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Skonto FC was a Latvian football club, founded in 1991. The club played at the Skonto Stadium in Riga. Skonto won the Virsliga in the first 14 seasons of the league's resumption (15 in total), and often provided the core of the Latvia national football team. With those 14 national championships in a row, they set a European record, men and women's football combined,[1] until the women of Faroese club KÍ Klaksvík won their 14th championship in row in 2013.[2]

Skonto FC
Skonto-FC logo.png
Full nameSkonto Football Club
Founded15 December 1991; 27 years ago (1991-12-15)
as Forums-Skonto
DissolvedDecember 2016
following bankruptcy
GroundSkonto Stadium, Riga
Capacity10,000
LeagueLatvian First League
20168th
WebsiteClub website

Following financial problems, the club was demoted to the Latvian First League in 2016 and went bankrupt in December of that year.[3]

HistoryEdit

Fourteen titles in a row (1991–2004)Edit

Skonto FC was founded in 1991. Starting from its very beginnings the club won the Latvian championship 14 seasons in a row, and only in 2005 finished second after FK Liepājas Metalurgs. In 2006, Skonto finished third in a close contest with FK Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils. Skonto FC won the Latvian Cup on eight occasions, most recently in 2012.

Skonto FC was by no means among the favorites in the first years after its establishment, and the champion’s title had to be won in a fierce competition both with FK Olimpija from Liepāja and RAF Jelgava – even then an additional game was required since the regular championship in 1992 was insufficient to determine the winner of the season. In the same 1992 season, Skonto FC made its debut in the Champion’s League by beating the Faroe Islands champions Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag. After the season, a coach replacement was made and Aleksandrs Starkovs took over from Marks Zahodins.

For the next 10 years in the domestic league none of their rivals were able to offer significant opposition to Skonto. For two seasons running the team did not lose a single match, surpassing their closest rivals by more than 20 points in the final standings, ensuring the regular title was awarded long before the end of the season.

During the 1998 season, Skonto FC thrashed FK Valmiera 15–2. This saw the highest number of goals scored in a single game in the club's history. During these years Skonto FC players were the source of the Latvian national team – Māris Verpakovskis, Marians Pahars, Aleksandrs Koļinko, Vitālijs Astafjevs, Igors Stepanovs, Imants Bleidelis, Juris Laizāns, Mihails Zemļinskis, Valentīns Lobaņovs, Andrejs Rubins and others played for Skonto, also playing major roles in the national team, which miraculously managed to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2004 championship in Portugal.

Defender Mihails Zemļinskis has made 252 appearances, the largest number of matches played in the ranks of Skonto FC during the Latvian championships. His 52 games played in the European cups are also the highest number within the team. Mihails Miholaps is the all-time top scorer of Skonto FC. He has scored 155 goals in 216 Latvian championship games, and 18 goals in 38 European cup matches. In July 2000 Skonto defender Igors Stepanovs was sold to the English Premier League club Arsenal for a fee around 1 million £. In January 2001 midfielder Juris Laizāns joined the Russian Premier League side CSKA Moscow for £1,57 million, which is up to date the highest ever transfer fee received by a Latvian club.

The first major victory for Skonto FC players in the European cups was gained in 1994, when they defeated the Scottish club Aberdeen, the former European Super Cup winners. Also, in 1999 they managed a 0–0 draw at home with Chelsea in a UEFA Champions League qualifier (but lost the tie 3–0 on aggregate). Skonto FC also played against Spanish Barcelona and Italian Internazionale.

An exciting battle for the Latvian championship title was seen again in the 2001 season when Skonto FC had a two-point deficit before the final round to the leading team FK Ventspils, and they had to face a tough game in Liepāja against FK Liepājas Metalurgs – a team which also had hopes of becoming champions. FK Ventspils players couldn't withstand the strain, whereas Skonto FC showed the spirit of champions and won again.

End of the winners' era (2005–2009)Edit

Starting from 2005 Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils were in a close pursuit of Skonto, with their attempts proving to be successful. It has to be noted that in 2004, the head coach Aleksandrs Starkovs – one of the essential pillars of the club – left Skonto FC by accepting a proposal to work at Spartak Moskva, that time champions of Russia.[4] The leadership of the team was entrusted to Jurijs Andrejevs, his long-term assistant, but after the loss against FK Rabotnički, of the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje in the UEFA Champions League qualification tournament, he resigned from the post. Jurijs Andrejevs was replaced by Paul Ashworth, who had previously worked with FK Ventspils and FK Rīga in the Latvian Higher League and FC Rostov in the Russian Premier League.[5]

Champions again (2010)Edit

On 8 July 2010, Skonto lost in the Europa League first qualifying round to the Northern Irish club Portadown. In the first leg Skonto drew 1–1 away from home after an equaliser in injury time. They lost 1–0 at home and went out to a team who hadn't won a European tie in 36 years.[6] Consolation came later in the season, when Skonto drew 2–2 at home to win the Latvian Higher League title for the first time since 2004. It was yet again done under the management of Aleksandrs Starkovs.[7]

Financial crisis and bankruptcy (2011–2016)Edit

In 2012 founder of the club and long-term president Guntis Indriksons left the post, as it was incompatible with the president's post of the Latvian Football Federation according to the newly established rules.[8] Former player Vladimirs Koļesņičenko took over and, furthermore, the club's manager Marians Pahars accepted an offer to become the head coach of Latvia national U-21 football team.[9] In 2012 Skonto won the Latvian Cup for the first time since 2002 and guaranteed themselves a spot in the first qualifying round of 2013–14 UEFA Europa League, even though this was later succeeded once again following the league achievements in 2012.[10]

In 2013 Georgian manager Tamaz Pertia took over and under his management Skonto went on playing without a single loss for 26 matches out of the league's 27 regular games.[11] Run down by injuries with a short amount of reserves, they were defeated by FK Jelgava in the last round of the tournament losing the title to FK Ventspils.[12] Skonto participated considerably well in the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League matches, beating Moldovan FC Tiraspol on aggregate in the first round and being close to knock out the Czech club Slovan Liberec, which later went on to reach Round of 32 of the tournament.[13] In-mid summer Skonto were struck by severe financial problems as their sponsors ended the sponsorship program due to their own financial difficulties. This led to a major loss of income and long-term delays of salaries and other payments.

Before the start of the 2014 season Skonto, initially, were refused the A License necessary to play in the Latvian Higher League due to their long-term debts. However, the license was later obtained after a successful appeal.[14] Sanctions followed from UEFA, with Skonto being disqualified from the 2014-15 UEFA Europa League, which they had qualified for.[15] On 30 May 2014 Latvian Football Federation issued a ban for Skonto to register new players during the summer transfer window until all the debts would have been cleared.[16] On 6 July, due to long-term non-payment of salaries, Skonto players refused to play the away match against FK Liepāja and the club suffered a 3–0 technical loss.[17] On 14 July, club president Vladimirs Koļesņičenko announced his resignation and the club was taken over by Igors Zaicevs.[18] On 2 September due to non-fulfillment of liabilities in the prescribed terms, LFF took away three points in the championship table, but on 17 September this penalty was reduced to just one point.[19] On 14 October it was announced that Latvia's State Revenue Service had suspended the club's economic activity, with the possibility for an appeal to be submitted within one month.[20] A day later, an additional four points were taken away in the tournament table, with Skonto losing even the theoretical chance to win the 2014 championship.[21] The same day Skonto announced the resignation of its president Igors Zaicevs, but the club was still considering the option to submit an appeal to the State Revenue Service.[22] In November 2014 it was announced that Skonto had finally cleared its debts with that time and previous players, still being indebted to the State Revenue Service.[23]

Skonto did not obtain a license to play in the 2016 Higher League.[24] Skonto appealed the decision, but the appeal was denied.[25] Since 2015 Latvian First League runners-up Valmiera Glass FK/BSS rejected the opportunity to be promoted to the Higher League, 3rd placed Rīgas Futbola skola (RFS) was promoted instead.[24] The club went bankrupt and left the first league in December 2016.[26]

Since the club was denied a license to play in the Latvian First League, its remnants merged with RTU FC under the name of Skonto Academy before the start of the 2017 season. The team, now named RTU FC/Skonto Academy, played in the league until 2019, when it withdrew, possibly due to financial reasons.[27]

StadiumEdit

Skonto played their home matches at the Skonto Stadium, which is also the home ground for Latvia national football team. The stadium was opened in 2000 and has a capacity of 10,000 people. Besides regular football matches this stadium has also hosted concerts of worldwide superstars like Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Aerosmith and Metallica. The attendance of the last two was 32,000 and 33,000 people respectively. Skonto stadium is also the venue of Latvian Song and Dance Festival that takes place every five years. The record attendance in regards to a football match was reached on 15 November 2003, when Latvia beat Turkey 1–0 in the UEFA Euro 2004 qualification play-offs match and the game was attended by 9,500 spectators.[28] The stadium is now used as the home-ground by the Latvian Higher League club Riga FC.

CrestEdit

HonoursEdit

PartnersEdit

General sponsors

Vacant

Kit manufacturer

  Jako

Other sponsors

  City Real Estate
  Sportland
  Sigmen
  Alfastar
  Bonmark Tipogrāfija
  Ķeizarmežs
  Bērnu Futbola Attīstības centrs
  Canon serviss
  Skonto Metāls
  Venden
  BETA Tirdzniecības Grupa
  H-side Skonto fanu klubs
  SA Football agency

Players and staffEdit

ManagersEdit

Name Period Trophies
  Marks Zahodins 1991–92 2 league titles, 1 Latvian Football Cup
  Aleksandrs Starkovs July 1, 1993–04, Jan 1, 2010 – Dec 31, 2010 12 league titles, 6 Latvian Football Cups
  Jurijs Andrejevs 2004–05 1 league title
  Paul Ashworth 2005 – Dec 31, 2009
  Marians Pahars Jan 1, 2011 – Dec 31, 2012 1 Baltic League title, 1 Latvian Football Cup
  Tamaz Pertia Jan 1, 2013–Nov 14, 2016

League and Cup historyEdit

Latvian SSREdit

Season Division (Name) Pos./Teams Pl. W D L GS GA P Latvian Football Cup Top Scorer (League) Head Coach
1991 1st (Latvian SSR Higher League) 1/(20) 36 29 5 2 83 15 63 Runner-up   Marks Zahodins

LatviaEdit

Season Division (Name) Pos./Teams Pl. W D L GS GA P Latvian Football Cup Top Scorer (League) Head Coach
1992 1st (Virsliga) 1/(12) 24 18 2 2 51 10 38 Winner   Aleksejs Semjonovs – 12   Marks Zahodins
1993 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 18 17 0 1 63 7 34 1/2 finals   Aleksandrs Jeļisejevs – 19   Aleksandrs Starkovs
1994 1st (Virsliga) 1/(12) 22 20 2 0 76 9 42 1/4 finals   Vladimirs Babičevs – 14   Aleksandrs Starkovs
1995 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 28 25 3 0 99 15 78 Winner   Vitālijs Astafjevs – 15   Aleksandrs Starkovs
1996 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 28 23 4 1 98 12 73 Runner-up   Aleksandr Pindeyev – 17   Aleksandrs Starkovs
1997 1st (Virsliga) 1/(9) 24 20 4 0 89 8 64 Winner   David Chaladze – 25   Aleksandrs Starkovs
1998 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 21 4 3 98 27 67 Winner   Mihails Miholaps – 20   Aleksandrs Starkovs
1999 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 23 0 5 88 15 69 Runner-up   David Chaladze – 16   Aleksandrs Starkovs
2000 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 24 3 1 86 10 75 Winner   Vladimirs Koļesņičenko – 17   Aleksandrs Starkovs
2001 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 22 2 4 94 26 68 Winner   Mihails Miholaps – 24   Aleksandrs Starkovs
2002 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 23 4 1 95 19 73 Winner   Mihails Miholaps – 23   Aleksandrs Starkovs
2003 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 23 4 1 91 9 73 Runner-up   Māris Verpakovskis – 22   Aleksandrs Starkovs
2004 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 22 3 3 65 18 69 1/2 finals   Mihails Miholaps – 16   Aleksandrs Starkovs /   Jurijs Andrejevs
2005 1st (Virsliga) 2/(8) 28 22 5 1 85 19 71 1/2 finals   Gatis Kalniņš – 15   Jurijs Andrejevs /   Paul Ashworth
2006 1st (Virsliga) 3/(8) 28 16 6 6 55 21 54 Runner-up   Mihails Miholaps – 15   Paul Ashworth
2007 1st (Virsliga) 4/(8) 28 16 7 5 54 27 55 1/2 finals   Astafjevs /   Blanks /   Višņakovs – 7   Paul Ashworth
2008 1st (Virsliga) 3/(10) 28 15 7 5 43 31 71 1/2 finals   Vladimir Dvalishvili – 9   Paul Ashworth
2009 1st (Virsliga) 3/(9) 32 23 4 5 98 30 73 Not Held   Ivans Lukjanovs – 14   Paul Ashworth /   Aleksandrs Starkovs
2010 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 27 22 3 2 86 16 69 1/2 finals   Nathan Júnior – 18   Aleksandrs Starkovs
2011 1st (Virsliga) 4/(9) 32 17 9 6 62 21 60 1/4 finals   Nathan Júnior – 22   Marians Pahars
2012 1st (Virsliga) 2/(10) 36 21 11 4 58 22 74 Winner   Šabala /   Labukas – 11   Marians Pahars
2013 1st (Virsliga) 2/(10) 27 18 8 1 68 11 62 1/4 finals   Artūrs Karašausks – 16   Tamaz Pertia
2014 1st (Virsliga) 2/(10) 36 25 1 10 77 34 71 Runner-up   Vladislavs Gutkovskis – 28   Tamaz Pertia
2015 1st (Virsliga) 2/(7) 24 13 6 5 42 23 45 1/4 finals   Vladislavs Gutkovskis – 10   Tamaz Pertia
2016 2nd (1.liga) 6/(15) 28 16 2 10 71 40 42 Fourth round   Jegors Morozs  – 18   Tamaz Pertia

European recordEdit

Season Competition Round Country Opponent Home Away Aggregate
1992–93 UEFA Champions League PR   KÍ Klaksvík 3–0 3–1 6–1  
1   Lech Poznań 0–0 0–2 0–2  
1993–94 UEFA Champions League PR   Olimpija Ljubljana 0–1 1–0 1–1 (11–10 p)  
1   Spartak Moskva 0–5 0–4 0–9  
1994–95 UEFA Cup PrR   Aberdeen 0–0 1–1 1–1 (a)  
1   Napoli 0–1 0–2 0–3  
1995–96 UEFA Cup PrR   Maribor 0–2 1–0 1–2  
1996–97 UEFA Cup PrR   Newtown 3–0 4–1 7–1  
QR   Malmö FF 1–1 0–3 1–4  
1997–98 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Valletta 2–0 0–1 2–1  
2QR   Barcelona 0–1 2–3 2–4  
1997–98 UEFA Cup 1   Real Valladolid 1–0 0–2 1–2  
1998–99 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Dinamo Minsk 0–0 2–1 2–1  
2QR   Internazionale 1–3 0–4 1–7  
1998–99 UEFA Cup 1   Dynamo Moscow 2–3 2–2 4–5  
1999–00 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Jeunesse Esch 8–0 2–0 10–0  
2QR   Rapid București 2–1 3–3 5–4  
3QR   Chelsea 0–0 0–3 0–3  
1999–00 UEFA Cup 1   Widzew Łódź 1–0 0–2 1–2  
2000–01 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Shamkir FK 2–1 1–4 3–5  
2001–02 UEFA Champions League 1QR   F91 Dudelange 0–1 6–1 6–2  
2QR   Wisła Kraków 0–1 1–2 1–3  
2002–03 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Barry Town 5–0 1–0 6–0  
2QR   Levski Sofia 0–0 0–2 0–2  
2003–04 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Sliema Wanderers 3–1 0–2 3–3 (a)  
2004–05 UEFA Champions League 1QR   Rhyl 4–0 3–1 7–1  
2QR   Trabzonspor 0–3 1–1 1–4  
2005–06 UEFA Champions League 1QR   FK Rabotnički 1–0 0–6 1–6  
2006–07 UEFA Cup 1QR   Jeunesse Esch 3–0 2–0 5–0  
2QR   Molde 1–2 0–0 1–2  
2007–08 UEFA Cup 1QR   Dinamo Minsk 0–2 1–1 1–3  
2009–10 UEFA Europa League 2QR   Derry City 1–1 0–1 1–2  
2010–11 UEFA Europa League 1QR   Portadown 0–1 1–1 1–2  
2011–12 UEFA Champions League 2QR   Wisła Kraków 0–1 0–2 0–3  
2012–13 UEFA Europa League 2QR   Hajduk Split 1–0 0–2 1–2  
2013–14 UEFA Europa League 1QR   Tiraspol 0–1 1–0 1–1 (4–2 p.)  
2QR   Slovan Liberec 2–1 0–1 2–2 (a)  
2015–16 UEFA Europa League 1QR   St Patrick's Athletic 2–1 2–0 4–1  
2QR   Debrecen 2–2 2–9 4–11  

*Skonto FC were disqualified by UEFA due to long-term debts, not cleared in the restricted term

UEFA Team ranking 2014–15Edit

Rank Country Team Points
341   FK Zeta 3.125
342   Stjarnan 3.100
343   Skonto FC 3.100
344   FK Liepājas Metalurgs 3.100
345   Bangor City 3.075

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "KÍ maintain Faroe Islands monopoly". UEFA. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011. European record, set by Latvia's Skonto FC between 1991 and 2004
  2. ^ "KÍ er føroyameistari" (in Faroese). Knassar. 12 October 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2016. KÍ-kvinnurnar settu eina tjúkka striku undir sítt 14. føroyameistaraheiti á rað, tá tær í dag vunnu 9–0 á ÍF í Fuglafirði.
  3. ^ Menary, Steve (24 March 2017). "Mind the gap: the haves continue to flourish at the expense of the have-nots". World Soccer. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Starkovs trenēs Maskavas Spartak". diena.lv. 31 August 2004. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  5. ^ ""Skonto" trenēs Ešvorts". news.lv. 16 July 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Skonto zaudē Portadown un izstājas no UEFA Eiropas līgas turnīra". diena.lv. 8 July 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Skonto – 2010. gada LMT Virslīgas čempions futbolā". nra.lv. 31 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Indriksons pamet "Skonto" kluba prezidenta amatu". nra.lv. 26 February 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Pahars kļūst par U-21 izlases galveno treneri". sportacentrs.com. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Latvijas kausu iegūst ,,Skonto FC". futbolavirsliga.lv. 12 May 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Iepriekš uz mūžu diskvalificētais Pertija kļuvis par Skonto galveno treneri". diena.lv. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  12. ^ ""Ventspils" uzvar Rīgā un kļūst par Latvijas čempioni". sportacentrs.com. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Skonto spēlē teicami, gūst skaistus vārtus un pieveic Slovan". sportacentrs.com. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  14. ^ ""Skonto" un Daugavpils "Daugava" saņem licences startam virslīgā". tvnet.lv. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  15. ^ "UEFA diskvalificē "Skonto" no Eiropas līgas turnīra". apollo.tvnet.lv. 5 April 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  16. ^ ""Skonto" tiks piemērots aizliegums reģistrēt jaunus futbolistus". tvnet.lv. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  17. ^ ""Skonto" tiek ieskaitīts tehniskais zaudējums un piemērota soda nauda". tvnet.lv. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Koļesņičenko pametis "Skonto" prezidenta amatu". tvnet.lv. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  19. ^ "LFF Apelāciju komisija 'Skonto' un 'Jūrmalas' sodu samazina līdz vienam punktam". delfi.lv. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Apturēta "Skonto" saimnieciskā darbība". sportacentrs.com. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  21. ^ ""Skonto" un "Jūrmalai" atņemti vēl četri punkti, intriga Virslīgā izplēn". sportacentrs.com. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  22. ^ ""Skonto" apsver apelācijas iesniegšanu, Zaicevs vakar atkāpies no amata". sportacentrs.com. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Uldriķis: "Spēlētāju uzticība tika atalgota ar divu gadu parādu atdošanu"". sportacentrs.com. 26 November 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  24. ^ a b "LFF Klubu licencēšanas komisijas 29. janvāra lēmums". lff.lv (in Latvian). 29 January 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  25. ^ "Apelāciju komisija atstāj negrozītu Klubu licencēšanas komisijas lēmumu par LFF-A licences nepiešķiršanu "Skonto" FC". lff.lv (in Latvian). 11 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  26. ^ Menary, Steve (24 March 2017). "Mind the gap: the haves continue to flourish at the expense of the have-nots". World Soccer. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  27. ^ "RTU/"Skonto Academy" 1. līgā nespēlēs, "Bebri" apvienojas ar "Dinamo"". Sportacentrs.com (in Latvian). 9 January 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  28. ^ "Skonto stadions". skontofc.com. Retrieved 8 October 2014.

External linksEdit