Russia-Ukraine Unified Championship Football League To Appear 'No Earlier Than 2015'
Unified Championship Organizing Committee Dir Valery Gazzaev said on Wednesday that the proposed league "uniting the Russian and Ukrainian football leagues will appear no earlier" than the '15-16 season, according to R-SPORT. The proposed merger "would see 80 clubs from the ex-Soviet neighbors combined into a four-division structure," with future expansion into other Commonwealth of Independent States countries. Gazzaev, who is also president of Russian second-tier side Alania Vladikavkaz, said that reports that the league might kick off in the '14-15 season "were exaggerated." Gazzaev: "It will probably be '15-16, because it's impossible to do it faster. The documents of (the new league's) statutes that we're preparing will be ready only by then." The idea to reassemble the old Soviet Top League "has been floated for years but it gathered serious steam in November," when Zenit St. Petersburg was punished by the Russian FA for fan hooliganism that led to a league game being called off. The Unified Championship "has found powerful support within the Kremlin, but it must equally overcome stubborn resistance from FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who called the plans 'impossible,'" and Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who said that "Russian money should remain in Russian football," to come to fruition (R-SPORT, 7/10).