A Guide to Betting on the Belarusian Premier League

By Dan Roberts in Soccer
| April 2, 2020 6:33 am PDT
Belarusian Premier League

With the vast majority of sports across the world being shut down, the few leagues and tournaments that have carried on regardless have enjoyed a huge surge in viewership and interest.

The Belarusian Premier League is the only soccer league in Europe still running, and the 30th season of the competition has just kicked off. Just a few months ago, there would not have been many outside the country that could have named more than two or three clubs in the league, but it has recently signed a number of new television deals as desperate fans seek out their soccer fix.

This Belarusian Premier League betting guide helps those new to the league get started, so you can know your Dinamo Brests from your Dinamo Minsks and possibly find a favorite new team to support in the process.

Belarusian Premier League History

After gaining independence from the USSR in 1991, Belarus wasted no time at all in setting up its own soccer league again, and the first season kicked off just a year later. Dinamo Minsk was the only club from the old Soviet top flight at the time and naturally dominated the early years.

The number of clubs in the league has varied over the past 30 years, as well as the time of year that the games are played. But since 1996, it has been a summer league and is currently contested by 16 teams from all over the country.

Dinamo Minsk may have won the first five league titles, but after that, there was a period of relative parity as seven different clubs won the championship in just ten years, including BATE Borisov, Belshina Bobruisk, and Shakhtyor Soligorsk.

But in 2005, BATE Borisov began its dominance of the Belarusian Premier League that saw it win 13 titles in a row. BATE (or Borisov Automobile and Tractor Electronics) was originally formed in 1973 but re-emerged in 1996 as a new club in a relatively new league. Thanks to its frequent qualification for the Champions and Europa League, more money came in, and BATE became by far the most successful club in the country, able to attract the best players and continue its grip on the league.

But last year, a new side finally won the title. Dinamo Brest has been ever-present in the Belarusian Premier League but had never finished higher than third since the formation of the new competition in 1992. It lost just one game, to Dinamo Minsk, in 2019 and finished five points clear of BATE at the top.

Belarusian Premier League Format

Although the league has changed over the years, the format is now just about set in stone. There are 16 teams in the top flight that play each other twice, home and away, over the course of a season. There are no playoffs, and the league winner qualifies for the first qualifying round of the Champions League. The clubs in second and third make it to the first qualifying round of the Europa League.

The bottom two sides are relegated to the Belarusian First League, the second tier in the country, and the 14th placed club is forced to contest a two-legged playoff with the third-placed team in the First League for the right to play in the top flight the next year.

Top Teams

BATE Borisov is the most successful club in the country, winning the Belarusian Premier League on 15 occasions, including that 13-year unbeaten run of titles. With so much money in the Champions League these days, that dominance is unsurprising, but last year’s changing of the guard makes this season even more interesting.

Dinamo Minsk is the most established club in the country, being a powerhouse in the old days of the Soviet Union. But its glory days are fading fast. The last of its seven league titles came in 2004, and although it regularly qualifies for the Europa League, it hasn’t really troubled BATE in recent times.

The new kid on the block is Dynamo Brest, who won its first-ever league title last year. In 2017, the club enjoyed the highest average attendance in the entire league, and the potential windfall from Champions League participation could give it even more chance to provide real competition to BATE in the years ahead.

Contenders

Although there is a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots in Belarus, the opening games of the new season have thrown up some surprising results. It looks as though there is a definite “chasing pack” now that might be able to influence where the title ends up, if not actually win the championship themselves.

Some of the other Minsk clubs could be included at this level, and even Energetik-BGU, who only came up to the top division the year before last, should be able to compete. Other clubs that should be in the race for the Europa League spots are Isloch, Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino, FC Minsk, Slavia Mozyr, Vitebsk, and Shakhtyor Soligorsk.

Outsiders and Weaker Clubs

The rest of the league is made up of much smaller teams with stadiums that can only accommodate 1,000 to 4,000 fans at most. Although Energetik-BGU is one of the smaller clubs in the league, it has a team that has been steadily improving and tends to score more goals than some of the others, and that is why it is not included here.

Some of these clubs are older than others, but the rest of the league is made up of Belshina Bobruisk, Gorodeya, Neman, Rukh Brest, Slutsk, and Smolevichi. Rukh is the club that was promoted thanks to the playoffs at the end of last season, suggesting that the city near the Polish border might be about to enjoy a new period of soccer success in the country.

Belshina Bobruisk and Smolevichi are the other two clubs that came up form the Belarusian First League, so they could both struggle as the season goes on.

Future of the Belarusian Premier League

With unprecedented interest in the Belarusian Premier League due to the suspension of just about every other league in the world, there is bound to be more and more soccer fans taking an interest in the current campaign.

Online bookmakers have already capitalized on the newfound popularity, offering betting markets on all games that are being streamed on a number of channels worldwide.

If this results in a better standard of soccer being played in the country, then that could be a boost for the Belarus national team as well.

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