MOSCOW: Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has regained the leadership of the Russian Football Union for the next year by a unanimous vote writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The RFU had been without a president since May after Nikolai Tolstykh was sacked from the role in a move prompted by a financial crisis described as “the edge of bankruptcy” by Mutko.

At the time of Tolstykh’s sacking, the RFU was said to have accumulated debts of approximately $22.9m, partly through the disastrous hiring of Fabio Capello as national coach.

Mutko was not the only original candidate to take over; Igor Lebedev, vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma, also eyed the job.

However Lebedev withdrew at the end of July leaving the way free for Mutko who is also a member of the executive committees of both FIFA and UEFA and president of the 2018 World Cup local organising committee.

Mutko had served previously as RFU president from 2005 until 2009. Then, t6o his irritation, he was forced to step down by a law created by former prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. That law has now been eased.

After his election he said: “I have been working as the sports minister for seven years already. However, given the situation that has occurred within our football, I decided to take up the challenge.

“The most important thing is to pay off the debts that the RFU owes and they are huge. I don’t want to dramatise the situation, but we are basically on the edge of going bankrupt.

“The first step I will take will be to make sure that football is going in the right direction. It is not very good when no one understands who and where all the decisions are being taken.”

Nikita Simonyan, former national team captain and interim president, welcomed Mutko’s return.

He said: “Mutko is the best candidate, given his experience. He has been the president of Zenit, then was in charge of the Premier League and the RFU. No one will be able to organize the 2018 World Cup like he will be able to.”

The RFU president will hold office for one year and new elections will be held in 2016 to elect a head for a four-year term.

** Russia’s premier league has formally approved a new three-season deal with pay-television broadcaster NTV Plus, which will be worth R1.98bn (€27.4m/$30.3m) for the ongoing 2015-16 season.

The deal covers the 2015-16 to 2017-18 seasons of the top division of Russian football and was initially announced in July. The 2015-16 campaign kicked off on July 17 without a formal contract in place, but with NTV Plus continuing to broadcast games.

Following a meeting of clubs on Tuesday, the Premier League said the deal has now been officially signed off with an official presentation set for the “near future”.

NTV Plus general director Alexander Vronsky told Russian news agency Tass that the contract will be worth R1.98bn for 2015-16.

It was reported in July that NTV Plus originally offered R2.2bn per season for the rights before later revising this offer to R1.9bn per season.