"Club" system in sports

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
Russia (and plenty other ex-Soviet countries too) has so-called "Clubs" in their organised sports infrastructure.

A "Club" over there, is essentially a brand, THE brand, under which several different teams might compete in various sports.

"Dynamo Moscow", for example, includes teams in hockey, soccer, volleyball, and basketball

Plus women's teams in many of those sports also

Plenty of the "Clubs" are controlled by factions of the Russian government.

The aforementioned Dynamo, for instance, is associated (and has been since the Soviet era) with the Internal Affairs Ministry (police); here, Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev speaking at a meeting of the Dynamo Presidium

This, on one side, assures those sports teams reliable funding and support, aside from all their private sponsors; and, on the other, the revenue they themselves also generate helps fund other, less popular or less well known, yet still important sports under the Club umbrella.

In the case of Dynamo, the Club network has helped discover numerous athletically gifted individuals among regular police personnel in Russia, and in cases of the best - send them to the Olympics; such as Rio 2016 medallists (pictured with Minister Kolokoltsev), at left, Sergeant Halmurzaev of Nazran, Ingushetia, Northern Caucasus (Gold, Judo,) and at right, Sergeant Evgeny Rylov of Orenburg, Southern Siberia (Bronze, Swimming)

Private interests CAN at least partially own a team within a Club, for instance, VTB, one of Russia's biggest banks, owns 70% of the soccer Dynamo, hence the bank's acronym on their jersey up there.

But, all in all, it's kind of like owning a McDonalds franchise (on a much bigger financial scale, of course lol), you are greatly restricted in what you can do with your team. Can't change its logo (you don't own the brand, the Club, again, does); or the team colours; can't relocate the team (it's is mandated, by long established convention, that a Club's principal teams all be based in the same city; Dynamo, for instance, HAS other satellite teams in other Russian cities; but Dynamo Moscow, in which ever sport, will always remain, specifically, Dynamo Moscow, period); even, I believe, the Club Presidium may have influence on the hiring of coaching staff and acquiring and trading of players (though, in most cases, they give the individual team owners certain autonomy in this, most of the time lol)

It's a very weird system. But, it works, over there, mostly. There are plenty of independent teams too, in Russia, though the most popular ones, in hockey and soccer, in the two capital cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg), are in clubs.

I wonder if other countries (outside ex-USSR, I mean) have such or similar systems in their sports...