After a brief hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Ukrainian Premier Liha is back. On 26 May, Maksym Stepanov, the Ukrainian Minister of Health, approved the resumption of the 2019/20 UPL season. Andriy Pavelko, the President of the Ukrainian Football Association, then announced that the league would resume on 30 May. The Ukrainian Football Association also intends to see the completion of the 2019/20 Ukrainian Cup competition.
In the interest and safety of their fans, the Ukrainian clubs will play the remainder of the season behind closed doors. To limit player injuries caused by match fatigue, teams will also be allowed to use up to five substitutions per game, a temporary amendment that was recently introduced by FIFA. This substitution rule change will be in effect for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, although it may also be applied to the 2020/21 season.
Kolos Kovalivka and Desna Chernihiv will headline the restart of the UPL on Saturday, 30 May. The main attraction, however, will be the Ukrainian derby, where Shakhtar Donetsk will host Dynamo Kyiv on Sunday, 31 May. Known as the Klasychne derby, the matches played between Shakhtar and Dynamo in Ukraine are equivalent to Germany’s Der Klassiker between Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund or Spain’s El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Shakhtar Donetsk currently lead the UPL with 59 points. The Miners are 13 points clear of second-placed Zorya Luhansk, and Shakhtar are on course to win their fourth consecutive UPL title in five seasons.
Mark Temnycky is an AIPS accredited journalist who covers the Ukrainian men’s national team and Ukrainian clubs competing in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the Futbolgrad Network. Follow him @MTemnycky