Rangers league move plans could get Russian help

Zenit St Petersburg's chairman proposed the Russian-Ukrainian league. Picture: Complimentary

Zenit St Petersburg's chairman proposed the Russian-Ukrainian league. Picture: Complimentary

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CHARLES Green’s bid to move Rangers into English football could receive an unlikely boost - from Russia and Ukraine.

Gazprom, the gas company which owns Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, are looking to set up a cross-border league between the two countries as early as next year.

The conglomerate is a major sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller believes the governing body will give his planned ‘United Championship’ the green light.

If the combined Russian-Ukrainian league goes ahead it would replace the national leagues of the two countries, and potentially pave the way for more cross-border moves. Charles Green has been vocal in his desire to move the club to the English league set-up, even writing to David Cameron for his assistance.

Green visited Belgian side Standard Liege to discuss the cross-border issues last week. Liege’s chairman Roland Duchatelet said that without a Dutch-Belgian league, the game in the Benelux countries would “die”.

The Russian plan is to unite 9 sides from Russia and 9 from Ukraine in a combined league with a €1 billion prize fund, as a work-round to new ‘financial fair play’ rules. From next season, teams will be banned from European football if they post large losses on a consistent basis.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said: “We can already say with confidence that there will be an interesting discussion. Firstly, this is because of the requirements imposed by UEFA, (financial) fair play. I am sure that if the United Championship is created, this requirement will be fully conformed to.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has stated his opposition to the plans saying they “go against the principles of FIFA”, but UEFA sources have been quoted as saying that the idea was “interesting”.

Recent plans for Czech-Slovak and pan-Balkan leagues have all grown stagnant as they await UEFA approval.

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