March 30, 2022
Our columnist Leonid Romanovich talks about the current situation in Russian club football with a well-known manager, the former head of the Moscow and Rostov clubs, Yuri BELUS.
Photo: Pixabay / jarmoluk
– Yuri Viktorovich, how much has our football lost with the departure of the legionnaires?
– You know, the national championship will always be of interest to the fans. We have clubs with a century of history and a huge army of fans. They will go to the stands even if all the foreigners leave, something that is not happening yet. Elsewhere, for many, the European Cups and the national team are still a point of reference, international performances determine a lot. And if we are in isolation for a long time, the interest in football will definitely decrease. We are now waiting for March 31, when the FIFA meeting in Qatar will decide on Russia’s status in world football. I hope for the best, after all, we are not Zimbabwe, it is not easy to rule out such a country. But the pressure is now strong, anti-Russian sentiment is growing and nothing can be ruled out.
– Meanwhile, the Russian economy is already suffering from sanctions, including companies and entrepreneurs who finance our football. The owner of Spartak, Leonid Fedun, in particular, complains that he has lost most of his property …
– I do not expect a mass departure of clubs from the league, although it is unlikely that anyone will be able to avoid financial difficulties. Fedun himself, I think, will not stop funding Spartak. At the moment you just have to live with your potential. The old days are over, and we can no longer know how long the current situation will last. Of course, existing contracts must be respected, but new agreements must be taken into account when concluding new agreements. The task of club directors now is to maximize resource savings. And if there is no money at all, then you need to sell the players, preferably as profitably as possible. But this is not necessarily followed by failure in the results. All the legionnaires have left Krasnodar and the team is playing unbeaten – 7 points in three rounds.
– The RFU is now applying for state support, we are talking about tax benefits. Will help;
– You know, I’ve been in big football for twenty years, I worked in three clubs and all these years, as far as I can remember, they were discussing tax benefits. They have been discussed and discussed, but there are no benefits yet. The problem is that we still can not decide what our football is. Or it is a state-funded social story through state-owned companies or part of the money-making entertainment industry, as in the West. But, of course, today it will be extremely difficult without such benefits, especially in terms of infrastructure – it is very expensive to maintain the stadiums, including due to taxes. I hope that in the current situation something can change for the better. At the same time, it should be understood that there are more priority areas. In the field of IT, such benefits have been adopted that were difficult to obtain, but there it is understandable: developers are leaving in batches, they must be maintained in some way. Football is also important, albeit only as a social outlet for people in difficult situations, but there is still a difference.
– Much reason for the need to increase the number of games, for the expansion of the Premier League and the moratorium of relegation…
– Of course, it is necessary to increase the number of matches. For example, I would return to the system of the two rounds of the Russian Cup. As for the league, in theory I am in favor of expansion. We have a lot of young players who are ready to prove themselves, we have good teams. But I am categorically opposed to changing the rules during the competition. The regulations are sacred. Next season please. Concentrate at the end of the year, decide on the need to expand, change the formula. And this year everything should be according to the sporting principle: those who have been relegated should be relegated and the best teams from the FNL should go up to the top.
– The inspirers of the moratorium say that the principle of sports has already been violated due to the mass departure of the legionnaires …
– Yes, the legionnaires left somewhere, but they stayed somewhere. But what prevented, for example, Lokomotiv, Rostov or Rubin from creating the same atmosphere as Zenit or CSKA. Why does Krihoviak gather legionnaires in Krasnodar and persuade them to leave, while in CSKA Yazidzi also gathers them so that everyone can stay?
– There is a risk in the new reality that many clubs will not be ready to play in the Premier League due to lack of funds…
– I do not think, after all, from next season, for the first time, we will have significant money from television. And teams like Alania, Yenisei and even more so Orenburg are quite ready to rise. Another thing is that it is time to stop the stupidity with the harsh licenses and let the teams play in the arenas they have. But explain to me why a club from a relatively small town can not play at home with 5-7 thousand seats, but need to wander in Mordovia or even further? This is just stupid!
– Perhaps, in conditions of international isolation, it is better to increase the number of matches due to a two-stage championship. For example, according to the formula proposed by the Dutch in the fall?
– As you know, what is good for a Russian is death for a German and vice versa. In my opinion, the RFU just threw out those 400 thousand euros paid to the Dutch, to no avail. Almost all the managers of our clubs just laugh at their suggestions – they are all separated from our reality.
– Then is it time to return to the “spring-autumn” system, since we still do not play in European competitions?
– This is a very difficult question, there are pros and cons. The fact that Zenit and CSKA once pushed for the transition to the autumn-spring system was pure nonsense. Then they said that we would go to the European system and immediately start dissolving everyone, but it turned out the opposite – all the main successes of our club were achieved with the previous system. However, there are some advantages to the current version. The champion no longer has to wait a whole year to start in the Champions League. I would like to believe that we will not always be excluded from world football, which means that once every two years we will still have to interrupt the season for a long time in the summer due to the World Cup and the European Championship. We recently had an argument with Andrei Arshavin on TV about this. He is a supporter of the immediate return to the “spring-autumn” system. I think at the moment it is impossible to make sudden movements. As my professor at the medical university used to say, in difficult births, the tactics must be “actively expected”. That is, we strategically wait, but at the same time we work actively.
The material was published in the newspaper Saint Petersburg Vedomosti No. 56 (7139) dated March 30, 2022 with the title “There is no time for sudden movements”.