Struggling Saturn drop out of orbit

MOSCOW, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Struggling Saturn Ramenskoye have pulled out of the Russian championship because of financial difficulties, the club from the Moscow region said on Friday.

"We have written to the Russian FA and the Russian Premier League (RFPL) informing them of our decision not to compete in the coming 2011/12 season because of financial difficulties," Saturn said on their website.

This week, the Moscow region government decided to liquidate the troubled club which is more than 800 million roubles in debt.

Saturn, who finished the 2010 season in 10th place, are the second club to pull out of the Russian top flight in less than a month and the third since the start of the year.

This month, Amkar Perm voluntarily decided to play in Russia's second division next year after accumulating debts of 167 million roubles.

Fellow strugglers FK Moscow were disbanded in 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 kms northeast of Moscow.

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

Last year, 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.

Financial problems for Russian club are a big blow to its football image after the world's largest country was awarded the right to stage the 2018 World Cup earlier this month.