The Ukrainian Premier League (Ukrainian: “Прем’єр-ліга”) is the highest division of Ukrainian annual football championship. As the Vyshcha Liha (Supreme League) it was formed in 1991 upon discontinuation of the Soviet championship and included the Ukrainian-based clubs that competed in the Soviet competitions. In 1996 along with all the professional football leagues of Ukraine, the Supreme League became a member of the Professional Football League of Ukraine.
In 2008 it was reformed into a more autonomous entity of both the Professional League and the Football Federation of Ukraine, officially changing its name to the current one. Its rank was 8th highest in Europe as rated by UEFA as of 2014.
Among Ukrainian fans the most popular Ukrainian clubs are Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk. Far behind those two are trailing Metalist Kharkiv, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Karpaty Lviv and Chornomorets Odesa.
The season 2014–15 is the league’s seventh after the break-away from the Professional Football League (PFL) in 2008 and 24th season from the break-up of the Soviet Top League. Until 2007 the league was subsidized by the government and from an economic point of view was not a profitable organization. To solve that issue, the League have tried to attract a few sponsors since the 2007 season: Soyuz-Viktan (2007) and Biolaa (2008). On 15 April 2008 the new Premier-League was formed. Since its formation the title sponsor of the League became the national network of the construction supermarkets EpiCentre K. The new sports organization is a completely independent entity and consists of 14 football club organizations under the guidance of the Football Federation of Ukraine.
With the new reorganization the format of the League was preserved, while the changes that were made were exclusively administrative. The teams that reach the top of the competition table at the end of each season as always gain the chance to represent Ukraine internationally in several prestigious tournaments (continental club tournaments). Also at the end of the season, the bottom two clubs are relegated to the First League (supervised by the Professional Football League) and replaced by the two top clubs from that league. All the participants of the Premier League enter the National Cup competition at the round of 32 (1/16th of the final) stage. Also the winner of the League at the beginning of every next season plays against the winner of the National Cup for the Ukrainian Super Cup.
As of 2015, Dynamo Kyiv is the reigning Ukrainian Premier League champion. To summarise, Tavriya Simferopol won the first championship, while all the subsequent titles have gone to either Dynamo Kyiv or Shakhtar Donetsk. Only 3 teams, Dynamo Kyiv, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk have participated in all 24 Ukrainian Vyshcha Liha competitions.
The league cooperates with the Professional Football League of Ukraine which governs the lower divisions. The PFL is an association that represents 38 Ukrainian professional football clubs, which are represented by 40 teams (only 2 clubs now have more than one team which plays in different divisions). The professional league was organized in 1996 and until 2008 was responsible for the competitions in the Top division as well. Before that, Vyshcha Liha was governed solely and directly by the Football Federation of Ukraine.
The emblem depicts a football that is wrapped around by the blue-yellow stripe (the national colors of Ukraine) on the blue background. Across the top and around the ball there are 16 stars that represent the league’s participants (although in 2014 the league was shortened up to 14 teams th emblem was not changed). On the bottom the script says “Premier-League – Union of Professional Football Clubs of Ukraine”.
Season regulations is one of the two most important documents (other being the competition calendar) that are adopted by the Premier League prior to each season.
Premier League directly organizes and conducts competitions among member clubs. Competitions are conducted on principle of “Fair play” and according to competitions calendar which is approved by the Premier League General Assembly and the FFU Executive Committee 30 days before start of competitions. Until 2019 all advertisement, commercial rights and rights on TV and radio broadcasting of games of championship and cup belong to the club that hosts them (except for the Ukrainian Cup final, the Super Cup of Ukraine, and the “Gold game”). All advertisement, commercial rights and rights on TV and radio broadcasting of the Ukrainian Cup final belong to the Football Federation of Ukraine, while the game of Super Cup and the “Gold game” – to the Premier League.
There are 14 club members of the league. All participants get approved by the Premier League General Assembly. Each club fields each team for senior competitions, and competitions for under 21 and under 19 teams (three teams). A club is required to have a stadium (registered with FFU) and an education and training facility (or center). A club also obligated to finance its own youth sports institution and a complex scientific-methodical group as well as to own and finance number of youth teams. A Premier League club needs to ensure participation of at least four youth teams (ages groups between 14 and 17) in the Youth Football League of Ukraine. A club cannot field more than one team for a certain competition.
All club’s staff members (coaches, physicians, massage specialists) have to be contracted and be UEFA licensed. All coaches should have A-diploma, while head coaches – PRO-diploma. Football players are listed in “A” and “B” rosters. “A” roster contains no more than 25 players, while “B” roster has unlimited number of players no older than 21 who have professional contracts or agreements for sports training. The 25-players “A” roster includes the number of slots allotted for players developed by the club.
During breaks in competitions in summer and winter there are two periods for registering players.
A championship is conducted after the round robin system in two cycles “fall-spring” with one game at home and another at opponent’s field with each participant. A competition calendar is formed after a draw that is conducted based on the Premier League club rankings. The calendar of the second cycle repeats the first, while hosting teams are switched. There should be no less than two calendar days between official games of a club. All games take place between 12:00 and 22:00 local time. Any game postponement is allowed only in emergencies and on decision of the Premier League Administration (Dyrektsiya). Game forfeitures are controlled by technical win/loss nominations and fines, followed by additional sanctions of the FFU Control-Disciplinary Committee, and possible elimination from the league.