Sat, Jul 05, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Soccer head bemoans lack of investment

REUTERS , MOSCOW

Russian soccer chief Vyacheslav Koloskov scolded compatriot billionaire Roman Abramovich on Thursday for buying English club Chelsea instead of investing in clubs at home.

Abramovich, 36, who made his fortune in oil and aluminum, bought the premier league club this week with a cash offer valued at nearly ?60 million (US$100 million).

"Of course, I would have preferred if he [Abramovich] bought a Russian club instead," Koloskov said. "Especially, if he has made all his millions in Russia, by using this country's natural wealth, its oil, gas and other resources.

"On the other hand, it's his money, so it was perfectly appropriate for him to spent it the way he wanted," he said.

Koloskov said he would welcome money being poured into Russian soccer by the new breed of super-rich "oligarchs."

He also disagreed with the view Russia has no high-profile clubs that would make a logical business investment.

"We already had [oil company] LUKOIL buying Spartak Moscow, Siberian Aluminum [Sibal, now known as Basic Element] buying Krylya Sovietov Samara and Norilsk Nickel taking over Torpedo-Metallurg Moscow, but certainly there is room for a few more of them in our game," he said.

"We have some good clubs on the market right now and we could use some of their money ... to be spent here, on Russian soccer, not abroad."

However, Koloskov has seen at least one positive aspect in Abramovich's acquisition of Chelsea.

"Well, we know Chelsea as one of the top clubs in England, a well-run organization with good infrastructure, top managerial and administrative personnel," he said.

"So now, since we have a Russian owner there, we could develop closer ties with Chelsea. We could use the London club," he said.

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