MOSCOW: The big spending is over for Anzhi Makhachkala.
The controversial Russian club – from Dagestan but whose star players live in Moscow – has announced a major financial restructuring.
The club has denied reports that the move will lead to a fire sale of its prized assets but manager Rene Meulensteen has been sacked after only two weeks amid speculation that Anzhi will struggle to meet UEFA’s financial fair play regulations.
Anzhi has risen to prominence in the European game through the big spending of Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov following his takeover of the club in January 2011. Kerimov is said to be Russia’s 19th richest man with a fortune of $7.1bn and bankrolled a spending spree that saw the headline arrival of Internazionale forward Samuel Eto’o for a reported E28m in August 2011.
Eto’o was followed by a host of top stars – most recently Shakhtar Donetsk’s Willian, who joined for E35m in January. Anzhi’s budget for 2013 was reportedly $180m, the second-highest in the league behind Gazprom-backed Zenit Saint-Petersburg.
Writing on his Twitter account, Anzhi chairman Konstantin Remchukov said Anzhi will be “re-formatted” in a bid to bring its annual budget to around the $50-70m mark.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Anzhi conceded that its initial strategy of heavy investment hasn’t paid off and it will now pursue a long-term plan focused on youth investment.
The statement read: “The new programme is aimed at gaining success in all the club’s subdivisions with no time limitations. Changes to the club’s budget are caused by UEFA’s up-to-date requirements and are linked with the club’s obligation to comply with financial fair play.
“At the same time, they won’t lead to considerable destruction to the team’s life and the current structure of our club on the whole. Modifications in the personnel policy will be oriented to a long-term prospect. However, a fire sale of the players or other actions that have been so heatedly debated in some areas of the media are not anticipated.
“The club will respect all contractual obligations towards the players. It must be admitted that the earlier steps taken, which were aimed at achieving success quickly through the involvement of big signings, were not successful.”
Following Kerimov’s takeover, Anzhi finished fifth in the 2011-12 Premier League and third last season. The club has made a slow start to the new campaign with two draws and two losses four games into the 2013-14 season.
Bloomberg reports that Kerimov’s fortune is now at least $3.7bn after OAO Uralkali, the world’s biggest potash producer part-owned by the Anzhi chief, shook up the fertiliser market in July by ending a trading joint venture with Belarus. Uralkali’s stock has fallen 31pc on the London Stock Exchange since July 19, wiping out $6bn of market capitalisation.
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