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SBD Global/February 19, 2013/International Football

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller Says Russian-Ukrainian Football League Could Open By Fall

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said that a regional football league bringing together the best Russian and Ukrainian clubs "could start as early as next autumn," according to RUSSIA TODAY. The idea "was initially backed by only four Russian clubs" -- Zenit St. Petersburg, Anzhi Makhachkala, CSKA Moscow and Alania Vladikavkaz. Opponents dubbed the idea "crazy" and "impossible." However, it is "becoming more and more realistic." Miller, one of the biggest advocates of the initiative "hopes so." Gazprom owns Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg and sponsors the UEFA Champions League. Gazprom has "hosted a meeting between representatives of 14 Russian top-flight clubs," only Terek and Mordovia did not send their representatives, and one from Ukraine. The supporters of the idea "see the planned Unified Football Championship, as a cash cow that would attract sponsors and TV revenues" to help clubs meet UEFA Financial Fair Play rules. If created, the league will unite the top nine sides from Russia and as many from Ukraine with the prize fund being around €1B ($1.3B). Former Russia coach Valery Gazzaev "is overseeing its formulation." Miller said that "if everything works out all post-Soviet countries would be eligible" (RT, 2/18).
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