Here are some numbers for you: Eight. That’s the number of months Tom Tomsk’s players have gone without being paid. 18. That’s the number of players who left the club this winter because of the unpaid salaries. 11. This was the number of academy players that were registered for the first team in the winter to replace those that left. 10. That’s the number of goals Tom have conceded in the first two Russian Football Premier League games this year. Zero. That’s the number of goals they have scored themselves.
When looking at the above-mentioned numbers, it is no surprise that Tom are dead last in the RFPL with just nine points for 19 games, and that they are firm favourites to be relegated this season.
The numbers also reveal a much sadder truth though. The Siberian outfit is simply damaging the sporting integrity of Russian top flight with their irresponsible behavior.
The first two games this spring have proved that the new Tom team, where only eight players have played in the RFPL before, is nothing more than a walk-over and the closest you get to a free victory in professional football. A team like that has no business in the league that is currently ranked as the sixth best in Europe by UEFA. Tom have spent the entire winter fighting for their lives, and while that’s admirable, it is difficult to see the point in them competing in the second half of the season. The team that earned promotion, by finishing third in the Football National League, is certainly no more.
For Lokomotiv Moscow and FC Ufa, who met Tom twice in the fall, and thus have no more games against them, it must be incredibly frustrating to see teams get such easy victories this spring, especially for Ufa who had to fight hard for their 1-0 victory in December.
Another problem with Tom, is that they have moved their previous two home games to the away team’s stadium, and might move even more, because of the poor pitch condition in Tomsk. While it certainly is difficult to play football in Siberia in December and March, it is hurtful to the league that FC Rostov and Lokomotiv get two home games against Tom (games that were won with the total score of 12-1), while Ufa, who are also fighting for European football played in Tomsk and lost 1-0.
These are all factors that distort the league table, and by the end of the season, these small things can end up making a big difference for some clubs at both the bottom and the top of the table. The whole point of the 30-game season where teams play home and away against each other is to make it as equal or the teams as possible, but Tom are ruining this.
At the end of the day, it would probably have been better had Tom been kicked out of the tournament, but unfortunately neither the Russian Football Union nor the FIFPro-approved Union of Football Players and Coaches care enough about the players to actually make any changes and hand out serious punishments.
Author: Toke Møller Theilade
Brøndby supporter, groundhopper and more importantly Editor-in-Chief at Russianfootballnews.com. As a hopeless romantic, I still believe Fyodor Smolov and Viktoria Lopyreva has a future together.