It has just been a week since Ukraine crashed out of Euro 2016, an event that took the focus away from the troubles of the Ukrainian Premier League, and instead directed it toward the national team.
Now on June 28, the Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) takes centre stage once again, as Tribuna and the Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk fan page FCDnipro.com announced in unison that Dnipro owner Ihor Kolomoyskyi has chosen not to pay off the club’s debts. As a result the 2014-15 UEFA Europa League finalist will likely cease to exist.
Kolomoyskyi apparently tried to avoid paying his debts, while at the same time attempting to maintain the club. Dnipro, which was already banned from the Europa League, wanted to move the licence of one of the other teams that are owned by Kolomoyskyi’s Privat Bank—Volyn Lutsk or FC Naftovyk Okhtyrka—to Dnipropetrovsk and use it to play Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk instead.
Volyn Lutsk was given a UPL licence on June 3, despite the fact that the team carries major debt to players, coaches, and agents. There is now speculation that Volyn was given the licence in expectation that Dnipro could fold, and that Kolomoyskyi could relocate Volyn’s licence to Dnipropetrovsk, as a replacement club that had no European ban.
Naftovyk, meanwhile, plays in the Persha Liga (second division), and there are doubts that the club was truly slated to be moved to Dnipropetrovsk, especially after it emerged that Dnipro will likely be re-founded in the Persha Liga, after the Volyn Lutsk plan fell through.
Indeed, FCDnipro.com quoted one club official, who stated that Dnipro will restart life, as a new club in the second division.
Futbolgrad has since learned that a final decision on the future of the club is yet forthcoming, but what is undoubtedly true is that the club has outstanding debts, and that Kolomoyskyi is refusing to pay them. As a result, the termination of the club could indeed become a reality.
Furthermore, many of the club’s star players have since departed the team, or are in the process of negotiating deals with new clubs. It is therefore likely that the dissolution of the club will be announced within the next few days.
This would be an additional huge setback for the Ukrainian Premier League, which has already lost another major club—Metalist Kharkiv. Metalist will definitely be dissolved, and it is expected that the club will begin its next life as a new entity in one of the lower divisions.
Hence, with the start of the UPL just weeks away, this latest collapse of a major club will bring further uncertainty over the actual setup of the 2016-17 UPL season, as the league will likely have to draft a replacement from the second division.
Hence, Cherkaskyi Dnipro, which were already favourites to replace Volyn Lutsk, will most likely be promoted from the Persha Liga contingent upon Dnipro’s bankruptcy. It seems likely, therefore, that Dnipro will, for now, disappear from the Ukrainian football landscape—but those of you, who are familiar with the Ukrainian football scene, will be aware that the final sentence on Dnipro has not yet been spoken. Don’t be surprised, therefore, if there is another twist in the story…