Soviet First League

Last updated
Soviet First League in football
after 52 [1] seasons
Country Soviet Union
Level on pyramid2
Promotion to Soviet Top League
Relegation to Soviet Second League
Last champions FC Rotor Volgograd (1)
Most championships FC Krylya Sovetov Samara (5)

The Soviet First League in football (Russian : Первая лига СССР по футболу) was the second highest division of Soviet football, [1] below the Soviet Top League.


While the second tier competitions in football among "teams of masters" (an official term for the Soviet professional clubs) existed since 1936, [1] the First League has been officially formed in 1971 out of the Class A First Group. [1] It followed the transitional 1970 season when the Class A was expanded to three groups (Vysshaya Gruppa, Pervaya Gruppa, Vtoraya Gruppa) and discontinuation of the Class B competitions for the 1971 season.

The league existed until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.


The second tier competitions and predecessors of the First League has been known as Group B, Group 2, Class B, and Class A, group 2. The number of teams playing at this level fluctuated significantly during the history of Soviet football. In 1940s-1970s the league frequently consisted of several groups. The group winners qualified for the final tournament.

The second tier competitions among "teams of masters" existed since 1936 as part of four groups of eight All-Union competitions where each group represented a tier with Group A representing top tier, Group B representing second tier, Group V representing third tier and so on. Before the World War II the season competitions were inconsistent in every group.

Since after the World War II there existed only top two tiers for football competitions among "teams of masters". The top tier was called Pervaya Gruppa (First Group) and the second tier Vtoraya Gruppa (Second Group). In 1950 those tiers were renamed with the second tier competitions being renamed into the Class B (the top tier became the Class A).

In 1960 Class B competitions were transformed into regional competitions with separate competitions for Russia, Ukraine, and other republics. More transformations took place in 1963 when the second tier competitions were included in the Class A competitions, while the Class B competitions were shifted to the third tier for 1964 season, thus reviving the third level competitions. Following the 1963 reform, the second tier competitions became the Vtoraya Gruppa Classa A (Class A second group) and the top tier being renamed as the Pervaya Gruppa Classa A (Class A first group). The Vtoraya Gruppa did not have multi groups competition with only one group round robin tournament.

After the 1970-1971 reforms there was established the Soviet First League with a single group competition. The league became more consisted with number of teams in league and relegation/promotion rules.

One unusual feature of the league was one that have taken place before 1989. The Soviet Football Union tried to eliminate the growing amount of drawn games, thus, intensify the competition. The participated clubs were receiving a point for each drawn game, but the amount of all their drawn games could not exceed a third of all their games played. After that they received no points for any further draws that they earned. In 1987, for example, FC Fakel Voronezh was relegated by being short of a point having received no points for their two extra drawn games.

Laureates of the Soviet second tier competitions

The teams that either won its group or participated in play-offs are included as well. All seasons are double-round robin unless otherwise indicated in "Notes".

Gruppa B (Group B)

1936 (spring) Dinamo Tiflis ZIS Moscow Stalinets Leningrad
1936 (autumn) Serp i Molot Moscow Temp Baku Stalinets Moscow
1937 Spartak Leningrad FC Dynamo Rostov/Don Temp Baku
1938not held, part of the Super League
1939 Krylya Sovetov Moscow Lokomotivi Tbilisi FC Dynamo Rostov/Don single round robin
1940 Krasnaya Zarya Leningrad FC Spartak Leningrad Stroitel Yuga Baku
1941-44no competition due to World War II

Vtoraya Gruppa (Second Group)

1945 Krylya Sovetov Kuybyshev VVS Moscow FC Moscow Military District
1946South VVS Moscow DO Tbilisi FC Lokomotiv Kharkov
East FC Pischevik Moscow FC Torpedo Gorky FC MVO Moscow
FinalVVS MoscowPischevik Moscow
1947Central FC Lokomotiv Moscow FC MVO Moscow FC Dynamo Riga
Russia I FC Torpedo Gorky FC Dynamo Saratov FC Zenit Izhevsk
Russia II FC Dzerzhinets Chelyabinsk ODO Novosibirsk FC Krylia Sovetov Molotov
Ukraine FC Lokomotyv Kharkiv FC Shakhtar Donetsk FC Kharchovyk Odessa
Caucasus ODO Tbilisi FC Dynamo Yerevan FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi
Middle Asia FC Dynamo Stalinabad FC Dynamo Alma-Ata FC Dynamo Tashkent
Final Lokomotiv Moscow Torpedo Gorkiy Lokomotyv Kharkiv
1948Central FC Metallurg Moscow FC Dynamo Riga FC MVO Moscow
Russia I FC Dynamo Kazan FC Torpedo Gorky FC Krasnoye Znamia Ivanovo
Russia II FC Dzerzhinets Chelyabinsk ODO Novosibirsk ODO Sverdlovsk
Ukraine FC Lokomotyv Kharkiv FC Stal Dnipropetrovsk ODO Kyiv
South FC Dynamo Yerevan ODO Tbilisi FC Spartaki Tbilisi
Middle Asia ODO Tashkent FC Dynamo Alma-Ata FC Lokomotiv Ashkhabat
Final Lokomotyv Kharkiv Metallurg Moscow Dynamo Yerevan
1949Central FC Spartaki Tbilisi FC Dynamo Kutaisi Spartakas Vilnius
Russia I FC Dynamo Rostov-on-Don FC VMS Moscow FC Dynamo Krasnodar
Russia II DO Sverdlovsk DO Novosibirsk FC Dzerzhinets Chelyabinsk
Russia III FC Sudostroitel Leningrad DO Leningrad FC Metallurg Moscow
Russia IV FC Kalinin Kaliningrad FC Stroitel Dulevo FC Krasnoe Znamya Orekhovo-Zuyevo
Ukraine FC Kharchovyk Odessa FC Spartak Lviv ODO Kyiv
Final Spartak Tbilisi Kalinin Kaliningrad Kharchovyk Odessa

Class B

1950 VMS Moscow Torpedo Gorkiy Spartakas Vilnius
1951 Kalinin Dinamo Minsk Lokomotiv Moscow
1952Kharkiv Spartakas Vilnius FC Lokomotyv Kharkiv FC VMS Moscow
Ivanovo DO Tbilisi FC Krasnoe Znamya Ivanovo FC Dinamo Alma-Ata
Baku Neftçi PFK FC Burevestnik Chișinău FC Torpedo Gorky
Final Lokomotyv Kharkiv Spartakas Vilnius DO Tbilisi
1953Zone 1 FC Spartaki Tbilisi FC Dynamo Yerevan FC Torpedo Rostov-on-Don
Zone 2 FC Znamya Ivanovo FC Dinamo Minsk FC Metalurh Odessa
Zone 3 FC Shakhtar Stalino FC Torpedo Gorky FC Metalurh Zaporizhia
Final Dinamo Minsk Torpedo Gorkiy Shakhtar Stalino
1954Zone 1 FC Spartak Yerevan Neftçi PFK ODO Tbilisi
Zone 2 FC Zenit Moscow Spartakas Vilnius FC Khimik Moscow
Zone 3 FC Shakhtar Stalino FC Torpedo Rostov-on-Don FC Metalurh Zaporizhia
Final Shakhtar Stalino Spartakas Vilnius Neftchi Baku
1955Zone 1 Burevestnik Chisinau Spartak Kalinin ODO Kiev
Zone 2 ODO Sverdlovsk Spartak Yerevan ODO Tbilisi
1956Zone 1 Spartak Minsk Torpedo Taganrog Metalurh Zaporizhia
Zone 2 Krylya Sovetov Kuybyshev ODO Tbilisi Spartak Yerevan
1957Zone 1 FC Avangard Leningrad FC Torpedo Taganrog FC Avanhard Kharkiv
Zone 2 FC Spartak Stanislav SKVO Lviv FC Trudovyie Rezervy Leningrad
Zone 3 SKVO Tbilisi FC Spartak Yerevan Neftçi PFK
Far East SKVO Khabarovsk FC Dynamo Vladivostok FC Burevestnik Tomsk
Final Avangard Leningrad Spartak Stanislav SKVO Tbilisi
1958Zone 1 SKVO Odessa FC Trudovyie Rezervy Leningrad FC Avanhard Mykolaiv
Zone 2 SKCF Sevastopol FC Metalurh Zaporizhia FC Rostselmash Rostov-on-Don
Zone 3 SKVO Lviv Spartak Minsk FC Lokomotyv Vinnytsia
Zone 4 SKVO Rostov-on-Don FC Spartak Yerevan FC Kuban Krasnodar
Zone 5 SKVO Sverdlovsk FC Kairat Alma-Ata FC Zvezda Perm
Zone 6 SKVO Khabarovsk FC Tomich Tomsk FC Urozhai Barnaul
Final SKVO Rostov-na-Donu SKVO Sverdlovsk SKCF Sevastopol
1959Zone 1 FC Trud Voronezh FC Dynamo Kirov FC Avanhard Mykolaiv
Zone 2 FC Trudovyie Rezervy Leningrad FC Trud Glukhovo FC Avanhard Kharkiv
Zone 3 FC Spartak Yerevan FC Terek Grozny FC Torpedo Taganrog
Zone 4 FC Lokomotyv Vinnytsia FC Baltika Kaliningrad SKVO Odessa
Zone 5 FC Admiralteyets Leningrad FC Volga Kalinin FC Zenit Izhevsk
Zone 6 FC Pamir Leninabad FC Mashinostroitel Sverdlovsk FC Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Zone 7 SKVO Sverdlovsk FC Lokomotiv Krasnoyarsk SKVO Khabarovsk
Russia Final Admiralteyets Leningrad Trudovyie Reservy Leningrad [2] Trud Voronezh
1960Russia I FC Trud Voronezh FC Spartak Leningrad FC Shakhter Stalinogorsk
Russia II FC Volga Kalinin FC Shinnik Yaroslavl FC Dynamo Kirov
Russia III FC Terek Grozny FC Torpedo Taganrog FC Spartak Krasnodar
Russia IV FC Metallurg Nizhny Tagil FC Zvezda Perm FC Lokomotiv Chelyabinsk
Russia V FC Irtysh Omsk SKA Khabarovsk FC Sibelektromotor Tomsk
Russia Final Trud Voronezh FC Irtysh Omsk Volga Kalinin
Ukraine I Sudnobudivnyk Mykolaiv FC Lokomotyv Vinnytsia FC Arsenal Kyiv
Ukraine II FC Metalurh Zaporizhia SKA Odessa FC Trudovi Rezervy Luhansk
Ukraine Final Metalurh Zaporizhzhya Sudobudivnyk Mykolaiv
Republics I FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi FC Urozhai Minsk FC Shirak Leninakan
Republics II FC Torpedo Kutaisi FC Pamir Leninabad FC Progress Baku
Republics Final Torpedo Kutaisi Lokomotivi Tbilisi
1961Russia I FC Volga Kalinin FC Metallurg Cherepovets FC Dynamo Leningrad
Russia II FC Dynamo Kirov FC Baltika Kaliningrad FC Iskra Kazan
Russia III FC Krylia Sovietov Kuibyshev FC Sokol Saratov FC Traktor Stalingrad
Russia IV FC Terek Grozny FC Rostselmash Rostov-on-Don FC Torpedo Taganrog
Russia V FC Lokomotiv Chelyabinsk FC Uralmash Sverdlovsk FC Stroitel Ufa
Russia VI SKA Khabarovsk SKA Novosibirsk FC Luch Vladivostok
Russia Final Krylya Sovetov Kuybyshev Terek Grozny Dynamo Kirov
Ukraine I FC Chornomorets Odessa FC Lokomotyv Vinnytsia FC Zirka Kirovohrad
Ukraine II SKA Odessa FC Trudovi Rezervy Luhansk FC Avanhard Zhovti Vody
Ukraine Final Chornomorets Odessa SCA Odessa Lokomotyv Vinnytsia
Republics I FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi FC Shirak Leninakan Lokomotiv Gomel
Republics II FC Torpedo Kutaisi FC Shakhter Karaganda FC Metallurg Rustavi
1962Russia I FC Shinnik Yaroslavl FC Spartak Leningrad FC Tekstilshchik Ivanovo
Russia II FC Trud Voronezh FC Trudovyie Rezervy Kursk FC Serpukhov
Russia III FC Spartak Krasnodar FC Traktor Volgograd FC Rostselmash Rostov-on-Don
Russia IV FC Uralmash Sverdlovsk FC Lokomotiv Chelyabinsk FC Iskra Kazan
Russia V SKA Novosibirsk SKA Khabarovsk FC Luch Vladivostok
Russia Final Spartak Krasnodar Trud Voronezh Uralmash Sverdlovsk
Ukraine I FC Chornomorets Odessa FC Polissya Zhytomyr FC Lokomotyv Donetsk
Ukraine II SKA Odessa FC Metalurh Zaporizhia SKA Kyiv
Ukraine III FC Trudovi Rezervy Luhansk Avanhard Simferopol FC Lokomotyv Vinnytsia
Ukraine Final Trudovye Rezervy Lugansk Chornomorets Odessa Avanhard Simferopol
Republics I Lokomotiv Gomel FC Shirak Leninakan FC Nairi Yerevan
Republics II FC Shakhter Karaganda FC Alga Frunze FC Metallurg Chimkent
Republics Final Shakhtyor Karaganda Lokomotiv Gomel

Vtoraya Gruppa Klassa A (Second Group of the Class A)

1963 Shinnik Yaroslavl Torpedo Gorkiy Trud Voronezh
1964Subgroup 1 FC Avanhard Kharkiv FC Chornomorets Odessa Žalgiris Vilnius
Subgroup 2 SCA Odessa FC Shakhter Karaganda Lokomotiv Moscow
Final Lokomotiv Moscow SCA Odessa Pakhtakor Tashkent
1965Subgroup 1 FC Tekstilshchik Ivanovo FC Uralmash Sverdlovsk FC Avanhard Kharkiv
Subgroup 2 FC Shinnik Yaroslavl FC Zorya Luhansk Žalgiris Vilnius
Final Ararat Yerevan Kairat Alma-Aty Avanhard Kharkiv
1966Subgroup 1 Žalgiris Vilnius FC Tekstilshchik Ivanovo FC Kuban Krasnodar
Subgroup 2 FC Zorya Luhansk SKA Kyiv SKA Lviv
Subgroup 3 FC Politodel FC Shakhter Karaganda FC Stroitel Ufa
Final Zorya Luhansk Žalgiris Vilnius Politotdel Tashkent
1967Subgroup 1 FC Dinamo Kirovabad FK Daugava Riga FC Kuban Krasnodar
Subgroup 2 SKA Kyiv FC Metalurh Zaporizhia SKA Lviv
Subgroup 3 FC Shakhter Karaganda FC Uralmash Sverdlovsk FC Alga Frunze
Final Dynamo Kirovabad Shakhtar Karaganda SKA Kyiv
1968Subgroup 1 FC Karpaty Lviv SKA Kyiv SKA Odessa
Subgroup 2 Sudnobudivnyk Mykolaiv FC Metalist Kharkiv FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Subgroup 3 FC Uralmash Sverdlovsk FC Spartak Ordzhonikidze FC Dynamo Makhachkala
Subgroup 4 FC Irtysh Omsk FC Kuzbass Kemerovo SKA Khabarovsk
Final Uralmash Sverdlovsk Karpaty Lviv Irtysh Omsk
1969Subgroup 1 FC Spartak Ordzhonikidze FC Dynamo Leningrad FC Kuban Krasnodar
Subgroup 2 SKA Khabarovsk FC Rubin Kazan FC Metallurg Kuibyshev
Subgroup 3 FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk SKA Kyiv FC Metalist Kharkiv
Subgroup 4 Žalgiris Vilnius FC Shakhter Karaganda FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi
Final Spartak Ordzhonikidze Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk SKA Khabarovsk

Pervaya Gruppa Klassa A (First Group of the Class A)

1970 Karpaty Lviv Kairat Alma-Aty Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk

Pervaya Liga (First League)

1971 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk Lokomotiv Moscow Chornomorets Odessa
1972 Pakhtakor Tashkent Shakhtar Donetsk FC Chornomorets Odessa
1973 Chornomorets Odessa Nistru Kishenev Lokomotiv Moscow
1974 Lokomotiv Moscow SKA Rostov/Donu Dinamo Minsk
1975 Krylya Sovetov Kuybyshev Dinamo Minsk Torpedo Kutaisi
1976 Kairat Almaty Neftchi Baku Pakhtakor Tashkent
1977 Spartak Moscow Pakhtakor Tashkent Tavriya Simferopol
1978 Krylya Sovetov Kuybyshev SKA Rostov/Donu Dinamo Minsk
1979 Karpaty Lviv Kuban Krasnodar Pamir Dushanbe
1980 Tavriya Simferopol Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk Metalist Kharkiv
1981 Metalist Kharkiv Torpedo Kutaisi Lokomotiv Moscow
1982 Žalgiris Vilnius Nistru Kishenev Kolos Nikopol
1983 Kairat Almaty SKA Rostov/Donu Fakel Voronezh
1984 Fakel Voronezh Torpedo Kutaisi SKA Karpaty Lviv
1985 West FC Daugava Riga SKA Karpaty Lviv FC Kotayk
East FC Shinnik Yaroslavl FC Pamir Dushanbe FC CSKA Moscow
Final Daugava Rīga CSKA Moscow SKA Karpaty Lviv
1986 CSKA Moscow Guria Lanchkhuti Daugava Rīga
1987 Chornomorets Odessa Lokomotiv Moscow Daugava Rīga
1988 Pamir Dushanbe Rotor Volgograd CSKA Moscow
1989 [3] CSKA Moscow Guria Lanchkhuti Kairat Alma-Aty
1990 [4] Spartak Vladikavkaz Pakhtakor Tashkent Metalurh Zaporizhia
1991 [5] Rotor Volgograd Tiligul Tiraspol Uralmash Yekaterinburg


ClubWinnersRunners-Up3rd PositionYears Won
FC Krylia Sovietov Kuibyshev 51945, 1956*, 1961*, 1975, 1978
FC Lokomotiv Moscow 3231947, 1964, 1974
FC Chernomorets Odessa 3131961*, 1973, 1987
FC Dinamo Minsk 2221953, 1956*
FC Torpedo Kutaisi 2211960*, 1961*
FC Kairat Alma-Ata 2211976, 1983
FC Fakel Voronezh 2131960*, 1984
FC Ararat Yerevan 2121959*, 1965
FC CSKA Moscow 2111986, 1989
FC Karpaty Lvov 211970, 1979
FC Lokomotiv Kharkov 211948, 1952
FC Admiralteyets Leningrad 21957, 1959*
FC Zarya Lugansk 21962*, 1966
FC Spartak Ordzhonikidze 21969, 1990
FC Zhalgiris Vilnius 1311982
SKA Rostov-on-Don 131958
FC Pakhtakor Tashkent 1221972
FC Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk 1211971
FC Zimbru Kishinev 121955*
FC Shakhter Donetsk 1111954
Serp i Molot Moscow 111936
FC Spartak Leningrad 111937
VVS Moscow 111946
SKA Sverdlovsk 111955*
FC Shakhter Karaganda 111962*
FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi 111961*
FC Kuban Krasnodar 111962*
FC Rotor Volgograd 111991
SC Tavriya Simferopol 121980
FC Metallist Kharkov 121981
FC Daugava Riga 121985
FC Metallurg Zaporozhie 121960*
FC Uralmash Sverdlovsk 121968
FC Lokomotiv Vinnitsa 111959*
FC Pamir Dushanbe 111988
Dynamo Tiflis 11936
FC Krylia Sovietov Moscow 11939
FC Krasnaya Zarya Leningrad 11940
FC Spartaki Tbilisi 11949
FC VMS Moscow 11950
FC MVO Moscow 11951
FC Shinnik Yaroslavl 11963
Kapaz PFK 11967
FC Pamir Leninabad 11959*
FC Spartak Moscow 11977

All-time table (top 20)

There were over 260 teams that played in the Soviet First League. [6]

Metallurg Zaporozhie Ukraine4019471990147056340650119141687209512
Shinnik Yaroslavl [lower-alpha 1] Russia331957199112764933534301567142618321
Pamir Dushanbe [lower-alpha 2] Tajikistan3619471987132946832553616211851172911
Kuban Krasnodar Russia3119491991111643628739313951287159511
Fakel Voronezh Russia261954199199342128029212319131543213
Nistru Kishinev Moldova3219471991115440632242613181416154012
Kuzbass Kemerovo Russia30194819901086402244440131113971450
Uralmash Sverdlovsk Russia3019451991100339023038313161266140012
Zhalgiris Vilnius Lithuania261947198292437426228811799221384131
Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk Ukraine2619391980873378223272122610551357121
Rotor Volgograd Russia271951199191837022232612511118133211
Tekstilschik Ivanovo Russia3019391983938347265326117911341306
Tavria Simferopol Ukraine231958199189034324030711621043126912
Daugava Riga Latvia261948198995932827136011041164125512
SKA Karpaty Lvov Ukraine231949198981334420226710589181234
Spartak Vladikavkaz Russia24196019909333402123811059117712322
Chernomorets Odessa Ukraine221940197370334316419611327711193313
Torpedo Kutaisi Georgia201949198974633816923910378181183221
Metallist Kharkov Ukraine2119471981772316211245913784115912
Zvezda Perm Russia2619451979840306221313104610611139

1Three points for a win. In 1973, a point for a draw was awarded only to a team that won the subsequent penalty shootout. In 1978–1988, the number of draws for which points were awarded was limited.

Soviet football championship among reserves

SeasonChampionRunner-Up3rd PositionTop Goalscorer
1971 Chernomorets Odessa (1) Metallurg Zaporozhye Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk
1974 SKA Rostov-na-Donu (1) Dinamo Minsk Krylya Sovetov Kuibyshev
1978 Dinamo Minsk (1) SKA Rostov-na-Donu Karpaty Lvov
1979 Zhalgiris Vilnius (1) Pamir Dushanbe Karpaty Lvov
1980 Kolos Nikopol (1) SKA Odessa Metallist Kharkov
1982 SKA-Karpaty Lvov (1) SKA Odessa Kolos Nikopol
1983 Iskra Smolensk (1) Lokomotiv Moscow SKA Rostov-na-Donu
Metallurg Zaporozhye (1) Kairat Alma-Ata SKA-Karpaty Lvov
1984 Iskra Smolensk (2) Zvezda Dzhizak Nistru Kishinev


  1. doesn't include the record of Torpedo Yaroslavl in 1947 Soviet First League
  2. including the record of Dinamo Stalinabad in 1947–1952

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Evgeni Kazakov. The Soviet First Football League (Первая лига СССР по футболу) . History of Soviet football championships. Volume 1 (1936–1969). Litres, 2019
  2. Trudovye Reservy were replacing Dynamo Leningrad for several season. Later Dynamo was reinstated in their place.
  3. After 1989 season teams from Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) and Georgia withdrew from the Soviet competitions. Only the two pro-Soviet, pro-Russian teams: Pardaugava (Riga) and Dinamo Sukhumi continued to participate.
  4. Four teams were promoted due to withdrawal of several teams prior to this season. The fourth team was Lokomotiv Moscow.
  5. Last season. Russian SFSR clubs form new Russian Top Division with compatriot clubs from Soviet Top League, and other SSR clubs do the same.

Further reading