The State of Kazakh Club Football

May 27, 2019

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Kazakh Premier League

Founded: 1992

Most Championships: Aktobe / Astana / Irtysh, 5

Last 5 Winners: Astana (18, 17, 16, 15, 14)

UEFA Ranking: 24th

Highest Ranked Club: Astana, 57th

Interview with Alexandr Strelnikov, editor-in-chief of the most popular Kazakhstan sports Internet portal

Kazakhstani club football has started to make an impact on the European stage in recent years. What is the reasoning for this and what’s the current state of Kazakh football?

It so happened that in recent years, Kazakhstan football has made a breakthrough in European club tournaments. First, Shakhter (Karaganda) reached the group stage of the Europa League, then Astana go into the Champions League group. And now, for several years, Astana, a five-time champion of Kazakhstan in the last five seasons, has been constantly playing in group tournaments of the Europa League.

The main reason for this success, of course, is a generous investment in football. The football clubs of the strongest division of the Kazakhstan Premier League are maintained mainly at the expense of local regional budgets. In the case of FC Astana, it is necessary to note the well-built club’s management. However, the club management from the capital at the end of the season-2018 has changed. And now Kazakhstani fans are waiting for the start of the qualification of the Champions League and the Europa League with some caution.

At the moment, Kazakhstani club football is experiencing financially not the best of times. This is primarily due to the serious devaluation of the national currency, the tenge, as well as the general crisis in the country.

Is the money that’s in Kazakh football going to continue indefinitely do you think?

Of course not. Money has long run out. Every year Kazakhstani clubs live more economically. This is an objective reality.

What constitutes a successful season for Kazakh clubs in Europe?

FC Astana have set a high bar – now for any Kazakhstan club the season in Europe will be considered successful if it enters the Europa League group stage. As a minimum.

Do most of the nation get behind the Kazakh clubs in Europe or is tribalism apparent?

Most Kazakhstan fans support all of our clubs in Europe – unlike many fans of other countries. Although there are, of course, irreconcilable fans of concrete clubs – they rejoice at the failures of other clubs from their native country.

How do you think Europa League 2 will affect the Kazakh clubs?

It is difficult to say how the Europa League 2 can affect Kazakhstan clubs. For fans it will be interesting, I guess. But it is clear that payments from UEFA in this tournament will be quite small, and therefore it is difficult to say how much this tournament can be beneficial for clubs financially.

What do you think UEFA can do to better helps the minnows of European football?

It is hard to say. Football clubs in different countries have different, too different problems. Example: FC Astana was severely punished by UEFA for violating the Financial Fair Play rules. This punishment has just ended. But the fact is that the Kazakhstan club did not break anything – just the scheme of its financing by the national company is not too clear for UEFA, who considered this a violation. Probably, UEFA would have been more condescending towards the “minnows” of European club football in this regard.

Interview with Alexandr Strelnikov, editor-in-chief of the most popular Kazakhstan sports Internet portal

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Author: Tom Mortimer

Tom is the editor at Betting Circle and has been creating online content for over 10 years. Tom mainly writes about sport and gambling, but every now and then also delves into fleshier subjects like politics and psychology. When he was 18 he created and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer,, among many others.

Twitter @TMortimerFtbl

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