* The manner of their final success may not have been ideal, but there is no doubting that FC Levadia Tallinn are worthy champions in Estonia.
If coach Tarmo Rüütli had been given the choice of where to celebrate the fourth league title in his club's history, he would doubtless have selected somewhere more romantic than a half-empty stadium in the Tallinn suburbs - but that was where the last act of the championship race took place, as Levadia beat JK Tammeka Tartu 2-0.
With their Kadriorg Stadium hosting UEFA European Under-17 Championship qualifying games, Levadia were forced to play their decisive match in front of just 80 fans - which Rüütli was hardly delighted about. "The Estonian Football Association has some serious thinking to do if the Estonian champions are crowned under circumstances like this," he said.
Levadia's triumph has come as no surprise to Estonian football watchers, and Rüütli's only disappointment was that it did not arrive earlier. "It has been a successful season but I would have been really overwhelmed if we had secured the title a couple of games before," he said. "We lost our focus and some defeats forced us to keep fighting almost until the end."
Levadia had won 23 league games and drawn only two until the UEFA Cup distracted them from the Meistriliiga. Victories against Finland's FC Haka and the Netherlands' FC Twente led to an honourable defeat by Newcastle United FC in the first round proper, while back at home they lost twice in the space of eight days against JK Maag Tartu and FC Flora.
"Obviously, the UEFA Cup matches sapped some of the players' strength," said captain Konstantin Vassiljev, who scored the second goal against Tammeka. "But we played well in Europe and it will be hard for other Estonian clubs to repeat the success we had in the UEFA Cup. Add to that the title and the fact we are still in the Estonian Cup and we have had a very successful campaign."
While boasting experience in the form of former national-team captain Marek Lemsalu, Konstantin Nahk and Indrek Zelinski, the 52-year-old Rüütli bravely put his trust in youngsters such as Vassiljev, Ats Purje, Artur Kotenko and, arguably the league's best player, Aleksandr Dmitrijev. That faith has been rewarded as Levadia - who were formed in 1998 as FC Levadia Maardu, promoted in their first term, and then champions in the next two seasons - sealed their fourth league title to go alongside four Estonian Cups in their trophy cabinet.