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All about the Ukrainian First League
The Ukrainian First League (Ukrainian: ерa ла) is a professional football league in Ukraine and the second tier of the national football tournaments pyramid. The league's members also compete in the Ukrainian Cup.
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The league was established as a second-tier, below the Ukrainian Higher League (Vyshcha Liha) and above the Ukrainian Transitional League, by the newly reorganized Football Federation of Ukraine (a successor to the Football Federation of the Ukrainian SSR).
The league's first round of games took played on March 14, 1992. The league itself had only been formed a few months before and comprised mostly of all Ukrainian clubs that had previously participated in one of the Soviet Lower Second League's groups (4th tier, see Ukrainian Soviet competitions). Some Soviet Top League reserve squads from the Soviet Top League reserve squads tournament, as well as the three top amateur performances from the Ukrainian football championship, KFK, have been included in the league (Fitness clubs).
The Persha Liha (First League) is the second tier of the Ukrainian professional football league system, behind the Vyshcha Liha (Higher League) (now known as the Ukrainian Premier League).
The First League was absorbed into the Professional Football League (PFL), which merged all non-amateur football leagues (Top, First, and Second). The Constituent Conference of non-amateur teams convened on May 26, 1996, to establish the professional league and finalize its legislation and administration. The majority of clubs that had previously competed in Ukrainian football league tournaments were reformed as professional teams, a process that began in the late 1980s. The professional league and numerous other national football organizations struck an agreement on July 17 to host tournaments among professional clubs (its members). According to the newspaper Halychyna (Ivano-Frankivsk), the league's teams' yearly budgets ranged from 6 to 30 million hryvnias in 2010.
When the Ukrainian Premier League reformed as a self-governing body on April 15, 2008, the League officially became the premier league of the Professional Football League (PFL). The Premier League usually promotes the top two clubs from the First League, while the Premier League's bottom two clubs are demoted to the First League. Because each club is only permitted to have one squad in each league, the second squad's promotion is frequently invalid, allowing the third-placed club to be promoted during the season. Dynamo Kyiv's second team is one of the most successful in Ukraine (FC Dynamo-2 Kyiv).
The league's competition follows a standard double round-robin structure, in which each club plays each other twice. The league's contests run from fall to spring. However, due to Ukraine's environment, the mid-season winter break is frequently longer than the summer break between competitive seasons. Since 1995, the league has used the same point system as the rest of Europe: three points for a victory, one point for a tie, and none for a defeat.
The league's membership has fluctuated over its existence. The league had 20 or more participants in its early years, before 1999. Later on, it was proposed that the number of members in all leagues be reduced in order to increase competition quality. Except for a few seasons in 2006–2008, the number of players was decreased to 18 until 2013. Since 2013, the number has been cut even more to 16, where it has remained since.
Two better clubs from the First League are traditionally switched for two inferior teams from the Premier (Higher) League. A third team has a possibility of promotion on rare occasions, although there have also been seasons where only one club was promoted. Only three clubs have been promoted to the top division twice, both times owing to top tier expansion. The Premier League accepts the league champion and, in most cases, the second-placed runner-up. However, because a club's second team cannot be promoted if its senior team is in a higher level, on a few occasions when a second club team finished in the top two spots, the third-placed team was promoted to the top league. In 2013, a precedent was created when a club declined to be promoted of its own volition. Another precedent was set in 2017 when a team that had achieved promotion was denied it due to an administrative decision.
The league's relegation policy is a little different, albeit it was initially two for two as well. The Second League (second tier) became a de facto regional league in 1996, with two (three) regional groups. The league has also reduced the number of competitors from 22-24 to merely 16-18. There were also a handful of withdrawals, which resulted in an additional number being added to the rotation at times. Previously, relegation or promotion play-offs were normally held only in the event of unforeseen events, such as a team's departure from the league, and were frequently planned after the season had ended. Relegation play-offs have been a well-established tradition since 2011. The number of clubs withdrawing from the First League has grown since the turn of the millennium. To combat this, the league has taken a more stringent approach to each club's financial status in order to avoid withdrawals during the season.
4. Past winners and runners