July 9, 2010

Ukraine: Ukrainian Premier League, 2010-11 season

Filed under: Ukraine — admin @ 10:27 am


Ukraine is currently ranked #7 by UEFA for leagues in Europe {see this, UEFA League coefficient}.
The 20th season of the Ukrainian Premier League begins the weekend of 9th to 11th July, 2010. Ukrainiian Premier League results, fixtures, table, at, {here}.
Reigning champions are Shakhar Donetsk, who begin their first full season with their giant new futuristic stadium.
Ukrainian Cup holders are the surprise club Tavriya Simferopol. Tavriya was aided by a quarterfinal draw which pitted Ukraine’s Big 2 (Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk). Shakhtar went on to win that match, but lost in the semifinals to overachieving cross-city rivals Metalurh Donetsk. In the final on 16th May, 2010, in Kharkiv’s Metalist Stadium before 21,000, Tavriya Simferopol beat Metalurh Donetsk 3-2 in AET, with the winning goal by Nigerian striker Lucky Idahor in the 97th minute.
Just how unlikely Tavriya’s successful Cup run was can be seen in the results of the 2010 Ukrainian Super Cup played last weekend…Shakhtar demolished Tavriya 7-1.

Tavriya Simferopol are from Simferopol, which is the capital of Crimea, and has a population of around 340,000 {2006 figure}. Crimea, the southern-most region of Ukraine, is an autonomous republic within the nation of Ukraine. Historically part of the Russian empire since the 18th century, the Crimean peninsula was “given” to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954 in a moment of hubris by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The powers that be in the Kremlin did this as an act of “brotherhood” towards Ukraine, never thinking that within 38 years, Ukraine would be independent. Especially since the Black Sea Fleet was, and still is, based in the Crimea. Ukraine has been leasing the ports to the Russians, and a partition of the fleet has been planned, but earlier this year Ukrainian President Yanukovitch has given the Russian navy in Crimea permission to stay until 2042. This has caused an uproar in Ukraine, with opposition leaders insisting Yanukovitch has violated the constitution. The justification Yanukovitch has for this lease extension is that that the new agreement provides for Russia to sell it’s natural gas to Ukraine at a significantly reduced price (about 33% lower), thus helping to end the natural gas crisis that has plagued Ukraine. But many see this as the first step in Russia’s goal to carve up Ukraine and re-take lands which hard-line pro-Russian nationalists feel belong to Russia. It must be pointed out that since Turkey joined NATO in 1955, thus putting NATO and hence the West in control of the vital Bosporus Strait, the Black Sea Fleet’s strategic importance has been diminished. But this is an issue of national sovereignity, and Yanukovitch’s pro-Moscow leanings have gone too far in the eyes of many Ukrainians, {see this article from, from 28 April 2010, by Maria Starozhitskaya, ‘Russia’s fleet in Crimea: what’s the real deal?}

The warm climate of the Crimean peninsula has made it the vacation spot of Russians for generations now, and it’s heavy Russian presence remains, despite the fact that the sky blue and yellow flag of Ukraine flies there. Adding to that mix in the Crimea in recent years are scores of Tatars (ethnic Turks), over 250,000 of whom have been repatriated to the Crimea following the demise of the Soviet Union {see this ‘Crimean Tatars after Ukrainian independance’, from}.
The map and chart shows the 16 clubs in the 2010-11 Ukrainian Premier League season. At the top of the map page, club crests are shown, sized to reflect 2009-10 domestic league average attendances. Attendance was up 18.1% last season in the Ukrainian Premier League. Here are the clubs with attendance increases in 2009-10 compared to 2008-09…
Shakhtar Donetsk: +11,934 per game (27,321 per game in 2009-10).
Metalist Kharkiv: +11,220 per game (26,300 per game in 2009-10).
Karpaty Lviv: + 4,061 per game (14,138 per game in 2009-10).
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk: +3,839 per game (15,767 per game in 2009-10).
Obolon Kyiv: +3,029 per game (4,267 per game in 2009-10).
Tavriya Simferopol: +2,444 (7,917 per game in 2009-10).
Dynamo Kyiv: +2,087 per game (9,794 per game in 2009-10).
Arsenal Kyiv: +836 per game (2,326 per game in 2009-10).

Overall, the Ukrainian Premier League increased it’s average attendances +1,369 per game (to 8,943 per game in 2009-10, versus 7,574 per game in 2008-09).

Attendances will probably increase again, with enthusiasm for the 2012 Euro competition which will be co-hosted with Poland, plus the interest in Shahktar’s new stadium, plus the fact that one of the two promoted clubs is a club that led the second division in attendance last season, Volyn Lutsk. The other promoted club will not help increase attendances overall, because the club plays in a 3,500 venue…that is Ukrainian Premier League newcomers PFC Sevastopol, who hail from Sevastopol, on the south-western tip of the Crimean peninsula. Sevastopol was formerly the home of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, and is now home to a Ukrainian naval base and facilities leased by the Russian Navy and used as the headquarters of both the Ukrainian Naval Forces and the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Sevastopol has a population of around 379,000 {2007 figure}.

PFC Sevastopol are less than a decade old, and the crumbling little stadium they call home sits in stark contrast to the opulent facilities that Shakhtar Donetsk now play in…
The Haves and the Have-nots, Ukrainian version…

When looking at the issues facing pro football these days, competitive imbalance is at the top of the list, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more glaring example of the all-too-prevalent problem of the haves and the have-nots than in Ukraine. The Big 2 of Ukraine, Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk, have won 18 of the 19 Ukrainian titles, with the exception being Tavriya Simferopol winning the first, hastily assembled season (which was basically a half-season that took place in 1992, less than a year after the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Soviet Top League). After that first truncated season, Dynamo Kyiv won 9 straight titles (from 1993 to 2001). Shakhtar Donetsk began their rise to the top when billionaire oligarch Rinat Akhmetov took over ownership of the club in 1996. At that point in time, Shakhtar was considered just a Cup specialist club, with 4 Soviet Cups and then 2 Ukrainian Cups in their trophy cabinet. Shakhtar finally won the league title in 2002, and since then, the club from the heavily industrialized Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has turned the Ukrainian Premier League into a 2-team race. The odd thing with Ukraine is that one of the Big 2, Dynamo Kyiv, does not draw well at all for it’s domestic matches, pulling in less than 10,000 per game…the jaded Dynamo Kyiv fan base only really shows up in force for UEFA Champions League matches. Dynamo Kyiv averaged 22,589 for their 3 CL Group Stage home matches last season, but only 9,794 per game for league games.

A hopeful sign of perhaps an erosion of the Big 2′s stranglehold on the Ukrainian game can be seen in the remarkable growth of the Metalist Kharkiv fan base. Metalist has finished in 3rd place for three straight seasons, and this club from Ukraine’s second-largest city draws well over 20,000 per game these days. When Metalist Kharkiv won promotion back to the top flight in 2004, they were drawing around 8,000 per game. Last season they drew 26,300 per game. Metalist Kharkiv’s coach, the Lviv-born Myron Markevych, now has two jobs, as he was appointed coach of the re-building Ukraine national football team earlier this year. For the sake of the future of Ukrainian football, I hope Myron Markevych can juggle the two roles effectively.
List of largest cities in Ukraine, Cities in Ukraine (by population) {}.
Here is an article from The Global site, on Karpaty Lviv’s surprise win in the 1969 Soviet Cup final. Karparty Lviv were the only second division club to ever win the Soviet Cup…’Ukrainian will, Carpathian pride and the summer of ’69‘, by Igor Khrestin (21 August, 2009).
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, Uktainian Premier League.
Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures,
Thanks to PFC Sevastopol official site, for the photo, Thanks to Metalist Kharkiv official site, Metalist Stadium photos.

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