Economic Crisis: FC Moscow Leaves the RPL for Financial Concerns

Sergey ZikovSenior Analyst IFebruary 5, 2010

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 18: Pavel Golyshev (L), Dacosta Goore, Martin Jakubko, Aleksei Rebko and Isaac Okoronkwo of FC Moscow celebrate after scoring during the Russian Football League Championship match between FC Moscow and FC Krylia Sovetov at the Eduard Streltsov Stadium on October 18, 2009 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Dmitry Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images)
Epsilon/Getty Images

It's true, nobody is immune from the current economic crisis.

The favorite club of Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov, FC Moscow, has pulled out of the Russian Premier League with immediate effect.

The Caps had just completed their ninth consecutive season in the top flight of Russian football, after finishing sixth place in 2009 with 48 points and just missing out on a spot in the Europa League.

Previously financed by mining giants MMC Norilsk Nickel, the company announced two days ago that they would be terminating the contract with FC Moscow. Despite protests from both players and supporters alike, the company's decision held and it was deemed impossible that the club could continue playing in the RPL.

It is widely assumed that 3rd-place 1st Division team Alania Vladikavkaz will assume the place of FC Moscow in the Premier League for 2010. Alania has not played in the top flight since 2005 but had an excellent run in mid-1990s, becoming the first non-Moscow based club to win the championship.

But it is a disheartening end for the Caps.

FC Moscow has never been a rich club and has always been looked on as "that other club", vastly overshadowed by goliaths CSKA, Spartak, Dinamo, and Lokomotiv. Because of this, they have gained the title of least-followed club in the RPL in terms of fan support. On most home dates, their stadium is filled with visiting ultras.

Even so, they have consistently been able to put together tremendous seasons, overachieving by miles. In fact, the club had not finished outside of the Top 10 in six years, despite losing all their talented players on a yearly basis.

The 2010 winter transfer period was no different.

The Caps starting lineup was picked to pieces by the bigger Moscow clubs. Talented young midfielder Dmitri Tarasov headed off for Lokomotiv, RFU Top 33 right back Kirill Nababkin departed for CSKA, and a trio of Alexandru Epureanu, Aleksandr Samedov, and Edgaras Cesnauskis all marched off to Dinamo.

But despite all these sales, which raised over €20 million, the club could still not stay afloat.

Maybe there were just too many Moscow-based clubs in the league? Although the city is the largest in Europe, six out of 16 in the RPL was excessive, especially when the smaller ones were forced to compete with the backing of Gazprom, Lukoil and other economic giants.

Maybe with their incredible success, the Caps luck simply ran out? After years of operating with very little income, it was only a matter of time before the economy finally caught up with the sinking club.

But either way, there are a number of fine players still remaining on the FC Moscow roster that will now be searching for a new club. Most prominently holding midfielder Aleksei Rebko, who made his Sbornaya debut on September 5 against Liechtenstein and was widely believed to be on the move after the 2009 season ended. But Rebko was loyal, and now he must test the open market.

He will most likely be offered a new job sooner rather than later, however.

Some players, like Belorusian international keeper Yuri Zhevnov are not so lucky. The 28-year-old was the key component to the Caps successes in 2009 but has not been offered any contracts elsewhere. Most of the top clubs already have a starting goalkeeper and the lesser clubs will most likely not be able to afford him.

It's a sad day for the Russian Premier League to lose a club that has truly played inspired football under Miodrag Bozovic.