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As Russia prepares to host the 2018 World Cup, the national player union wants club executives to be banned from football for poor management. More than 10 clubs went into bankruptcy procedures in the last few years but, as players went unpaid, some of the directors were allowed to continue in new roles.

Former directors of FC Saturn Moscow and Rotor Volgograd, both of whom ran out of money, were elected to the executive committee of the Russian Football Federation (RFS).

The latest club being run into the ground is FC Shinnik, whose players have not been paid since December and have not received bonuses for two years.

Vladimir Leonchenko, executive director of the player union, PSFT, said it’s time to stop club executives getting away unpunished as footballers suffer.

“Why are there no consequences for club owners?” Leonchenko, a former player, asked. “This has to stop if we want to have solid and successful football league.”

FC Shinnik’s players, backed by the union, last week wrote to Vitaly Mutko (photo) asking for a ban on failing executives. Mutko is Russian F.A. president, Minister of Sport and a member of the FIFA executive committee. In their letter to him, the players also recommended:

  • Clubs should deposit 4 months of player wages in a reserve bank fund.
  • There should be a club licensing system for club executives.
  • Clubs that have outstanding debts should not allowed to start the new season.

While Russian players can declare how much money they are owed at the start of each season, often clubs persuade them to hide the real amount.

“Unfortunately many players declare there are ‘zero debts’ because they are hoping to renew their contracts,” Leonchenko said. “Other players only mention a lower amount than the actual debt, in exchange for guarantee letters, partial payments or other promises from management.”

FC Shinnik and its financers (the regional government of Yaroslavl) have promised on numerous occasions that the players would be paid, but have not lived up to their promises.

As Russia spends hundreds of millions of dollars on the 2018 World Cup, the Russian leagues is having serious problem generating income.

PSFT Secretary General Nikolai Grammatikov notices a clear link between league revenue and contractual stability.

"We see in many countries that when leagues have poor revenue, club owners might act in a very brutal way, violating players’ contracts.

“They consider themselves as masters of the player’s destiny since the player’s income is guaranteed only by shareholders finances.

“It is very unhealthy. The unions are interested in having reliable partners acting on commercial grounds and respecting labour conditions.”

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