Soccer-Russia's Saturn seek merger with Khimki to save costs

MOSCOW Tue Dec 2, 2008 5:44pm GMT

MOSCOW Dec 2 (Reuters) - FC Saturn Ramenskoye intend to merge with fellow Russian premier league club FK Khimki next year to save costs, Saturn said on Tuesday.

"Because of a tough economic situation and to maintain high quality of football tradition in the (Moscow) region there is a need for a merger of the two teams," the club said on its official website www.saturn-fc.ru.

The Russian FA have yet to approve the merger but if it goes through KamAZ Naberezhnye Chelny from the Volga region, who finished third in the second division, should be promoted into the top flight next season to fill the vacancy.

The two Moscow region clubs, largely financed by the regional government, have struggled this season.

Khimki sacked coach Sergei Yuran last week after just avoiding relegation by finishing in 14th place while Saturn ended up 11th after coming in fifth a year ago.

"We all must understand the necessity of this decision which would only help football in the Moscow region," said Saturn general manager Boris Zhiganov. "It will take some time before the merger is complete but the process has already started."

The 2009 Russian premier league season starts on March 13.

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; editing by Alan Baldwin)