The Russian Premier League is the top division of Russian football. It has gradually developed into a very competitive and reputed domestic football league.
The Russian Top Division was the start of domestic league football in Russia. It started in 1992 and comprised of 20 teams, including 6 clubs who had featured in the Soviet Top League in 1991 (CSKA Moscow, Spartak Moscow, Torpedo Moscow, Dinamo Moscow, Spartak Vladikavkaz, Lokomotiv Moscow).
The Top Division was then divided into two groups and in 1993 the total number of teams were trimmed down to 18 and then in 1994 to 16. Spartak Moscow were the dominant force in Russia during the Russian Top Division era.
In 2001 the Russsian Top Division was revamped into the Russian Premier League. The number of top flight teams were further reduced to 16. Each club in the league play the others twice every season, once at home and once away from home. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss.
If the teams are tied for the first position, the tie-breakers are the number of wins, then head-to-head results. If the teams tied for the first place cannot be separated by these tie-breakers, the championship play-off is ordered.
The champions of the Russian Premier League qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League and so do the runners-up. The third placed side enter the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League while the bottom two teams in the Russian Premier League are relegated to the First Division. The league season starts from March to November.
FC Spartak Moscow are the most successful club in Russia. The reigning champions though are FC Rubin Kazan.