четвртак, 17. август 2017.

FC Skonto Riga

           (source: Skonto official/ izvor: Skonto official)

FC Skonto Riga 

Latvian football is not particularly famous around the world. But we cannot say the same thing about Skonto football club from Riga inscribed in the football encyclopedia as a world record holder by the number of titles won repeatedly. The team from the capital of this Baltic country, was a champion of his country, continuously from 1991 to 2004, 14 times in total.
Officially, Skonto football club was founded in 1991. However, the history of the club began in 1988 when coach Marks Zahodins was assigned to gather a student football team in Riga that will represent the USSR within the Universiade. After the Universiade was over, it was decided that the team would continue to work with the goal of creating players capable of playing in the Latvian football league within the USSR.
When the players grew older, they were not ready enough for such a competition. This structure held together thanks to the invitation by the State University of Physical Education in Latvia, in 1990 to participate in the reherseral Baltic championship after some states of the USSR had already become independent. There were 16 clubs that participated in the championship (8 from Lithuania, 6 from Latvia, one from Estonia and Russia). A Riga team participated as a university team under the name Daugava LVFKI. This name was given by the river Daugava (Dvina) that flows into the Baltic Sea near the capital of Riga.
In 1991, the team changed the name once again, this time after  the sponsor Forums Riga, because in other way the team could not function having in mind that it got out of the university framework. Under this name, the team finally started the competition in the Latvian football league within the USSR. In this competition, that ended after Latvia took the opportunity to secede from the USSR and regain its independence on August 21, 1991. Riga Forum team won the first place and became the first champion of Latvia since the country's re-independence. This championship was held under a strange system of competitions in which competed more than 20 clubs.
Forums immediately joined to the newly formed league of the independent state of Latvia, and in December 1991 the club was officially formed under the name Skonto. The name was acquired by the newly founded company Skonto group, which mainly deals with construction work. The club's president became Guatis Indriksons, a member of the Skonto group and a former KGB official. This businessman and sports worker five years later became the president of the Latvian Football Association. During his mandate as chairman of the club, Indriksons became the owner of 90 percent of the club's shares.
In the newly formed championship, footballers Marx Zahodins won the first place after playing against the FC RAF team, as both teams at the end of the regular part of the championship had the same number of points. Zahodins' place on the position of coach was taken in 1992 by Alexander Starkovs who won with Skonto the 12th Championship title and 6 times the National Cup, after which the trophy coach took over the Moscow Spartak.
In the period of domination, Skonto ''gave birth'' to many football players, and footballers who had emerged in this soccer team formed the backbone of the Latvian national team that participated in the 2004 European Championship in Portugal. In 2004, a series of Skonta's championship titles were interrupted by the football club Metalurgs from Liepaja.
His, what will appear later to be, the last title of the championship Skonto won in 2010. After that, the chairman Guatis Indriksons sold the club to Chechnya businessman Bislan Abdulmuslimov, but he remained the president of the club until 2012. One year after the club was sold, Indriksons became director of Skonto group, and the Skonto football club was resold, this time to an offshore company Tremova, registered in Cyprus. However, the new owner did not meet expectations regarding the investment, and the club recorded losses. In 2011, due to unpaid loan installments, Skonta stadium management was taken over the company for the restructuring AS Revert.
The fall of Skonto from Riga begins in 2012 when the law on the prevention of conflict of interest in performing the public functions came to force, which was adopted by the Latvian Parliament on a major insistence on the EU. Thus, Indriksons was forced to resign to the club chair as he was also serving as president of the Latvian Football Association, and by law it was no longer allowed. That way, Skonto football club was left without its main operative.
That same year, Skonto won his last trophy of the National cup, defeating its big debtors in the final, Metalurgs from Lieoajas. In 2013, almost all sponsors left the club and Skonto was hit by a major financial crisis. Players were not paid salaries and premiums. Some of them did not have the patience, so they asked for their earned money on court.
The following year, the club was disqualified from European competitions even though they were placed in qualifications for the UEFA Europa League, by taking second place in the championship. Unlike UEFA, the Latvian Football Association, led by Indrikson, allowed Skonto players, one day before the start of the championship, to compete in the first league. This season was very painful for Skonto. Due to unpaid obligations, first 3 points were denied to them, so that later the penalty was reduced to 2 points. Then 4 more points were taken away for their failure to fulfill their obligations. By the end of the championship the club somehow managed to regulate its financial obligations and the team managed to take the 2nd place in the championship. The alliance seems to have tried everything to revive the club...
In 2015, the club management somehow provided a license to participate in the Europa League and the team again took the 2nd place in the championship. But because of the continuation of financial problems, Skonto, by decision of the football association, was thrown into the second league. The next season, the Reds from Riga, for the first time since their establishment, played a bush-league football. Most of the players left the club in the meantime. And the club barely managed to win the 8th place in the second league.
Due to large debts, a bankruptcy procedure was proposed to the Riga team. The alliance did not give a permition to Skonto for competition in the second league and the club ceased to exist. Skonto football club has somehow continued working in cooperation with the PTU football center, but through the youth academy.
In the first championship of Latvia from the renewed independence in 1992, 12 clubs participated. None of these clubs are functioning anymore. At Skonta's stadium now performs football club Riga, founded in 2014.
My personal opinion is that the Skonto football club has returned to its original form, the form it has created, which is working with young players and a competition through a football academy.
Skonto from Riga was champion of Latvia 15 times in total, and 8 times won the national cup. Its best result in the European competition Skonto achieved in the 1999/00 in qualifications for the Champions League, where in the third round of qualifications they were defeated by London 0: 0 and 0: 3 before eliminating Romania's champion Rapid from Bucharest. Their participation in European competitions mostly ended in the first or second round of qualifications.
The most famous football players who played in the club are: Former Arsenal player Igor Stepanovs, Latvia's record-keeper by the number of games Vitalij Astafjevs, Latvia's top scorer of the club Mihails Miholaps, Maris Verpakovskis's record-breaking goalkeeper, Marians Pahars, former Southampton footballer, record-keeper for the club and deputy of the Latvian Parliament Mihails Zemlinskis...

Forums Riga 1991.
(source: Skonto official/ izvor: Skonto official)

Skonto 1992.
(source: Skonto official/ izvor: Skonto official)
Skonto 2010.
(source: Skonto official/ izvor: Skonto official)

 FK Skonto Riga 

Nije letonski fudbal nešto naročito poznat širom sveta. Ali je zato fudbalski klub Skonto iz Rige upisan u fudbalsku enciklopediju kao svetski rekorder po broju uzastopno osvojenih titula. Čak 14 puta je tim, iz glavnog grada ove Baltičke zemlje, bio šampion svoje zemlje, neprekidno od 1991. do 2004. godine

Zvanično, fudbalski klub Skonto je osnovan 1991. godine. Međutim istorija kluba počinje 1988. godine kada je trener Marks Zahodins određen da okupi studentski fudbalski tim u Rigi koji će predstavljati SSSR u okviru Univerzijade. Nakon što je Univerzijada završena, odlučeno je da tim nastavi sa radom sa ciljem da stvori igrače kadre da igraju u Letonskoj fudbalskoj ligi u okviru SSSR-a.
Kada su igrači prerasli juniorski uzrast nisu bili dovoljno spremni za ovakvo takmičenje. Ovaj sastav se dalje održao tako što je pozvan 1990. od strane letonskog Državnog univerziteta za fizičku kulturu da učestvuje na probnom Baltičkom prvenstvu nakon što su neke države SSSR-a već postale nezavisne. Na prvenstvu je učestvovalo 16 klubova (8 iz Litvanije, 6 iz Letonije, i po jedan iz Estonije i Rusije). Tim iz Rige je učestvovao kao univerzitetski tim pod imenom Daugava LVFKI. Taj naziv su dobili po reci Daugavi (Dvina) koja se uliva u Baltičko more u blizini glavnog grada  Rige. 

Godine 1991.  tim je ponovo promenio ime, ovog puta po sponzoru Forums Riga, jer na drugi način ovaj tim nije mogao da funkcionise iz razloga što je izašao iz okvira univerziteta. Pod tim imenom ovaj sastav je konačno počeo takmičenje u Letonskoj fudbalskoj ligi u okviru SSSR-a. Na tom takmičenju koje se završilo nakon što je Letonija iskoristila priliku da se otcepi od SSSR-a i povrati svoju nezavisnost 21.8.1991. ekipa Forumsa iz Rige osvojila je prvo mesto i tako postala prvi šampion Letonije od ponovnog osamostaljenja države. Ovaj šampionat je održan po čudnom sistemu takmičenja u kojem je učestvovalo čak 20 klubova.
Forums se odmah priključio novoformiranoj ligi nezavisne države Letonije, a decembra 1991. klub je zvanično formiran pod imenom Skonto. Naziv su dobili po tek osnovanoj kompaniji Skonto group, koja se pretežno bavi građevinskim radovima. Na mesto predsednika kluba postavljen je Guatis Indriksons, zaposlen u kompaniji Skonto group i bivši činovnik KGB-a. Ovaj biznismen i sportski radnik je pet godina kasnije izabran i na mesto predsednika Fudbalskog savez Letonije. Tokom svog mandata na čelu kluba, Indriksons je postao vlasnik 90 procenata akcija kluba.
U novoformiranom šampionatu fudbaleri Marksa Zahodinsa osvojili su prvo mesto nakon doigravanja protiv ekipe FK RAF jer su oba tima na kraju regularnog dela prvenstva imali isti broj bodova. Zahodinska 1992. godine na mestu trenera menja Aleksandrs Starkovs koji je sa Skontom osvojio 12 puta šampionsku titulu i 6 puta nacionalni Kup, nakon čega je trofejni trener preuzeo moskovski Spartak.
U periodu dominacije, Skonto je iznedrio mnogo fudbalskih reprezentativaca, a fudbaleri ponikli u ovom fudbalskom timu činili su okosnicu reprezentacije Letonije koja je učestvovala na Evropskom prvenstvu 2004. u Portugalu. Upravo 2004. Godine seriju šampionskih titula Skonta prekinuo je fudbalski klub Metalurgs iz Liepajasa.
Svoju, ispostaviće se kasnije, poslednju titulu šampiona Skonto je osvojio 2010. godine. Nakon toga, predsednik kluba Guatis Indriksons je prodao klub čečenskom biznismenu Bislanu Abdulmuslimovu, ali je ostao na mestu predsednika kluba sve do 2012. godine. Godinu dana nakon što je klub prodat, Indriksons je postao direktor kompanije Skonto group, a fudbalski klub Skonto je ponovo prodat, ovog puta ofšor kompaniji Tremova, registrovanoj na Kipru. Međutim, novi vlasnik nije ispunio očekivanja vezana za ulaganja, a klub je belezio gubitke.
Godine 2011. zbog neisplaćenih rata kredita, upravljanje stadiona Skonta preuzela je kompanija za restruktuiranje AS Reverta.
Pad Skonta iz Rige počinje 2012. godine kada je stupio na snagu Zakon o sprečavanju sukoba interesa u obavljaju javnih funkcija koji je usvojio letonski parlament na veliko insistiranje EU. Tako je Indriksons bio prinuđen da podnese ostavku na rukovodeće mesto u kluba jer je ujedno obavljao i funkciju predsednika fudbalskog saveza Letonije, a po zakonu to više nije bilo dozvoljeno. Na taj način je fudbalski klub Skonto ostao bez svog glavnog operativca.
Iste godine Skonto je osvojio svoj poslednji trofej nacionalnog Kupa pobedivši u finalu svoje velike dužnike, ekipu Metalurgs iz Liepajasa. Godine 2013. klub su napustili skoro svi sponzori i Skonto je zahvatila velika finansijska kriza. Igračima nisu isplaćene plate i premije. Neki od njih nisu imali strpljenja pa su preko suda tražili svoj zarađeni novac.
Već naredne godine klub je diskvalifikovan iz evropskih takmičenja iako su se plasirali u kvalifikacije za UEFA ligu Evrope osvojivši 2. mesto u šampionatu.  Za razliku od UEFE, Fudbalski savez Letonije, na čelu sa Indriksonsom  je dozvolio fudbalerima Skonta, dan pre početka prvenstva, da se takmiče u prvoj ligi. Ova sezona za Skonto je bila veoma mučna. Zbog neizmirenih obaveza prvo su im oduzeta 3 boda, da bi kasnije kazna bila smanjena na 2 boda. Zatim su im oduzeta još 4 boda zbog ponovnog neizmirenja obaveza. Do kraja šampionata nekako su uspeli da regulišu svoje finansijske obaveze i tim je uspeo da zauzme 2. mesto u šampionatu. Savez je izgleda sve pokušao da oživi klub...
Godine 2015. rukovodstvo kluba je nekako obezbedilo licencu za učešće u Ligi Evrope i tim je ponovo zauzeo 2. mesto u šampionatu. Ali zbog nastavka finansijskih problema Skonto je, odlukom fudbalskog saveza, izbačen u drugu ligu. Naredne sezone crveni iz Rige su prvi put od svog osnivanja igrali drugoligaški fudbal. Većina fudbalera je u međuvremenu napustila klub. A klub je jedva uspeo da se izbori za 8. mesto u Drugoj ligi.
Zbog velikih dugovanja, timu iz Rige je predložen stečajni postupak. Savez nije dao dozvolu Skontu za takmičenje u Drugoj ligi i klub je na taj način prestao da postoji.
Fudbalski klub Skonto je na neki način nastavio sa radom u saradnji sa PTU fudbalskim centrom, ali kroz omladinsku akademiju.
U prvom šampionatu Letonije od ponovnog osamostaljenja 1992. godine učestvovalo je 12 klubova. Danas nijedan od tih klubova više ne funcioniše.Na stadionu Skonta sada nastupa fudbalski klub Riga osnovan 2014. godine.

Moje lično mišljenje je da se fudbalski klub Skonto vratio svom prvobitnom obliku, onom obliku zbog kojeg je i nastao, a to je rad sa mladim igračima i takmičenje kroz fudbalsku akademiju.

Ukupno 15 puta je Skonto iz Rige bio šampion Letonije, a 8 puta je osvojio nacionalni Kup. Svoj najbolji rezultat u evropskim takmičenjima Skonto je ostvario u sezoni 1999/00 u kvalifikacijama  za Ligu šampiona gde su u trećem kolu kvalifikacija poraženi od londonskog Čelzija 0:0 i 0:3 prethodno eliminisavši šampiona Rumunije Rapid iz Bukurešta. Svoje učešće u evropskim takmičenjima su uglavnom završavali u prvom ili drugom kolu kvalifikacija.

Napoznatiji fudbaleri koji su igrali u klubu su: Bivši fudbaler Arsenala Igors Stepanovs, rekorder po broju utakmica za reprezentaciju Letonije Vitalijs Astafjevs, najbolji strelac kluba Mihails Miholaps, rekorder po broju golova za reprezentaciju Maris Verpakovskis, Marians Pahars bivši fudbaler Sautemptona, rekorder po broju utakmica za klub i poslanik Letonskog parlamenta Mihails Zemlinskis...

Nikola Radulović
translation/ prevod: Tea Besu

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