Skonto FC

Skonto FC was a Latvian professional football club, active from 1991 until 2016. 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 a row in 2013.[2]

Skonto FC
Full nameSkonto Football Club
Founded15 December 1991; 31 years ago (1991-12-15)
as Forums-Skonto
Dissolved1 December 2016; 6 years ago (2016-12-01)
GroundSkonto Stadium, Riga
ChairmanGuntis Indriksons
LeagueLatvian First League
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]

History edit

Fourteen titles in a row (1991–2004) edit

Skonto FC was founded in 1991, and immediately started to win league championships, 14 in a row, until finishing second to FK Liepājas Metalurgs in 2005. In 2006, Skonto finished third in a close contest with FK Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils. Skonto also won the Latvian Cup on eight occasions, most recently in 2012.

Skonto had to win their early titles in fierce competition with FK Olimpija from Liepāja and RAF Jelgava. An additional game was required in 1992 season to break a tie and decide the winner. In the same 1992 season, Skonto FC made its debut in the Champion's League by beating the Faroe Islands champions Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag. At season's end, Aleksandrs Starkovs took over from Marks Zahodins as coach.

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, scoring the highest number of goals in a single game in the club's history.

During these years Skonto FC supplied the Latvian national team with most of its players: Māris Verpakovskis, Marians Pahars, Aleksandrs Koliņko, Vitālijs Astafjevs, Igors Stepanovs, Imants Bleidelis, Juris Laizāns, Mihails Zemļinskis, Valentīns Lobaņovs, Andrejs Rubins, and others. In 2004, a Latvian squad stocked with Skonto players managed to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2004 championship in Portugal.

Defender Mihails Zemļinskis has made the most appearances for the club in domestic competition (252), and the most in European cup ties as well (52). Mihails Miholaps is Skonto's all-time top scorer with 155 goals in 216 domestic matches, and 18 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, the highest ever transfer fee received by a Latvian club to date.

Skonto's first major victory in the European came in 1994, when they defeated Scotland's Aberdeen F.C., former European Super Cup winners; and in 1999 Skonto managed a 0–0 draw at home with Chelsea in a UEFA Champions League qualifier after losing 3–0 away two weeks earlier in what was Chelsea's first game in the Champions League. Skonto FC also played as Latvian champion against European giants Barcelona and Internazionale.

An exciting battle for the Latvian championship title occurred again in the final round of the 2001 season when Skonto trailed FK Ventspils by two points as they faced an away match against Liepājas Metalurgs, a team which also had hopes of becoming champions. Ventspils lost their match; Skonto won theirs; and Skonto were Latvian champions once more.

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 the Latvian Football Federation issued a ban on Skonto registering new players during the summer transfer window until all the debts had 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.[3]

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.[26]

Stadium edit

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. 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.[27] The stadium is now used as the home-ground by the Latvian Higher League club Riga FC.

Crest edit

Honours edit

Partners edit

General sponsors


Kit manufacturer


Other sponsors

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

Players and staff edit

Player of the season (since 2010) edit

2010 Kaspars Dubra
2011 Igors Tarasovs
2012Not specified
2013 Paulius Grybauskas
2014 Vladislavs Gutkovskis
2015 Artūrs Karašausks

Managers edit

Marks Zahodins1991–922 league titles, 1 Latvian Football Cup
Aleksandrs Starkovs1 July 1993 – 2004, 1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 201012 league titles, 6 Latvian Football Cups
Jurijs Andrejevs2004–051 league title
Paul Ashworth2005 – 31 Dec 2009
Marians Pahars1 Jan 2011 – 31 Dec 20121 Baltic League title, 1 Latvian Football Cup
Tamaz Pertia1 Jan 2013 – 14 Nov 2016

League and Cup history edit

Latvian SSR edit

SeasonDivision (Name)Pos./TeamsPl.WDLGSGAPLatvian Football CupTop Scorer (League)Head Coach
19911st (Latvian SSR Higher League)1/(20)362952831563Runner-up Jevgeņijs Gorjačilovs – 25 Marks Zahodins

Latvia edit

SeasonDivision (Name)Pos./TeamsPl.WDLGSGAPLatvian Football CupTop Scorer (League)Head Coach
19921st (Virsliga)1/(12)241822511038Winner Aleksejs Semjonovs – 12 Marks Zahodins
19931st (Virsliga)1/(10)181701637341/2 finals Aleksandrs Jeļisejevs – 20 Aleksandrs Starkovs
19941st (Virsliga)1/(12)222020769421/4 finals Vladimirs Babičevs – 14 Aleksandrs Starkovs
19951st (Virsliga)1/(10)282530991578Winner Vitālijs Astafjevs – 15 Aleksandrs Starkovs
19961st (Virsliga)1/(10)282341981273Runner-up Aleksandr Pindeyev – 17 Aleksandrs Starkovs
19971st (Virsliga)1/(9)24204089864Winner David Chaladze – 25 Aleksandrs Starkovs
19981st (Virsliga)1/(8)282143982767Winner Mihails Miholaps – 20 Aleksandrs Starkovs
19991st (Virsliga)1/(8)282305881569Runner-up David Chaladze – 16 Aleksandrs Starkovs
20001st (Virsliga)1/(8)282431861075Winner Vladimirs Koļesņičenko – 17 Aleksandrs Starkovs
20011st (Virsliga)1/(8)282224942668Winner Mihails Miholaps – 24 Aleksandrs Starkovs
20021st (Virsliga)1/(8)282341951973Winner Mihails Miholaps – 23 Aleksandrs Starkovs
20031st (Virsliga)1/(8)28234191973Runner-up Māris Verpakovskis – 22 Aleksandrs Starkovs
20041st (Virsliga)1/(8)2822336518691/2 finals Mihails Miholaps – 16 Aleksandrs Starkovs / Jurijs Andrejevs
20051st (Virsliga)2/(8)2817745925581/2 finals Gatis Kalniņš – 15 Jurijs Andrejevs / Paul Ashworth
20061st (Virsliga)3/(8)281666552154Runner-up Mihails Miholaps – 15 Paul Ashworth
20071st (Virsliga)4/(8)2816755427551/2 finals Astafjevs / Blanks / Višņakovs – 7 Paul Ashworth
20081st (Virsliga)3/(10)2815754331711/2 finals Vladimir Dvalishvili – 9 Paul Ashworth
20091st (Virsliga)3/(9)322345983073Not Held Ivans Lukjanovs – 14 Paul Ashworth / Aleksandrs Starkovs
20101st (Virsliga)1/(10)2722328616691/2 finals Nathan Júnior – 18 Aleksandrs Starkovs
20111st (Virsliga)4/(9)3217966221601/4 finals Nathan Júnior – 22 Marians Pahars
20121st (Virsliga)2/(10)3621114582274Winner Šabala / Labukas – 11 Marians Pahars
20131st (Virsliga)2/(10)2718816811621/4 finals Artūrs Karašausks – 16 Tamaz Pertia
20141st (Virsliga)2/(10)3625110773471Runner-up Vladislavs Gutkovskis – 28 Tamaz Pertia
20151st (Virsliga)2/(7)2413654223451/4 finals Vladislavs Gutkovskis – 10 Tamaz Pertia
20162nd (1.liga)6/(15)2816210714042Fourth round Jegors Morozs  – 18 Tamaz Pertia

European record edit

1992–93UEFA Champions League KÍ Klaksvík3–03–16–1
1 Lech Poznań0–00–20–2
1993–94UEFA Champions LeaguePR Olimpija Ljubljana0–11–01–1 (11–10 p)
1 Spartak Moskva0–50–40–9
1994–95UEFA CupPrR Aberdeen0–01–11–1 (a)
1 Napoli0–10–20–3
1995–96UEFA CupPrR Maribor0–21–01–2
1996–97UEFA CupPrR Newtown3–04–17–1
QR Malmö FF1–10–31–4
1997–98UEFA Champions League1QR Valletta2–00–12–1
2QR Barcelona0–12–32–4
1997–98UEFA Cup1 Real Valladolid1–00–21–2
1998–99UEFA Champions League1QR Dinamo Minsk0–02–12–1
2QR Internazionale1–30–41–7
1998–99UEFA Cup1 Dynamo Moscow2–32–24–5
1999–00UEFA Champions League1QR Jeunesse Esch8–02–010–0
2QR Rapid București2–13–35–4
3QR Chelsea0–00–30–3
1999–00UEFA Cup1 Widzew Łódź1–00–21–2
2000–01UEFA Champions League1QR Shamkir FK2–11–43–5
2001–02UEFA Champions League1QR F91 Dudelange0–16–16–2
2QR Wisła Kraków0–11–21–3
2002–03UEFA Champions League1QR Barry Town5–01–06–0
2QR Levski Sofia0–00–20–2
2003–04UEFA Champions League1QR Sliema Wanderers3–10–23–3 (a)
2004–05UEFA Champions League1QR Rhyl4–03–17–1
2QR Trabzonspor0–31–11–4
2005–06UEFA Champions League1QR FK Rabotnički1–00–61–6
2006–07UEFA Cup1QR Jeunesse Esch3–02–05–0
2QR Molde1–20–01–2
2007–08UEFA Cup1QR Dinamo Minsk0–21–11–3
2009–10UEFA Europa League2QR Derry City1–10–11–2
2010–11UEFA Europa League1QR Portadown0–11–11–2
2011–12UEFA Champions League2QR Wisła Kraków0–10–20–3
2012–13UEFA Europa League2QR Hajduk Split1–00–21–2
2013–14UEFA Europa League1QR Tiraspol0–11–01–1 (4–2 p.)
2QR Slovan Liberec2–10–12–2 (a)
2015–16UEFA Europa League1QR St Patrick's Athletic2–12–04–1
2QR Debrecen2–22–94–11

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

UEFA Team ranking 2014–15 edit

341 FK Zeta3.125
342 Stjarnan3.100
343 Skonto FC3.100
344 FK Liepājas Metalurgs3.100
345 Bangor City3.075

See also edit

References edit

  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. ^ a b 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". 31 August 2004. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  5. ^ ""Skonto" trenēs Ešvorts". 16 July 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Skonto zaudē Portadown un izstājas no UEFA Eiropas līgas turnīra". 8 July 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Skonto – 2010. gada LMT Virslīgas čempions futbolā". 31 October 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Indriksons pamet "Skonto" kluba prezidenta amatu". 26 February 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Pahars kļūst par U-21 izlases galveno treneri". 21 December 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  10. ^ "". 12 May 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Iepriekš uz mūžu diskvalificētais Pertija kļuvis par Skonto galveno treneri". 22 December 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  12. ^ ""Ventspils" uzvar Rīgā un kļūst par Latvijas čempioni". 9 November 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Skonto spēlē teicami, gūst skaistus vārtus un pieveic Slovan". 18 July 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  14. ^ ""Skonto" un Daugavpils "Daugava" saņem licences startam virslīgā". 21 March 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  15. ^ "UEFA diskvalificē "Skonto" no Eiropas līgas turnīra". 5 April 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  16. ^ ""Skonto" tiks piemērots aizliegums reģistrēt jaunus futbolistus". 30 May 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  17. ^ ""Skonto" tiek ieskaitīts tehniskais zaudējums un piemērota soda nauda". 9 July 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Koļesņičenko pametis "Skonto" prezidenta amatu". 14 July 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  19. ^ "LFF Apelāciju komisija 'Skonto' un 'Jūrmalas' sodu samazina līdz vienam punktam". 17 September 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Apturēta "Skonto" saimnieciskā darbība". 14 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  21. ^ ""Skonto" un "Jūrmalai" atņemti vēl četri punkti, intriga Virslīgā izplēn". 15 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  22. ^ ""Skonto" apsver apelācijas iesniegšanu, Zaicevs vakar atkāpies no amata". 15 October 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Uldriķis: "Spēlētāju uzticība tika atalgota ar divu gadu parādu atdošanu"". 26 November 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  24. ^ a b "LFF Klubu licencēšanas komisijas 29. janvāra lēmums". (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". (in Latvian). 11 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  26. ^ "RTU/"Skonto Academy" 1. līgā nespēlēs, "Bebri" apvienojas ar "Dinamo"". (in Latvian). 9 January 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Skonto stadions". Retrieved 8 October 2014.

External links edit