Cash-strapped Amkar to remain in top flight

MOSCOW, Jan 25 (Reuters) - In-debt Amkar Perm received a lifeline from the Russian Premier League (RFPL) on Tuesday after they were allowed to remain in the top flight for the coming season.

Amkar, who just avoided relegation last year, voluntarily decided to drop out of the RFPL last month after accumulating debts of 167 million roubles ($5.60 million) but later changed their mind after getting additional help from the regional government.

"Last year the region paid only half of our budget and sponsors chipped in with the rest, but now the region has agreed to provide us with most of the money," Amkar spokesman Viktor Zasulsky was quoted as saying by local media.

"They also gave us the task of finishing in the top eight."

The RFPL confirmed that fellow strugglers Saturn Ramenskoye, who finished the 2010 season in 10th place, will not participate in the league after the Moscow region government decided in December to liquidate the troubled club which is more than 800 million roubles in debt.

The RFPL said FK Krasnodar, who finished fifth in Division One (second tier) last year, will replace Saturn after the two teams who finished above them last year declined the offer citing lack of finances.

The southern city of Krasnodar will now have two teams in the top flight after Kuban, coached by former Chelsea full-back Dan Petrescu, won promotion as Division One champions.


The new Russian season switches from its traditional March-November format to a calendar more in line with the rest of Europe, starting in March and finishing at the end of May 2012.

Saturn follow the path of FK Moscow, who were disbanded last February after their main sponsor Norilsk Nickel withdrew its financing.

Norilsk, the world's biggest nickel and palladium producer, said at the time it would no longer finance the team because it was too far from the company's base in the Siberian city of Norilsk, 3,000 km northeast of Moscow.

Several other RFPL clubs have also struggled to maintain their position in the top flight.

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