September 20, 2017 / 6:10 PM / a year ago

Spartak Moscow owner says would not sell the club

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Spartak Moscow owner Leonid Fedun said on Wednesday he was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the club but insisted he would not sell it.

Lukoil Deputy Chief Executive Leonid Fedun attends an interview as part of the Reuters Russia Investment summit in Moscow, Russia September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Olesya Astakhova

The Russian central bank’s rescue last month of Otkritie bank, a Spartak sponsor, raised questions about the club’s finances and speculation that Fedun could be forced to reassess his ownership.

Fedun, the deputy head of oil giant Lukoil (LKOH.MM) and an Otkritie shareholder, said the bank’s situation would not affect the club and its ownership.

“I won’t offer Spartak to anyone,” said Fedun at the Reuters Russia Investment Summit.

He added, however, that Spartak had garnered interest from investors but that none of them had made any serious proposals.

Spartak won their first Russian Premier League title in 16 years last season but are off to a tepid start this year, winning only three of 10 matches.

Despite stressing he had no desire to sell the club, Fedun conceded he was finding it increasingly difficult to deal with the psychological pressures of owning one of Russia’s most prestigious teams.

“It’s more and more difficult to carry this on my own, first of all from a psychological point of view,” he said.

“Two weeks ago everything was fine, you were the hero. After your first loss, they start throwing dirt at you. And it’s very difficult to be constantly stressed for 16 years.”

Fedun did not disclose the club’s budget but said it was equivalent to that of the “top two or three teams of England’s Championship”.

He said Spartak could not compete with European clubs for the acquisition of elite players because salaries had skyrocketed.

“We are witnessing huge inflation in soccer,” he said. “In these conditions, it is impossible to compete with the West with Russian means.”

Spartak face Liverpool in their second Champions League Group E match on September 26 in Moscow. They drew Slovenia’s Maribor 1-1 in their opening match last week.

Reporting by Olesya Astakhova and Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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