Struggling Sochi drop out of Russian league

MOSCOW - Zhemchuzhina Sochi have become the latest Russian professional football club to drop out of the championship because of financial difficulties, the second division side said on Saturday.

"Today, the club president Dmitry Yakushev told the players that Zhemchuzhina will no longer be able to play in the national league," Sochi said on their website.

Sochi had one of the biggest budgets among the second division clubs as they were hoping to win promotion to Russia's top flight this season after playing there in the 1990s.

The club's pullout is a huge blow to the sporting image of the Black Sea resort, which will host the Winter Olympics in 2014 as well as matches in the 2018 World Cup.

Several other top Russian clubs have also been liquidated in the last 18 months.

Saturn Ramenskoye filed for bankruptcy at the end of last year with debts of more than $26 million while, fellow Premier League strugglers FK Moscow were disbanded in February 2010, after their main sponsor Norilsk Nickel withdrew its financing.

Siberian club Tom Tomsk were saved from going out of business because of mounting debt in 2009 following the intervention of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who ordered seven of Russia's largest oil and energy companies to rescue them.