Remember Metalist Kharkiv?
Newcastle United supporters are all feverously awaiting some new signings before the end of the window, as the Eddie Howe revolution continues.
Elsewhere in the world of course people are in real despair, their entire lives in turmoil and facing a battle simply to survive, with football the least of their concerns.
However, over in the Ukraine, football is set to return, albeit in the most difficult of circumstances.
President Zelensky has announced that the new season will kick start on the 23rd August, after last year’s season was abandoned due to Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
One of the teams starting in the Ukrainian Premier League for the first time since 2016 is one of Newcastle’s opponents from the 2013 Europa League campaign, Metalist Kharkiv.
Metalist were formed in 1925 and worked their way up the soviet football pyramid, reaching the soviet top flight in 1962 and then again in 1982, where they stayed till the league’s dissolution, picking up one soviet cup.
Their highest finish was second in the 2012-13 Ukrainian Premier league – the same year they faced Alan Pardew’s side. This was no walk over for Newcastle United, with Metalist reaching the quarter finals of the Europa League the year before. They returned to the tournament for the following two seasons.
The club which Alan Pardew’s side defeated thanks to a Shola Ameobi penalty away from home (after a goalless draw at St James’ Park) to reach the round of 16, actually folded in 2016 due to insolvency. The club owed 32million euros to its squad, including 5million euros to Celiton Xavier, who played vs Newcastle in 2013.
The club was liquidated after its owner Serhiy Kurchenko had his assets frozen due to alleged corruption and tax fraud. It was also suggested that Kurchenko was orchestrating a Russian Government backed campaign to seize power in Ukraine. Following this, the history of the club gets even more colourful.
Kurchenko then created a club named SK Metalist Kharkiv playing in the Kharkiv Oblast Championship.
While Kharkiv businessman, and council deputy Oleksandr Pryzetko, formed FC Metalist 1925 Kharkiv.
Pryzetko was a former player for Metalist, and went on to be youth team manager, caretaker manager and Manager. This team played games at the old club’s ground. In 2017 Kurchenko’s club was confiscated by the state.
In 2019 a new team was formed named Metal. The president of Metal is former Dynamo Kyiv vice-president Yevhen Krasnikov, who was joined by Pryzetko. They debuted in the Ukrainian second league in 20-21 and won promotion to the premier league last year, following the league being abandoned with the team top of the league, and Mariupol and Desna Chernihiv being unable to play due to the war.
Following promotion, the club has had its original name and logo returned, as well as a return of the owner of the original Metalist side from 2005-12, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky. Yaroslavsky made a controversial return, as after developing the ground for the 2012 Euros, he sold the original club to Kurchenko. Yaroslavsky was also in conflict with the pro-Russian Mayor of Kharkiv, Hennadiy Kernes, something which led to Yaroslavsky being sanctioned by Putin in 2018.
As football returns to Ukraine, Metalist Kharkiv return to top flight football.
Unfortunately, due to the war fans are not permitted in the grounds and all matches will be played in the west of the country, away from Kharkiv, and with air raid sirens and bomb shelters in place for the players.
Newcastle fans know all too well this war has plagued Ukraine for a long time, including the seizure of Crimea back in the day, NUFC in July 2014 tragically lost two of our own Newcastle United fans, John Alder and Liam Sweeney, when Russian separatists shot down flight MH17.
I’m sure we all wish our friends in Kharkiv and the rest of the Ukraine peace soon. Howay Ukraine. Slava Ukraini.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to email@example.com