FC Rotor Volgograd
|Full name||Football Club Rotor Volgograd|
FC Rotor Volgograd (Russian: ФК Ротор Волгоград) is a Russian football (soccer) club from the large city of Volgograd, Volgograd Oblast (formerly Stalingrad). The club plays in the second-level Russian National Football League. They are the largest and best supported Volgograd club and for most of their existence have been the city's only representatives in the national league system. They played at the top level of Soviet/Russian football either side of World War II, from 1989 to 1990, and from 1991 to 2004. During the 1990s they were one of the strongest clubs in newly independent Russia and qualified for European competition four times. In recent years financial and ownership difficulties have repeatedly threatened their professional status and they have played mostly in lower regional leagues.
Both the current team name and the former name "Traktor" are references to the Stalingrad Tractor Factory, once a major producer of tractors, and the scene of heavy fighting during the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II.
The creation of a Russian national football pyramid immediately prior to World War II propelled Traktor Stalingrad to national prominence. Traktor were champions of the new fourth-level Group G in 1937, and were then promoted straight to the highest-level Group A as it expanded from 9 clubs to 26. They remained at the top level until 1950.
Rotor then spent three decades at the top regional level, although the creation of the Supreme League in 1970 pushed their league from the second level overall down to the third. They gradually improved throughout the 1970s and finally won Zone III of the Soviet Second League (the third tier) in 1980 and 1981, and were successful in the promotion playoffs the second time.
In 1988 Rotor finished second in the Soviet First League, earning promotion to the Soviet Top League. They finished 13th and last in the downsized 1990 competition after the Georgian and Lithuanian teams withdrew, and the decision was made to relegate them. However they bounced straight back as champions of the First League in 1991, thus becoming founder members of the new Russian Top Division after the USSR collapsed.
Top Division/Premier League and Europe
In the mid-1990s, Rotor was one of the strongest clubs in Russia, rivalling Spartak Moscow for the championship, yet never winning it. Rotor became the league runners-up in 1993 and 1997.
Rotor played five successive seasons in European competition, from 1994-95 to 1998-99. They qualified for the UEFA Cup through their league position every year except 1996-97, when they instead chose to enter the Intertoto Cup. Unfortunately for Rotor, the fall of communism had left all the former Eastern Bloc leagues badly under-resourced compared to their Western counterparts, and indeed Rotor were knocked out by all four of the French and Italian clubs they played. The exception came against England's Manchester United in 1995-96. Having drawn the home leg 0-0, Rotor raced into a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford before United scored their first goal. Rotor were seconds away from being the first European club to win at Old Trafford when United's goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel scored a famous equaliser, but the 2-2 draw meant Rotor progressed by the away goals rule They went on to be defeated by eventual Runners-up Bordeaux in the second round.
Full European results:
|1995–96||UEFA Cup||1R||Manchester United||0–0||2–2 (a)||2–2|
|1996–97||Intertoto Cup||Group 7||Ataka-Aura||4-0|
|1997–98||UEFA Cup||QR||Odra Wodzislaw||2–0||4–3||6–3|
|1998–99||UEFA Cup||QR||Red Star Belgrade||1–2||1–2||2–4|
- QR: Qualifying round
In the 2000s, Rotor's results declined, and in 2004, the team finished last in the Russian Premier League. The club's owner Vladimir Goryunov, a member of the Duma and head of the parliamentary sports committee, explored options to save Rotor from relegation, such as expanding the Premier League to 20 teams. But in January 2005 Rotor were unable to make the required financial guarantees and so lost their professional licence entirely.
2005-2014: Financial troubles and decline
Rotor's reserve side in the Russian Second Division, Rotor-2 Volgograd, became the club's first team and was renamed Rotor in 2006. In 2007 local businessman Oleg Mikheev acquired the club's main asset the Volgograd Central Stadium, and with it effective control over the club, but financial troubles continued and the team's performances in the Second Division declined.
Matters came to a head in 2009. Russia had officially launched its bid for the FIFA World Cup 2018 and Volgograd city was in line for a new stadium - provided they had a professional club to fill it after the tournament. Rotor, facing legal action and a transfer embargo due to their financial status, were not reliable candidates. The government created a new entity, FC Volgograd, intending to assume the Rotor name. In fact Rotor managed to co-exist with the new FC for the first half of the 2009 season, before Mikheev suspended operations and the government took ownership of the club and stadium from him. The two clubs were merged into one, and the new Rotor Volgograd were promoted to the second-level Russian Football National League thanks to teams above them withdrawing.
The regional Ministry of Sport invested 150 million roubles ($4.9m) in the club's playing budget for the 2010 campaign, but it ended in failure as Rotor were relegated in 17th place. Governor Brovko admitted that the transition to the higher level was made too quickly. Former club player Sergei Nechay took over management and steered the team to promotion as champions of their Second Division zone in 2011–12. This time they were able to consolidate in the National League, finishing 9th and then 14th.
But financial troubles continued. A Ministry of Sport investigation found evidence of financial misconduct by club management along with substantial overspending, and regional Governor Andrey Bocharov announced after the 2013 season that government support for Rotor was being withdrawn. The club dropped back into the Second Division (renamed the Professional Football League) for the first half of the 2014–15 (autumn-spring) season, then withdrew in order to immediately transfer to the 2015 (spring-autumn) Russian Amateur Football League, the fourth level overall.
In the 2015 season Rotor won the Amateur League Chernozemye (South-West Region) division at the first attempt by 11 points, suffering only one defeat in 22 games. The 45,000-seater Pobeda Stadium is under construction on their old Central Stadium site, and it was reported in August 2015 that the first team are still interested in moving into the facility after the 2018 World Cup, which makes attaining a higher league status a priority. They were licensed for third-tier Russian Professional Football League for the 2016–17 season. They won their zone of the PFL in the 2016–17 season and were promoted to the second-level Russian National Football League for 2017–18.
Despite ending the 2017–18 season in the relegation zone, the club stayed in the league for the 2018–19 season as another team that finished above them in the table failed to obtain the league license.
- Russian Championship
- Runners-up: 2 (1993, 1997)
- Russian Cup
- Runners-up: 1 (1995)
- Soviet First League
- Winner: 1 (1991)
- Soviet/Russian Second League
- Winner: 3 (1980, 1981, 2011–12)
- Lower Second League
- Winner: 1 (1937)
- Amateur Football League
- Winner: 1 (2015, Chernozemye Region)
- King's Cup (Thailand)
- Winner: 1 (1995)
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Traktorostroitel Stalingrad (1929)
- Dzerzhinets-STZ Stalingrad (1936)
- Traktor Stalingrad (1937)
- Torpedo Stalingrad (1948)
- Traktor Stalingrad (1958)
- Traktor Volgograd (1961)
- Stal Volgograd (1970)
- Barrikady Volgograd (1972)
- Rotor Volgograd (1975)
- Rotor Volgograd (2004) (chose not to participate)
- Rotor-2 Volgograd (2001)
- Rotor Volgograd (2005)
- Rotor Volgograd (2009) (merged into FC Volgograd)
- Volgograd (2008)
- Rotor Volgograd (2010)
Had international caps for their respective countries. Players whose name is listed in bold represented their countries while playing for Rotor.
- Sport-Express: Rotor to take vacant place in FNL
- Chamber of Control and Accounts of Volgograd region
- Футбольный клуб «Ротор» снялся с первенства Второго дивизиона (in Russian). FC Rotor Volgograd. 8 April 2015.
- "Новости". ffvrn.ru. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
- "Rotor-Volgograd Players' First Visit to Arena "Pobeda" Construction Site". www.stroytransgaz.ru. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
- «Ротор-Волгоград» вышел в ФНЛ (in Russian). Russian National Football League. 28 May 2017.
- "Клубы ФНЛ получили лицензии" (in Russian). Russian National Football League. 30 May 2018.
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