club they added weight and prestige within the country. In fact, every oligarch had their own team in the Ukrainian Premier League, with the possible exception of the current President Petro Poroshenko, who has always been far from the sport.

It is the money of the oligarchs has led to the Ukrainian football expensive foreign players, and fans — on tribunes of stadiums. However, the enormous and incredibly inflated contracts went to domestic players. The two flagships of Ukrainian football — Dynamo and Shakhtar — added two top-clubs Dnipro and Metalist. The Pitmen won the UEFA Cup, the greatest achievement in the modern history of Ukrainian football, Kiev and Kharkov regularly and quite successfully played in Euro cups. In the championship of Ukraine was the intrigue and struggle, the public did not hesitate to compare the Ukrainian Premier League with the top European Championships.

But in the background of the Ukrainian football lacked a solid Foundation. Football clubs are not lined up business model, they remained essentially in the hands of oligarchs and exist solely on donations from its owners. Education of youth for the purpose of income on the transfers, diversification costs at the expense of Commerce, in the end, the rejection of mindless blow-UPS of payroll — never heard of it. Football lived in a big way. For Euro 2012 in the country there were new stadiums, there were no signs of trouble.

The revolution and the ensuing war plus economic decline changed it beyond recognition. Naturally, when revenues drop, the oligarchs began to cut costs and abandon non-core assets. When they played enough football managers, it was found that without subsidies the clubs can not exist, and began the process of dying, which scale can be compared with “bankada”, organized by the national Bank headed by Valeria Hontareva. In football, a cleansing carried out by the owners themselves, abandoning the old “toys”.

The first ceased to exist Crimean clubs after the annexation of the Peninsula. Contained them, by the way, also the oligarchs: Simferopol Tavria sponsored the current “Viennese prisoner” Firtash and FC Sevastopol the people’s Deputy Vadim Novinsky. The rest of the team was in a fever — began a months-long wage arrears, the sale of compositions. With the beginning of the war in the Donbas was disbanded metallurg Donetsk, and its owner, the oligarch Sergei Taruta still have one team — the Steel of Kamensky, but now she feels

problems. Then he closed and withdrew from the tournament metallurg Zaporozhye, which went from one local businessman to another and in the end proved to be useless. Ceased to exist and Kharkiv Metalist, although shortly before this he had taken the second place in the championship — the best in club history — and the first time out in the Champions League.

Closed ovesnov in debt Uzhgorod Hoverla, which contained the people’s Deputy Nestor Shufrich. When the problems started Igor Kolomoisky, and he refused to support his Dnieper, effectively bankrupting the club. So, the team that played in the Europa League final just two years later was relegated to the Second League, and now, most likely, and at close.

As a result, in Ukraine there are only two stable club, ready to fight for the top results— Dynamo and Shakhtar. Although they significantly cut costs, abandon the expensive foreign players, saying the policy of Ukrainization and the rejuvenation composition. As before the mass arrival of money in Ukrainian football, in the big game be only Rinat Akhmetov and Surkis brothers, and that in the economy mode.

Дамоклов мяч. Украинский футбол пробил дно

Akhmetov remains in Ukrainian football


Until 2014 in the Ukrainian Premier League took part 16 teams. After the clubs began to close, it became obvious that to support such a number of participants of the championship will be problematic. In the season 2014 / ‘ 15 start out of the 14 clubs, and this season the championship was held in a new format and participated in it only a dozen teams. While Volyn Lutsk was totally uncompetitive, and with the Dnieper and Lviv Carpathians during the tournament, took the 12 and six points, respectively, because of debts to former employees.

The championship was held in two stages. The first 12 teams played a traditional double round Robin tournament. In the second stage the teams were divided into two groups that played among themselves. The first six, the idea was to fight for the championship, the second for survival. Changes of the rules were designed to raise the level of intrigue and struggle in the championship, but, in fact, the only positive effect of this step was the increase in the number of matches of Dynamo and Shakhtar among themselves — the last spectacle of the current Ukrainian football.

No intrigue did not work — explanatory struggle was not for first place, neither for the place nor for survival. The championship turned out to be absolutely disastrous and probably the worst in the history of modern football. And could it be otherwise? Now in the Ukrainian Premier League three teams can’t spend their matches at home. It’s Shakhtar Donetsk and Olimpik, and Zarya Lugansk. Couldn’t play at home and Steel from Comenius, which for two years in the Premier League and are unable to renovate their own stadium. Not always home games could spend, Chernomorets Odessa, the Star of Kropivnitsky of Lutsk and Volyn. As a result, in the Ukrainian championship was a unique achievement — 67 home games of the season were held in other cities, it is as much as 35% of the total number of matches.

The impact of this on the total attendance of the tournament. With the money from football is gone and the fans who used to watch more entertainment game and successful teams. The average attendance in the season 2016 / 17 $ 4.263 the viewer. This is a new record in the history of Ukraine. Even in the early 1990s, football was around more people. Attendance fell by 14.9 % compared with last season, then to the stadiums came to an average of just over 5 thousand people. A sharp decline started after 2014. As season 2012 / ‘ 13 was a record — 12.602 the average person went to football matches. Especially on the statistics of attendance a significant gap with the change in regulations of the championship. The matches of the second six went an average of slightly more than 2 thousand people, after the separation of the group of the attendance of outsiders has fallen by 51 %.

The decline of attendance is due to the loss of major stadiums Donbass. After all, the Donbass arena was the most filled stadium of the country, actively went to the football and Lugansk. The most visited and the only one that got on the average for 10 thousand people at the match, remains Dynamo Kiev, and the result was achieved mainly due to the home games against Shakhtar, who, by the way, and have not collected a full Olympic stadium.

Дамоклов мяч. Украинский футбол пробил дно

Current visitors to the Donbass Arena

A catastrophic decline in attendance is also a Testament to the lack of football clubs have programmes of work with fans and marketing to attract them to the stadium. But it depends on the income of the clubs. But even tough the crisis has not forced teams to at least try to earn, like they do all over the world. It turns out that now in Ukrainian football goes less people than at the Second League of Japan and the third League of Germany.

Despite problems with financing, the Ukrainian team in the majority and do not affect the business model of existence. Many people still play without a title sponsor on t-shirts. Even in the form of Dynamo Kyiv no title sponsor, and bears the inscription No to racism. Also not really try the clubs to sell their talents abroad. With the exception of both aspects are except the Carpathians, however, if c commercial sponsors Lviv is no problem, with the presence of fans in the stands they are obvious. And has not changed this situation even the departure of a miner from Lviv. Among the miners, perhaps the most professionally delivered marketing work and built a club structure, but even this does not cover the problems of life outside the home. Besides the cost of the miner is so large that the denial of club grants from Rinat Akhmetov’s absolutely unreal.


Formally created in Ukraine Premier League, which should encourage the development of clubs and help them earn money. But in fact this organization completely engaged in this work. 2016 at the Premier League’s new head — Vladimir Geninson, he was selected unopposed elections, another candidate is simply not found. Before the election Geninson called himself a crisis Manager, and promised that in three years the Premier League will bring revenue for the clubs. In addition, one of his main promises was to unite all media rights of the football clubs and the creation of a single TV pool. Geninson even said that he would resign if this is not done. For eighteen years of his reign, the single pool have not appeared, the prospects are questionable, but in retirement, he is in no hurry.

While television ratings of Ukrainian football the last three years fall. In principle, if Akhmetov did not own the football club Shakhtar and would not put broadcasts of its games channels Football and Football 2, the domestic football could disappear from the TV screens. Again, the live football is not about business. Profitable could be a show of matches between Dynamo and Shakhtar. “Today we can speak about the decline of interest in the championship and, as a consequence, the revision of approach to the broadcasting of football. In my personal opinion, the price of TV rights of the majority of Premier League clubs are equal to zero. Now football industry is overrated… matches Dynamo — Shakhtar General decline of interest in the audience not affected”,— said the head of sports projects of 1+1 Media Stepan shcherbachev.

The most influential structure in the Ukrainian football Federation remains. FFU has always been sharpened on the political leadership of the country. Therefore, after the revolution of dignity, of course, changed it. The Federation was headed by the MP from the Pro-government bloc of Petro Poroshenko Andriy Pavelko. While Pavelko did not lay down the mandate, moreover, he heads one of the most influential parliamentary committees — budget. Pavelko admits that the political weight helps him manage the Federation. Recently the MP early was re-elected for another five years at the head of the FFU. This election was again uncontested, candidates to manage the richest sports Federation in the country was not. At the head of the FFU Pavelko managed to win the right to host the final of the Champions League season 2017 / ‘ 18 in Kiev. He also promised to fight against match-fixing and corruption in football, but these promises are just words. Match-fixing in the first years after the crisis have become the hallmark of the Ukrainian championship. The players in no money, and delays of salaries have found their own ways to make money, is not always fair.

Neither the UFF nor the Premier League and failed to develop a transparent, understandable conditions of certification of football clubs and to ensure the priority of sport performance. This leads to the fact that the teams in Ukraine continue to disappear. Now on the brink of demise of Steel from Kamensky, who played for two years in the Premier League, holding home matches in the river, and now the money ran out.

In addition, for performances in the new season of the Ukrainian Premier League certificate is not received Desna Chernigiv which took second place in last season’s First League and all the rules got the right to participate in the Highest League of Ukrainian football. In FFU to say that the Gum is not collected the necessary documents, which would testify about the infrastructure and the financial viability of the club to play on the highest Ukrainian level. But you need a set of documents collected Veres Rivne took third place in the First League, this team was invited in the highest football division. The gum claims to have all documents in order and have financial guarantees. And Veres, which is due to the appeal gained the right to participate in the Premier League, the next two years will not even be able to play in their own stadium in Rivne. It turns out that in Ukrainian football more important than results, and baby agility, and the main victories are forged not on the football field, because that is where the Veres just the Gum gave way.

The situation when in the Premier League can’t collect even 12 combat-ready teams, and depart from it, but losing the match, and went bankrupt, killing the level of competition and the strength of the championship. We return to the tournament the two teams, but the overall weak level of competition Dynamo and Shakhtar suffer. Without competition, without a tone in the domestic League, they become weaker on the international stage.


Of course, such a crisis has an impact on athletic performance. The national team of Ukraine completely failed the Euro 2016, losing all three games in the group and not scoring a single goal. After this slap at the team changed the coach and started working to rejuvenate the squad. He led the first team of the country the best football player in the history of Ukraine Andriy Shevchenko. It’s his first coaching experience, and from such a high position. Such career advancement Shevchenko was facilitated by the fact that his direct employer — the head of FFU Pavelko — you have a new coach and godfather.

At the head of the national team, Shevchenko has surrounded himself with Italian helpers and introduced to the team a number of young players. However, if for Euro 2016 at least we got the 2018 world Cup to qualify will be very difficult. If it is still not clear whether or not the team such a problem. But it is clear that with the current team to qualify from the group with Turkey, Croatia and Iceland to Ukraine, most likely, will not succeed. But the world Cup will be held in Russia, so the friends Pavelko and Shevchenko will always be able to say to the aggressor to go and so we did not intend, and do we have generational change, a lot of young people in the team.

In the current qualifying round Ukraine has already lost Croatia played a draw with Turkey and Iceland and beat are only obvious outsiders — Finland and Kosovo. The current fourth place team is in qualifying group is the worst result in our football history. And recently Shevchenko’s team managed to concede in a friendly match even the national team of Malta. The coach explained that the involvement of new players from the nearest pool. But why is the reserve team of the German national team win the confederations Cup, and we lose Malta?

At club level, too bad. Last season was the worst for the Ukrainian clubs in European competition over the last 10 years. The Dnieper was disqualified for the debts, Vorskla and Alexandria lost at the first qualifying stage, and is not the strongest Croatian teams. Miner did not get into the Champions League, and Dinamo in the most prestigious club tournament in Europe ranked last in the group.

Дамоклов мяч. Украинский футбол пробил дно


In the end, all Ukrainian clubs together were able to bring the European Cup in the Treasury of the country of only 5.5 points. This low result was not from the season 2007 / 08 years.


The crisis is not only falling, but also the opportunity for development. Now the Ukrainian football had a unique chance, purified from the fabulous money of the oligarchs, which is here today and gone tomorrow, start development on the European path, at the bottom.

However, while the clubs do not plan to change the model of development, and hopefully just ride out the storm. While it is possible to play in a weak League, where at the forefront of the non-sporting victory, survival and the betting odds. Football officials explain all the problems of political and economic turmoil in the country, not their own inaction.

For all three years, the only attempt to create a new modern club, based on the involvement of fans and medium businesses, remains metallurg Zaporozhye. Enthusiasts on the basis of membership dues in a social organization made a team and said its Second League. But even on such a Metallurgist, developing fans through the initiative, the city has 600 people, and the local authorities in every way put a spoke in the wheel. Now the mayor of Zaporozhye decided to create your own metallurg — municipal. Although utility clubs — the most viable concept in the history of domestic football. Football should be private, and the state is a priori inefficient owner. That is even correct, the positive idea does not resonate, neither society nor the state.

Also, Ukraine could go the way of the Balkan countries to develop youth football and to sell young players in Western Europe. Talent 42 million country enough. But this path is long and requires investments for the future, what in Ukraine is not used, because they want “bread and circuses” now.

In addition, the problem of football in the absence of the leader, the person whose individual success would be the engine of development of the sport in the country, and fueled interest in the population. The love of football was formed on the basis of the success of Valery Lobanovsky and Andriy Shevchenko. After Shevchenko turned first to politics and then to coach this person in the Ukrainian football left and close. Current players applying for a rank of the best, or sit on the bench of the middle class of the German championship or the Olympic stamp goals and third year can’t go. And the most promising Russian coach went to work in Saudi Arabia.

Around football remains the illusion of leadership in the sports sector of the country. But if it can be called a national sport? If you regret your nerves, now is not the time to be a football fan. Instead, you can pay attention to other sports, which have always been in the shadow of football. For example, Boxing and the success of Vasyl Lomachenko or tennis and winning by Elina Svitolina.