The State of Russian Club Football
May 27, 2019
Russian Premier League
Most Championships: Spartak, 10
Last 5 Winners: Zenit (18/19, 14/15), Lokomotiv (17/18), Spartak (16/17), CSKA (15/16)
UEFA Ranking: 6th
Highest Ranked Club: Zenit, 19th
What is the current state of Russian football? Since the successful days of CSKA Moscow in Europe, things seemed to have dropped off?
Things have dropped off for sure. A lot of that is due to financial sanctions imposed by the west on the country following Russia’s policies in the Crimea. As a result, the currency has been devalued and the glorious days of the oligarchs has also come to an end.
How much has the Russian player quota rule affected the RPL?
I think the economic effects were more severe than the quota rule. What you do see though is that young Russian players are overpaid and, therefore, less likely move to more competitive leagues.
The Russian league doesn’t have one single dominant side. Is that a help or a hindrance?
I think it makes the league more interesting. Generally speaking, however, Zenit should be that dominant side given the resources they have. That said this year Zenit walked away with it and I reckon they will next year as well.
What is seen as a successful year for RPL clubs in Europe?
It depends on the club. They all want to survive the group stage and the first round of the knockouts, which is hard because of the long winter break. For Zenit, it has to be a title at some point.
Do most of the country get behind the Russian sides playing in Europe or is there a lot of tribalism still apparent?
I think it is like every country. Casual fans will support clubs from their country, the more hardcore are more tribal.
How is the EL viewed in general by Russian football fans?
It depends more on the opponents rather than the competition. Champions League is always a hit, Europa League is popular if they play a big team.
How do you think the Europa League 2 will affect Russian EL performances and what has been the reaction to the formation of the competition in Russia?
I haven’t seen much of a reaction. Personally, I think the EL 2 can be a good idea as long as it opens the doors to smaller clubs from countries that won’t get much European football. Delegating clubs that would currently play in the Europa League seems like breaking down an attractive competition.
What would you like to see UEFA do to level the playing field more for small European sides?
I would like to see more different countries in the Champions League. Also, I think it should be a proper Champions League. Kick out the fourth place teams and include Cup winners instead. They won something and should be there.
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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 HungarianFootball.com and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer, Goal.com, among many others.