Five years ago Kharkiv actually lost football. Because of the political situation the legendary Metalist with nearly half a century of history stopped existing and the first capital city was left without a football club. That’s when fans took the initiative to revive the game. Having made every effort, a group of football fans and former Metalist players created a new club – Metalist 1925, whose main athletes were graduates of the disbanded team`s academy.
A good sports base and motivation to return Kharkiv to its former football success allowed the young team to quickly make a name for itself at all-Ukrainian level. In season 2016/2017 the club became a finalist of the Amateur Championship of Ukraine, in subsequent seasons – the winners of the Second and First league, and finally, this season Metalist 1925 represents the city in the UPL.
Not so long ago Kharkiv investment industrial group AES Group became the new ultimate beneficiary of FC “Metalist 1925”. We talked to the president of AES Group – Konstantin Valeulin about whether the club will change, what the development strategy will be and why football is important for business.
-Financing young clubs in the initial stages is quite resource-intensive. Sponsorship and advertising contracts are still scarce, the transfer of players is also low, and we are not talking about earnings from the sale of television rights, tickets and attributes. Why has AES Group decided to invest in the field that is obviously not profitable?
-There’s no question of a return on any investment from the very beginning. This is our conscious contribution to the city, sports and tomorrow. Why “Metalist 1925” was chosen for this purpose is also easy to understand. In 2016 the city was left without its main football club. Without a legend. Without football. And the victims of this situation was really a lot. The whole team of the club, and children who lost the sports facilities, and Kharkiv citizens themselves, for most of whom football is important.
But people didn`t stay indifferent. Kharkiv citizens with their own forces on a voluntary basis created a radically new football product, built on the principles of teamwork. The club was created with the bare enthusiasm and patriotism of ordinary citizens. It was not like the others from the very beginning. This is the people`s team, where the fans are directly involved in the life of the club: from the activities in the relevant committees to the financing. At the moment “Metalist 1925” managed to change its organizational and legal structure in accordance with European trends. It may sound pompous, but to support such a club and help Kharkiv football regain its former glory – that’s the pride for us.
A little later in Kharkiv again appeared a club with the name “Metalist”. Despite the fact that it has nothing in common with the Soviet football club, it is possible that in the minds of Kharkiv citizens it is its successor and heir to the victories. Are not you worried that the teams will be difficult to distinguish from each other? Is there any uniqueness for the blue and yellow?
First comes sports, and then comes business – this is the main difference between “Metalist 1925”, in my opinion. We really want to keep the peculiarity of the club, which is the approach, where the key value – the fans, who are the main ideologists of the team. The club develops with the full complicity of its fans, where everyone can be heard, participates in the election of the club management and controls its activities. Therefore, for the unique identity of “Metalist 1925” we`re not worried and we respect our sporting rivals. Sport is competition, without rivals it would be impossible.