The position of the Head of the football Premier League is very likely to be occupied by the Swiss national Thomas Grimm. He has a very good chance of winning, at least because he is the only one running for it.
The election is to be held on Good Friday, 6 April. The election is supposed to produce a person that would be in charge of the Ukrainian football championship for the next four years.
That being said, there is no particular suspense surrounding the upcoming election. There is a 99.9% chance that the UPL is going to be governed by the Swiss national Thomas Grimm. Let us now talk a little about Thomas Grimm.
Briefly on the election itself
The deadline for submission of application was 27 March. Grimm turned out to be the only candidate for the vacancy. The current head of the UPL Volodymyr Heninson is not running.
The UPL head is elected for a term of 4 years by a selection panel consisting of the league’s members. Thomas Grimm was nominated for the position of the UPL head by the Olexandriya football club.
What do we know about Thomas Grimm?
Thomas Grimm was born on 3 April 1959 in Lüscherz (BE). He studied law at the Bern University between 1981 and 1987. Grimm served as the UEFA’s head of the legal section, before taking up a position of a lawyer at CWL Telesport and Marketing AG (which later became known as Infront).
According to Football24, the Swiss, among other things, was engaged in the selling of the television rights of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships in Russia 2000 and FIFA World Cup 2002.
Between September 2002 and December 2005, Grimm was employed by the FIFA. Particularly, he served as the secretary of the Commission in charge of the Revision of the FIFA-Statutes. Later, Thomas Grimm worked inside the Swiss football. As such, he was the President of the Young Boys football club. In 2009, Thomas Grimm was elected to serve as the President of the Swiss Football League, but lost re-election two years later. According to local media outlets, he lost because of a conflict with the Sion football club. Since 2010, Grimm was involved in various projects including those of the FIFA and the UEFA. Also, Thomas participated in the Euro-2012, while at the 2016 Euro he served as a legal advisor to the Ukrainian national football team. His latest position was an advisor on the organization of the Champions League final in Kyiv.
What do people say about Thomas Grimm?
In his column on MatchDay, the editor-in-chief of the Football magazine Artem Frankov writes:
“He is going to have to prove the brilliant football results he has created and achieved in Switzerland and other lucky places outside of Ukraine. When it comes to whose protégé he is, herr Grimm may waste his time trying to remain secretive – it is clear that the president of the Football Federation of Ukraine Andriy Pavelko invited him.
He also voiced his opinion on the procedure of Grimm’s nomination:
“Judging by the Olexandriya’s anxiety, it seems like they were instructed about the potential gains that would compensate the increased spending on the UPL. Just as always, the Olexandriya management was suddenly struck by the idea to invite Thomas Grimm and nominate him for the position of the UPL head.”
Ex-president of the PFL Miletiy Balchos:
“I am not sure that the appointment of the Swiss Grimm is going to change anything for the better. My prediction is that he, just like Baranka, is going to do virtually nothing, while pronouncing ambitious and promising statements”.
According to the CEO of the Olexandriya football club Dmytro Kytayev, Grimm is very knowledgeable about the Ukrainian football and has many interesting ideas regarding its future development.
“Grimm came to Oleksandriya on a working visit, we examined the infrastructure and talked for a good two or three hours. It’s not agitation or an election campaign, just communication. Judging by our conversation, I liked his ideas, but the most important is that we need to cooperate with the football federation and avoid conflicts and to ensure legislative support”, - he said live on Football1’s air.
What does Thomas Grimm say?
On the number of teams in the UPL:
“Keeping in mind the sheer geographical size of your country, the Premier League should consist of at least 12 professional teams”, - Grimm said in an interview with Tribuna.com.
“The number of teams could be higher, even 16. However, the current economic situation in the country does not allow the presence of so many sustainable professional clubs. As of right now, as far as I understand, it is rather difficult to go back to the 16-team tournament. You see for yourself that even some big cities no longer have teams”, - he stressed.
On the Ukrainian football:
“If you ask me how well I know the Ukrainian football, I will tell you I don’t know it particularly well yet. I just know names, I don’t know anybody personally. If I felt I would not make it and would just be wasting my own and your time – I would not run for the office. I have a vision of how the league should operate, what problems exist. I realize that each of the teams’ presidents has a temper. However, everyone should contribute in the overall football development”.
On his candidacy:
“I am not scared of being an outsider, because I will have a Ukrainian deputy, who is going to be reviewing all of my ideas and conclude whether or not it would work in Ukraine, taking into account your mentality. But the most important thing is to make use of my extensive international experience that will prove successful in Ukraine.
On his main task:
“The key solution to the Ukrainian club football is the issue of television rights. If one considers the examples of other leagues, all of them are united into a pool. This increases the marketing component, which means higher revenues for clubs. We also need to work on fan attendance, to improve stadium conditions”.
On making money:
"In order to make money, clubs need to figure out how to market themselves. We are going to try teaching them that, while the earnings from television rights will be the Premier League’s responsibility. For example, in Switzerland, the league leaves 80% of its profits for clubs all the way down to the third division. If you happen to be a licensed coach of a U-15 team, your salary, or at least most of it, will come from us. This is called a level system, which we are going to consider for introduction here too. The underlying principle is for clubs to invest the money earned by the league in infrastructure and player development”.