Russia's league system will change from a calendar year campaign in time for the 2012/13 season.
The Russian Football Union (RFS) decided on Monday to make a gradual transition to the autumn-to-spring model favoured in Europe. The first steps will be taken in 2011 when, after the 16 Premier-Liga teams have played each other twice over the course of the year, they will be split into two groups of eight.
Those two groups will be contested in spring 2012, with the top eight clubs playing for the title and European places. The other sides will vie to avoid relegation: the bottom two will go down while the next two play off against the sides third and fourth in the first division, with the two losers being demoted (or denied promotion). For the 2012/13 season, the first division will be reduced to 18 teams from 20, with the top flight remaining at 16.
RFS president Sergei Fursenko said: "The main aim of this transition is to guide Russian football to a higher level, through extending the dates of the competition, developing infrastructure and synchronising our competitions with European ones. This will not only give an enormous boost to the modernisation of football facilities, but will also help Russia's development in a wider sense."
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