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New football Super League could unite the best Russian and Ukrainian clubs by 2014

Published time: December 14, 2012 10:43
Edited time: December 14, 2012 14:47
Zenit St. Petersburg's defender Tomas Hubocan against Shakhtar Donetsk's forward Eduardo in the UEFA Champions League's group stage match. (RIA Novosti/Vadim Zhernov)

Zenit St. Petersburg's defender Tomas Hubocan against Shakhtar Donetsk's forward Eduardo in the UEFA Champions League's group stage match. (RIA Novosti/Vadim Zhernov)

A football Super League featuring the best teams from Russia and Ukraine could be launched in 2014, top Russia football officials speculate.

The idea of creating something similar to ice hockey’s KHL in football was first voiced by Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller and it seems to be gaining popularity among Russia’s top football officials.

The replacement for the Russian Premier League is primarily aimed at attracting more interest in the competition and consequently increasing the clubs’ revenue to help them meet new UEFA financial fair play rules.

CSKA Moscow president Evgeny Giner suggested the league’s first season could be played 2014-15 at the earliest.

Representatives of Zenit St. Petersburg, Anzhi Makhachkala and the Russian Premier League also backed the plans.

UEFA “has said it will allow the unification of championships,” Giner stated, adding he expected the European governing body to allow the countries involved to keep their current quotas in European competitions.

“We need to make it so there is fan interest, sponsor interest, TV interest,” Giner also stressed.

A study group is expected be set up by the end of the year to design a format for the new league and decide which countries to include.

Contrary to some earlier reports, the Russian football bosses said the new league would neither be a championship for the CIS union of post-Soviet states, nor a franchise system like basketball’s NBA or ice hockey’s NHL.

Head of the Russian Premier League Sergey Pryadkin has shared his ideas on the issue with the R-Sport agency: “It’s possible all 16 Russian [Premier League] clubs will compete and all 14 Ukrainian [top flight] ones.”

“Then we will have to think about creating a second group or some sort of other option,” he added.

Meanwhile, the president of Ukraine’s champions Shakhtar Donetsk, Rinat Akhmetov, has stressed the club will consider the country’s club interests first when making a decision on the issue.