The Russian-English Premier Liga & English Football National League

Russian fans often scorn the RPL clubs when they complain about having to play midweeks. Invariably, they cite the English Premier League as an example: “Look, they’ve been playing midweeks all the time since time immemorial, and they are no worse for wear.” Yes, they have and they are, but there’s a nuance.

This season, the furthest north-south travel in the English Premier League is 471 km long (flying distance between Newcastle and Bournemouth; all further distances are given as flying), and the furthest east-west travel is 212 km (from Cardiff to London). In Russian terms, this would mean that the entire competition is held in a quadrant that has Moscow on its western border, Ryazan on the southern, Vladimir on the eastern and Vologda on the northern – in other words, the entire English Premier League championship is contested on the territory roughly equal to the Vtoraya Liga PFL, West Zone (third-tier territoral division).

Russian-English Premier League

And now let us continue our thought experiment. We’ll imagine that London is Moscow, measure the distances and directions Moscow-based clubs have to travel in Russian Premier League, and then try and find the closest approximation for the London-based clubs to travel.

Arsenal Tula (~170 km south from Moscow): make your choice

170 km south of London is the middle of the English Channel, so let’s relax the rules just this once. Pick any team 170 plus-minus 10 km away from London: Bristol City (or Rovers), Aston Villa (or Birmingham City), Wolverhampton Wanderers, Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Norwich City or, if you’re feeling extremely generous, Boston United. This is going to be your only English non-London team in our “Russian English Premier League”, and one of only two non-London UK-based teams. We’ve went with Villa as is most recognisable in Russia.

Zenit St. Petersburg (~640 km north-west from Moscow): Aberdeen

Let that sink in: Saint-Petersburg is the second closest city to Moscow that hosts a Russian Premier League team. And it’s further away from Moscow than almost any English big-enough town is from another. (It’s 647 kilometers from Truro to Berwick.) This is also the venue of England’s loss to Belgium in the third place play-off, but let’s not think about this now, shall we?

Anyway, St. Petersburg is slightly more to the west from Moscow than Aberdeen is from London, but it’s the only reasonably strong Scottish team 640 km north from London.

And now, we’re leaving the United Kingdom and getting to travel all around Europe. Let’s first go south.

Rostov (~960 km south and slightly east from Moscow): Andorra

Some Manchester United fans (sorry, you’re not in our Russian English Premier League due to geographic constraints) surely remember Rostov and their fans’ warm greetings. This team made some splashes in the European competitions a couple of years ago. If we go directly 960 km south from London, we’ll get to (ahem) Andorra. (Actually, it’s 1000 km, but let us have some leeway here, ok?) So, Andorra it is.

Krasnodar (~1200 km south from Moscow): Barcelona

OK, we added 40 kilometers to the Rostov distance, let’s take them away now to get Barcelona (about 1150 km south from London) instead of some unsightly teams such as Castellon or Villarreal. Krasnodar have finally come into their own this season in Russia, emerging as the main competitor of Zenit, so Barcelona would be an adequate stand-in.

Akhmat Grozny (~1500 km southeast from Moscow): Cagliari

This even looks somewhat appropriate: for a formerly-separatist region of Russia, we get a formerly-separatist region of Italy, Sardinia Island (at least they don’t have their Italian equivalent of Ramzan Kadyrov to govern them… I hope).

Anzhi Makhachkala (~1600 km southeast from Moscow): Napoli

That’s probably the best trade-off between RPL and our REPL. Instead of ailing, underfunded club likely poised for relegation, we get an Italian powerhouse.

Our southern excursion is over, so now let’s go east. This is the most fun part, I assure you!

Rubin Kazan (~720 km east from Moscow): VfL Wolfsburg

Okay, Wolfsburg is 760 km east from London, not 720, but these plus-minus 40 kilometers tend to come up over and over again, so let that pass. Liverpool fans (who, like MU fans, aren’t in our Russian English Premier League) must remember travelling to Kazan some three years ago. By the way, Nizhny Novgorod Arena, the site of Harry Kane’s hat-trick against Panama, is roughly halfway between Moscow and Kazan.

Krylya Sovetov Samara (~850 km east and south from Moscow): 1. FC Nürnberg

If only Samara was 70 kilometers further from Moscow, we could get Bayern Munich in our REPL! Alas, it’s not the case, so we’d have to settle for a smaller Bavarian club, 1. FC Nürnberg. Still, the English fans probably still have warm feelings for Krylya Sovetov’s stadium, Samara Arena, which saw their national team defeating Sweden and progressing to the World Cup semi-final. Football didn’t come home this summer, but it surely put a foot in the doorway.

Ufa (~1170 km east from Moscow): ?l?sk Wroc?aw

Um… who? (This is pronounced more like “Shlensk”, by the way.) This Polish club played Liverpool in UEFA Cup more than 40 years ago, and, well… that’s it.

Orenburg (~1230 km east and south from Moscow): Rapid Wien

We finally got an exact match: my map shows that Wien is exactly 1230 km from London! The most successful Austrian club is a more than adequate replacement for Orenburg, don’t you think?

Ural Ekaterinburg (~1420 km east and slightly north from Moscow): Legia Warsaw

And here’s a second Polish club in our league for you. Legia is a slightly better-known entity than ?l?sk, that’s for sure.

But can we really call our league “Russian English Premier League” if it doesn’t involve trips to Russia? Wait, we got it covered too!

Enisey Krasnoyarsk (~3370 km east from Moscow): Krylya Sovetov Samara

Yes! It’s 3370 km from London to Samara, and now our English fans can make periodic nostalgic trips to Cosmos Arena in our fantasy league.

REPL | Russian Fooball News

All in all, looks like we got ourselves a good 18-team league here. Have fun to play midweeks!

And if you want a 20-team league, I’m leaving you with a tantalizing choice. Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United. Pick two.

English Football National League

But that’s not all the fun! For the die-hard Liverpool fans who do want to participate in our English Russian League, I devised another table: “If EPL were FNL”, with Liverpool as Baltika Kaliningrad. This time, there will be literally no other English or British teams in the league, with five Russian and even one Mongolian.

Two clubs from Poland will have to pull double duty – they’re an almost perfect match both for REPL and EFNL!

Kalmar, Malm? and Copenhagen are located closely enough to each other to be an imperfect stand-in for Chertanovo, Khimki and Spartak-2.

EFNL | Russian Football News

I hope that now you understand somewhat better why FNL is called “The most difficult league in the world”, and why even RPL teams are sometimes prone to bankruptcy.

READ MORE: Problems with the Trans-Siberian Football League


Author: Alexey ‘Spektrowski’ Zakharov

I’m a Spartak Moscow fan who dabbles in Soviet/Russian football history (mostly numerical and statistical). Contributed some data to the Spartak Moscow museum at Otkrytie Arena.


  1. […] Liga-Fu?baller Woche für Woche bereisen müssen. Denn der Artikel pr?sentiert ein Gedankenspiel: Stell dir vor, London w?re Moskau. In welche anderen St?dte müsste man von dort aus zu Ausw?rtsspielen reisen, um genau so gro?e […]

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