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Russian Premier League approves expansion to 18 teams, seeks Union approval

A final decision may be taken later by the executive committee of the Russian Football Union

MOSCOW, June 6. /TASS/. Russia's top football division, the Russian Premier League (RPL), will present its decision to expand the number of teams from 16 to 18 to the Russian Football Union (RFU). That's according to RPL President Sergei Pryadkin.

The current 16 clubs clash twice with each other for a total of 30 matches per season.

"We've received a task from the executive committee - to make a decision on expanding, which we did today," Pryadkin said. "We've created a working group within the RPL to consider all nuances and weigh the advantages and disadvantages within three weeks. The majority are in favor of expanding," he added.

The RPL has had 16 clubs competing for the championship title since 1998. In 1993, 1996 and 1997, the league had 18 clubs. The year 1992 saw 20 clubs clashing, split into two groups.

FC Lokomotiv chairman: Russian Premier League should bear in mind problems of potential expansion

Anatoly Mescheryakov, chairman of the board of directors of FC Lokomotiv Moscow, has told TASS it is important to bear in mind the cases of Tosno and Amkar football clubs when deciding on expanding the Russian Premier League from 16 to 18 clubs. FC Tosno and FC Amkar Perm were dissolved in 2018 due to financial problems.

According to TASS sources, 15 out of 16 Russian Premier League clubs voted in favor of expanding the number of teams in the champtionship from 16 to 18, with just one club voting against.

"Let's take a look if we have 18 clubs which are financially stable, so that the world wouldn't have to resuce, say, Anzhi mid-season," Mescheryakov told TASS on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. "The cases of Tosno and Amkar should never happen again," he added.

"Next: do we have the pitches? What about the weather? Do we have arenas for 15,000 seats with fields that won't cause players to tear their ligaments?" he said.