Which Belarusian club should you support?
Our thirst for live team sport has come to this.
While COVID-19 causing all sports bar horse racing to shut down in Australia, the Belarusian Premier League has started its 2020 campaign amid the global threat.
The little-known European league has drawn the eyes of the world as the last team sport standing and had punters across the globe rejoicing.
Here's a full guide to the Belarusian top flight and who you should support.
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Colours: Yellow and blue.
Home: Borisov Arena
AFL equivalent: Hawthorn
BATE are the powerhouse of Belarus which claimed 15 league titles from 1999-2018 and finished as runners-up last season. Between 2006 and 2018 the club won 13 consecutive titles.
Why should you support them? They're almost guaranteed to be a title contender, despite losing their opening two league fixtures to Energetik-BGU and Slavia-Mozyr.
Colours: Red and black.
Home: Spartak Stadium
AFL equivalent: St Kilda
Belshina is back in the Belarusian top flight after finishing four points clear at the top of the First League table last season.
Why should you support them? Who doesn't love following the fortunes of a promoted club looking to consolidate itself in the top flight?
Colours: Blue, white and maroon.
Home: Brest Regional Sport Complex
AFL equivalent: Richmond
Dinamo Brest is the reigning titleholder in Belarus after storming to last season's title. Prior to that success, they'd finished eighth, fourth and sixth in the past three campaigns.
Why should you support them? They've got a strong fan base and ended BATE's stranglehold on the league title in 2019. Dinamo Brest climbed from sixth the previous season to the top of the table, only losing once in 30 games.
Colours: White and blue.
Home: Dinamo Stadium
AFL equivalent: Collingwood
One of Belarus' historic clubs and the inaugural winner of the Belarusian Premier League in 1992. Dinamo Minsk is one of the most popular teams in Belarus and has a strong rivalry with BATE Borisov.
Why should you support them? You'd be joining a huge army of fans. Dinamo Minsk plays out of the largest stadium in Belarus and is a perennial contender, finishing no lower than fourth in the past 12 seasons.
AFL equivalent: White and blue.
Home: RCOP-BGU Stadium
AFL equivalent: Port Adelaide
Known as the Students, Energetik-BGU is one of the smallest clubs in the Premier League and only just avoided relegation last season after conceding a league-high 66 goals. Their attacking record was the fourth-best and ensured their safety.
Why should you support them? There were 118 goals scored in 30 Energetik games last season at almost four a match. Talk about value for money.
Colours: Green and white
Home: Gorodeya Stadium
AFL equivalent: Geelong
Gorodeya has enjoyed a steep rise in the past 15 years after being founded as a futsal club. Within 10 years it rose to the Premier League and finished a commendable seventh last year.
Why should you support them? They're still in many ways the new kids on the block and the story of their rise to prominence is quite remarkable.
City: Minsk District
Colours: Blue, white and yellow
Home: FC Minsk Stadium
AFL equivalent: Gold Coast
Isloch has only played in the Premier League for the past five years, however it was only formed in 2007. The club enjoyed its best top-flight finish since being promoted in 2019, collecting 47 points and finishing fifth.
Why should you support them? Last season suggested they're a club on the rise. l
Colours: Blue, white and red
Home: FC Minsk Stadium
AFL equivalent: Adelaide
Minsk had been a regular top-10 finisher before falling to 14th last season and only finishing one point outside the bottom two.
Why should you support them? They're top of the table after two games.
Colours: Green, yellow and grey
Home: Neman Stadium
AFL equivalent: Carlton
It's been seven years since Neman was a serious title threat when it finished fourth. Since then, the club has finished no higher than sixth and only just avoided relegation in 2016.
Why should you support them? Their home colours are green and gold.
Colours: Sky blue, dark blue
Home: Yunost Stadium
AFL equivalent: GWS Giants
Rukh were an amateur club recently as 2016 and joined the Belarus third tier in 2018, which they won while losing only once in 28 matches. They're an attacking powerhouse, scoring 152 goals in the past two seasons.
Why should you support them? They're playing their first top-flight season and jumping on a bandwagon is always fun.
Colours: Yellow and black
Home: Stroitel Stadium
AFL equivalent: West Coast
Shakhtyor are the Belarusian Premier League's hardluck story, finishing as runner-up in four consecutive seasons from 2010-2013 and also 2016 and 2018.
Why should you support them? If they break through for their first crown since 2005, it will be sweet. Think Paul Roos proclaiming "here it is".
Colours: Red, black and white
Home: Yunost Stadium
AFL equivalent: Western Bulldogs
Slavia-Mozyr enjoyed its greatest era not long after its creation, winning the league twice between 1995-2000. They've since overcome financial issues to re-emerge as a top-flight club.
Why should you support them? The underdog factor.
Colours: Blue and white
Home: City Stadium
Slutsk have never finished higher than eighth in the BPL and enjoyed their best campaign last season, amassing 44 points.
Why should you support them? Their amazing crest which features a horse with wings.
Colours: Red, dark blue and sky blue
Home: Ozyorny Stadium
AFL equivalent: Brisbane Lions
Another club which has risen through the ranks of semi-professional and professional football in Belarus in the past decade.
Why should you support them? They've got players in their squad who wear numbers 97 and 99.
Colours: Orange, white and black
Home: Torpedo Stadium
AFL equivalent: Sydney
Torpedo-BelAZ has never won the Belarusian Premier League, but has been a consistent mid-table club since 2013 with four fifth-placed finishes.
Why should you support them? The name Torpedo. Enough said.
Colours: Maroon and blue
Home: Vitebsky Central Sport Complex
AFL equivalent: North Melbourne
Vitebsk did enough to hold is place in the top tier last year, finishing 13th. Their best era was in the 1990s and their results have declined since the turn of the century.
Why should you support them? If you enjoy a cup run. Despite finishing 13th in the league Vitebsk made the cup final last year.
Originally published as Which Belarusian club should you support?