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  • Justin Grimm

Ulaanbaatar City FC to Cease Operations

Image property of the club

According to a statement made on the team's official Facebook account on 31 May 2023, Ulaanbaatar City FC will cease operations of its senior club and no longer participate in the Mongolian Premier League, effective immediately.

The statements are not just idle threats as the club did not report for its Round 24 Premier League match against Deren FC on 4 June. Deren FC was awarded a 3-0 technical victory in the match. The club has also stated it will be a no-show for its handful of remaining scheduled matches.

As the reasons for this sudden and surprising decision, the club noted fraud, betting, and mismanagement and indifference by Mongolian Football Federation officials.

Club owner Dashnyam Ganzorig also accuses the MFF of "spitting on the club's contributions to Mongolian football". One of those contributions was the G-Mobile Arena which became fully operational in 2019. Despite becoming one of the few stadiums in Ulaanbaatar, Dashnyam claims that the MFF had not visited the arena a single time and has failed to support or advertise it. Because of this, very few, if any, of UB City's matches were ever played at the arena.

Perhaps this lack of support explains the final form of the venue. Originally touted as a fully-enclosed, European-style stadium when construction began in 2017, as of today the stadium remains without significant seating for spectators. However, high quality products from the Netherlands and Denmark were used in the construction of the playing surface.

The club also built the only indoor practice facility in the country, a pivotal piece of infrastructure because of Mongolia's long, bitterly cold winters.

Original concept design of the G-Mobile Arena

The stadium as of June 2023

The club has had a brief but exciting existence which has included ups and downs on and off the field, and a willingness to spend money.

The club was formed on 19 March 2016 when it bought the Premier League license of Khangarid City FC. Since then UB City has earned second and third place league finishes with its greatest success coming in 2019 when it won the league. Because of that championship, the club was set to participate in its first AFC Cup in 2020 but ultimately never got to participate because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ulaanbaatar City was perennially one of the league's top spenders on players and brought in several high profile signings including Senegalese former international and AS Monaco defender Massamba Samboum, in addition to the club's support of the top domestic talent. It has been one of the very few clubs that pay a living wage to its players which allows them to focus fully on football.

Despite the controversies and ups and downs, it is clear that UB City was a strong force for the development of football in Mongolia. If we will ever see the club again in any form is uncertain, but one certainty is it is a shame to see another important piece of football in the country disappear.

In response to Ulaanbaatar City FC's decision, players and league officials have spoken out with their side of the story.

A follow up article is forthcoming.



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