Ukraine Scales Back Top Flight Football League Amidst Political Crisis

By iSportconnect | July 4, 2014

The ongoing political crisis in Ukraine has continued to damage the country’s sporting efforts, as football bosses cut the top-flight to 14 teams for next season.

Although not outwardly stated, the ongoing tensions between the country and Russia are believed to have played a part in team’s leaving the league.

Sevastopol was disbanded at the end of last season, after owner Vadim Novinsky decided to leave the Crimean-based side.

Stal Alchevsk, who were promoted last year, have decided that financial difficulties mean they cannot compete in the top flight.

“The situation in the country and within the country’s football is very complicated,” Ukraine’s Football Federation (FFU) chief Anatoly Konkov told reporters on Friday.

“We were hoping to the bitter end that Sevastopol and Stal Alchevsk would be able to play in the Premiership next season but they withdrew for various reasons leaving us no alternative but to reduce the league to 14 teams.

“But we (FFU) are ready for any surprises. Football in Ukraine is not dead. There are certain difficulties but we will surely overcome all of them.”

Last year Arsenal Kiev left the 16-team Ukrainian Premier League, again because of financial difficulties.

Because of the military conflict between government troops and pro-Russian rebels, teams were forced to play away from Donetsk and Lugansk for domestic and European ties.

Champions Shakhtar Donetsk are likely to play home games at the regional centre Cherkassy, some 160km away from the capital.

Other sports have been affected too, with the governing body for basketball, FIBA, stripping the country of the 2015 EuroBasket competition.