08.10.2021

Ashot Khachaturyants: "The President of the RPL must take into account the interests of all clubs - this is the most important and difficult thing"

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The acting president of the RPL was a guest on the "All For The Match" program on Match TV channel.

Appointment as Acting President of the League

I did not propose my candidacy. I received an offer to head the RPL from the shareholders of a large number of clubs. The first time it happened was a year ago, but I justified my refusal by saying that it was necessary to complete the reform in refereeing. Nevertheless, the issue of changes in the RPL has been overdue for a long time.

I have put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the League, and the meeting will be held on 22 November. If there are no legal obstacles to combine both positions, I would like to remain the head of the RFU refereeing committee. If this is not possible according to the regulations, by agreement with the RFU, the supervision of the committee will remain with me.

Reasons why he agreed to head the RPL

I really love football. I think all people who are seriously engaged in it - journalists, club shareholders, coaches - are united by passion for this game. This is a unique game, the most enormous. In addition to passion and love, the most important thing is the confidence that I can make football better and more attractive, make football an entertainment that would attract more people, and a business. 

There is a desire for big money to come to the league, and clubs to earn more. Business likes a clear environment, clear rules, and for this it is necessary to carry out reforms.

Benchmarks among foreign leagues

The English Premier League is what we would like to come to, not only in terms of financial success, but also entertainment and intensity of football. Traditions, of course, cannot be brought up right away, but after studying the experience, I see for sure that this is the model we need to strive for.

We have enough clubs with a long history, and it seems to me that family traditions are very important, such as which team one's father and grandfather supported. Football in the USSR and Russia has always been very popular. There are clubs with traditions, they have a huge number of fans. 

There are also young clubs where you can see how fans are formed - this is also a very interesting process. It will never be possible to completely copy any model; we have our own geographical features and traditions of football development in the regions. But I believe that the RPL will become the pinnacle of all professional football.

Infrastructure and financing of clubs

We were initially very lucky with the infrastructure. The last World Cup in Russia prompted the construction of the most modern stadiums, and we have a base on which we create modern football. To go down and develop football in small towns, you need to understand whether there is a request there, and what climatic conditions and traditions exist. For example, the southern regions have always had good youth development and have many pitches.

Business will come when the rules of the game are clear, and it should be commercially profitable. As soon as the business comes, you immediately reduce the burden on the budget. Some of the clubs are funded from regional budgets, and the arrival of business immediately increases interest in this. When it becomes prestigious to finance football, at that moment business will come.

It will be impossible to completely abandon state funding in the near future, but increased competition within football teams may lead to additional funding. For example, Sergey Nikolaevich Galitsky is a unique phenomenon on the football map of Russia. 

Of course, I would like to have more such people, but the scale of even medium-sized businesses for small towns will be sufficient when the rules for investing and returning their investments become clear. It is necessary to clearly separate business and charity. Once it becomes a business, you will see how much business will come into football.

The new contract with Match TV

The contract, which was increased, was accepted by the clubs with great enthusiasm. Everyone has already calculated how much money they will have to increase their budgets. The more money, the better for the clubs - this is an elementary formula. Everyone understands that they have increased motivation to make football more beautiful and intense, and to attract more people.

A new level of management has come to the clubs that receive state funding today - a more aggressive and understanding business. It will still be aimed at increasing revenue, because it will be directly related to the results of the teams. Coaches, footballers, football style - this is what we want to improve. The end game is the national team. I think the first thing we will see as a result of the increased flow of money in the RPL is competition level in the FNL.

Licensing criteria

The requirements for promotion to the RPL should be modified and considered in relation to the conditions of the city and infrastructure. You can't demand a 30,000-seater stadium from a city with a population of 100,000. There should be a reasonable business approach here. The current unification of the rules keeps the bar very high. It is necessary to adapt it to local conditions so that the infrastructure part does not deter clubs from reaching the RPL.

Of course, certain rules must be observed, and they are aimed at making the viewer comfortable. Everything should be done for the sake of spectators. They should receive convenience - and not only within the stadium. For example, if someone buys a ticket in advance and books a hotel to support the team in another city, and the match is canceled three or four days before the event - this is wrong. It is necessary to make all the changes that would increase the convenience for viewers.

Refereeing

Attention to refereeing is natural. There is a wonderful phrase in England that a good referee allows the game to flow - that is, he is a person who allows the game to open up, while controlling it.

For example, Sergey Karasev's work at the UEFA Nations League semi-final: if you listen to the experts, you will understand that Sergey performed at a very high level. The second yellow card, which turned into a red one for Bonucci, was quite obvious. It is unpleasant for anyone to lose, and I think criticism of refereeing is more related to emotions. it is easiest to write off your loss to the referee. Nevertheless, we have more and more matches that take place at high intensity without refereeing mistakes.

I'm not ready to ascribe all the laurels to myself, but it seems to me that the rules of behavior have become clearer. We adopted the code, but unfortunately it passed unnoticed; I would have covered it in the media extensively. It actually contains everything that should be observed in the refereeing world. No one is immune from human mistakes, but it is important to remove the subjective factor.

Today, corruption in refereeing in the RPL is impossible. There are mistakes that are human in nature, there are mistakes that are not excusable for an RPL referee and for which he will be punished, but these mistakes are not related to corruption. They may be associated with low professionalism or with other factors such as fear or uncertainty.

Fans

This is the basis of entertainment and adrenaline that everyone gets from football. I was at the Chelsea vs Zenit match in London: you could feel from the Chelsea fans that they were baying for blood, and how they pressed and drove their team there is worthy of respect. Nevertheless, Zenit played well, and that was one of their best games. Football today is impossible without fans, without people who shout and drive the team forward. These are the fans with whom it is necessary to communicate first of all.

The pre-election work

First of all, it is necessary to do an audit of current activities. It is necessary to understand the problems. We will look at the entire contractual framework, the very structure of the RPL. I think there will be changes. We need to understand where we are, and then draw up an action plan that we would like to approve at a meeting of clubs. I would like to present the reform roadmap to the clubs in advance, two weeks before the meeting, so that the clubs consciously vote for me.

All clubs are different, with their own interests. But it is important for the president of the RPL to take into account the interests of everyone, regardless of budgets or league position. This will be the most important and difficult matter for the leader.


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