Skonto FC
Full nameSkonto Football Club
Founded15 December 1991; 32 years ago (1991-12-15)
as Forums-Skonto
Dissolved1 December 2016; 7 years ago (2016-12-01)
GroundSkonto Stadium, Riga
Capacity9,500
ChairmanGuntis Indriksons
LeagueLatvian First League
20168th
WebsiteClub website

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]

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

History

Fourteen titles in a row (1991–2004)

Skonto FC was founded in 1991, under the guise of Forums-Skonto, 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)

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)

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)

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

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

Honours

Partners

General sponsors

Vacant

Kit manufacturer

Germany Jako

Other sponsors

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

Players and staff

Player of the season (since 2010)

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

Managers

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

League and Cup history

Latvian SSR

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 Latvia Jevgeņijs Gorjačilovs – 25 Latvia Marks Zahodins

Latvia

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 Latvia Aleksejs Semjonovs – 12 Latvia Marks Zahodins
1993 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 18 17 0 1 63 7 34 1/2 finals Latvia Aleksandrs Jeļisejevs – 20 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
1994 1st (Virsliga) 1/(12) 22 20 2 0 76 9 42 1/4 finals Latvia Vladimirs Babičevs – 14 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
1995 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 28 25 3 0 99 15 78 Winner Latvia Vitālijs Astafjevs – 15 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
1996 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 28 23 4 1 98 12 73 Runner-up Ukraine Aleksandr Pindeyev – 17 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
1997 1st (Virsliga) 1/(9) 24 20 4 0 89 8 64 Winner Georgia (country) David Chaladze – 25 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
1998 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 21 4 3 98 27 67 Winner Latvia Mihails Miholaps – 20 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
1999 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 23 0 5 88 15 69 Runner-up Georgia (country) David Chaladze – 16 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
2000 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 24 3 1 86 10 75 Winner Latvia Vladimirs Koļesņičenko – 17 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
2001 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 22 2 4 94 26 68 Winner Latvia Mihails Miholaps – 24 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
2002 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 23 4 1 95 19 73 Winner Latvia Mihails Miholaps – 23 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
2003 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 23 4 1 91 9 73 Runner-up Latvia Māris Verpakovskis – 22 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
2004 1st (Virsliga) 1/(8) 28 22 3 3 65 18 69 1/2 finals Latvia Mihails Miholaps – 16 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs / Latvia Jurijs Andrejevs
2005 1st (Virsliga) 2/(8) 28 17 7 4 59 25 58 1/2 finals Latvia Gatis Kalniņš – 15 Latvia Jurijs Andrejevs / England Paul Ashworth
2006 1st (Virsliga) 3/(8) 28 16 6 6 55 21 54 Runner-up Latvia Mihails Miholaps – 15 England Paul Ashworth
2007 1st (Virsliga) 4/(8) 28 16 7 5 54 27 55 1/2 finals Latvia Astafjevs / Latvia Blanks / Latvia Višņakovs – 7 England Paul Ashworth
2008 1st (Virsliga) 3/(10) 28 15 7 5 43 31 71 1/2 finals Georgia (country) Vladimir Dvalishvili – 9 England Paul Ashworth
2009 1st (Virsliga) 3/(9) 32 23 4 5 98 30 73 Not Held Latvia Ivans Lukjanovs – 14 England Paul Ashworth / Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
2010 1st (Virsliga) 1/(10) 27 22 3 2 86 16 69 1/2 finals Brazil Nathan Júnior – 18 Latvia Aleksandrs Starkovs
2011 1st (Virsliga) 4/(9) 32 17 9 6 62 21 60 1/4 finals Brazil Nathan Júnior – 22 Latvia Marians Pahars
2012 1st (Virsliga) 2/(10) 36 21 11 4 58 22 74 Winner Latvia Šabala / Lithuania Labukas – 11 Latvia Marians Pahars
2013 1st (Virsliga) 2/(10) 27 18 8 1 68 11 62 1/4 finals Latvia Artūrs Karašausks – 16 Georgia (country) Tamaz Pertia
2014 1st (Virsliga) 2/(10) 36 25 1 10 77 34 71 Runner-up Latvia Vladislavs Gutkovskis – 28 Georgia (country) Tamaz Pertia
2015 1st (Virsliga) 2/(7) 24 13 6 5 42 23 45 1/4 finals Latvia Vladislavs Gutkovskis – 10 Georgia (country) Tamaz Pertia
2016 2nd (1.liga) 6/(15) 28 16 2 10 71 40 42 Fourth round Latvia Jegors Morozs  – 18 Georgia (country) Tamaz Pertia

European record

Season Competition Round Country Opponent Home Away Aggregate
1992–93 UEFA Champions League Faroe Islands KÍ Klaksvík 3–0 3–1 6–1
1 Poland Lech Poznań 0–0 0–2 0–2
1993–94 UEFA Champions League PR Slovenia Olimpija Ljubljana 0–1 1–0 1–1 (11–10 p)
1 Russia Spartak Moskva 0–5 0–4 0–9
1994–95 UEFA Cup PrR Scotland Aberdeen 0–0 1–1 1–1 (a)
1 Italy Napoli 0–1 0–2 0–3
1995–96 UEFA Cup PrR Slovenia Maribor 0–2 1–0 1–2
1996–97 UEFA Cup PrR Wales Newtown 3–0 4–1 7–1
QR Sweden Malmö FF 1–1 0–3 1–4
1997–98 UEFA Champions League 1QR Malta Valletta 2–0 0–1 2–1
2QR Spain Barcelona 0–1 2–3 2–4
1997–98 UEFA Cup 1 Spain Real Valladolid 1–0 0–2 1–2
1998–99 UEFA Champions League 1QR Belarus Dinamo Minsk 0–0 2–1 2–1
2QR Italy Internazionale 1–3 0–4 1–7
1998–99 UEFA Cup 1 Russia Dynamo Moscow 2–3 2–2 4–5
1999–00 UEFA Champions League 1QR Luxembourg Jeunesse Esch 8–0 2–0 10–0
2QR Romania Rapid București 2–1 3–3 5–4
3QR England Chelsea 0–0 0–3 0–3
1999–00 UEFA Cup 1 Poland Widzew Łódź 1–0 0–2 1–2
2000–01 UEFA Champions League 1QR Azerbaijan Shamkir FK 2–1 1–4 3–5
2001–02 UEFA Champions League 1QR Luxembourg F91 Dudelange 0–1 6–1 6–2
2QR Poland Wisła Kraków 0–1 1–2 1–3
2002–03 UEFA Champions League 1QR Wales Barry Town 5–0 1–0 6–0
2QR Bulgaria Levski Sofia 0–0 0–2 0–2
2003–04 UEFA Champions League 1QR Malta Sliema Wanderers 3–1 0–2 3–3 (a)
2004–05 UEFA Champions League 1QR Wales Rhyl 4–0 3–1 7–1
2QR Turkey Trabzonspor 0–3 1–1 1–4
2005–06 UEFA Champions League 1QR North Macedonia FK Rabotnički 1–0 0–6 1–6
2006–07 UEFA Cup 1QR Luxembourg Jeunesse Esch 3–0 2–0 5–0
2QR Norway Molde 1–2 0–0 1–2
2007–08 UEFA Cup 1QR Belarus Dinamo Minsk 0–2 1–1 1–3
2009–10 UEFA Europa League 2QR Republic of Ireland Derry City 1–1 0–1 1–2
2010–11 UEFA Europa League 1QR Northern Ireland Portadown 0–1 1–1 1–2
2011–12 UEFA Champions League 2QR Poland Wisła Kraków 0–1 0–2 0–3
2012–13 UEFA Europa League 2QR Croatia Hajduk Split 1–0 0–2 1–2
2013–14 UEFA Europa League 1QR Moldova Tiraspol 0–1 1–0 1–1 (4–2 p.)
2QR Czech Republic Slovan Liberec 2–1 0–1 2–2 (a)
2015–16 UEFA Europa League 1QR Republic of Ireland St Patrick's Athletic 2–1 2–0 4–1
2QR Hungary 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 2014–15

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

See also

References

  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". 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. ^ "Futbolavirsliga.lv". 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.
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  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. ^ "RTU/"Skonto Academy" 1. līgā nespēlēs, "Bebri" apvienojas ar "Dinamo"". Sportacentrs.com (in Latvian). 9 January 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  27. ^ "Skonto stadions". skontofc.com. Retrieved 8 October 2014.