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Chelsea Owner Explains Why He Preferred England to Russia

Money that sponsors give to Russian clubs cannot be compared with the huge sum Roman Abramovich has invested in London's Chelsea
Football nowadays is not just a game in the West; it is an industry that is speedily developing. If the football business is well-organized some football clubs may become really profitable enterprises. For example, the value of England's richest football club Manchester United is over one billion of pounds. Munich's Bayern has approximately the same value.

Football clubs also obtain a lot money from selling their shares on the exchange. The price of shares depends upon the success of the football clubs on the international arena first of all. Clubs must have highly experienced managers. Let's take the Chelsea case for instance: as soon as it was reported that Russian businessman Roman Abramovich purchased the Chelsea controlling interest, the shares of the club went up about 1.5 times.

The biggest part of the earnings of football club owners is made up by trade in shares and sale of the rights to broadcast football games to TV channels. In some countries these rights are very expensive. In this case football clubs dictate their conditions not only to TV channels but also to the national football federations. That is why TV companies often become owners of football club shares.  In England, Aston Villa sold ten per cent of the shares to a cable television. The legendary Liverpool is setting up a joint venture together with the Stock Media company.

In addition to shares and TV broadcasting football clubs also yield stable profits from selling tickets for football matches. With a view to attract as greater audience as possible a football club should play a wonderful game, have popular stars in the team and a modern comfortable stadium. These three components guarantee that the club will attract a large audience. When football fans go to matches they buy not only the tickets but also different items with the club symbols; at that money goes to the club budget as well. Nowadays football clubs mark their symbols on different things: champagne, cakes, skates and bicycles.

Many stadiums, in England for instance, open snack-bars and restaurants, also museums to exhibit stands with pictures belonging to different periods of some particular football club and the trophies it won at different times. Football clubs also make money with leasing their stadiums for conferences, marriage parties, presentations, exhibitions, concerts, children shows, boxing and even dog races. This sort of leasing gives football clubs good money.

If a club performs successfully and enters into the basic group of the Champions League it immediately earns about $2 million. At that, football teams get paid for every match they perform: $740,000 for a victory and $550,000 for a draw.

Sometimes football clubs may conclude sponsor contracts with large companies. If a logo of some beer producer is marked on T-shirts of a football team, the stadium of this football club sells beer only of this producer.

Unlike in Russia, the sponsorship system is wonderfully developed in Europe. Assistance of a sponsor (absolutely legal assistance by the way) is of particular importance for a modern football club in the west. Thus, it is not a surprise that groups of Dutch football fans come to matches and shout not the name of a club but the phrase "Chicken Tonight!" Does chicken have any connection with football? In fact, this is the name of the company producing tasty chicken and sponsoring several Dutch football clubs.

For a very long period the Parmalat dairy giant (Italy) held the leading positions in the football sponsorship. Then traditionally followed Opel, the automobile giant. The company concluded its first sponsor deal with Munich's Bayern in the early 1990s. At that very period the football club experienced rather hard times and the Opel sponsorship came in handy for them. Then the Opel logo appeared on the T-shirts of Prague's Sparta, Belgium's Standard and France's Paris Saint Germain.  

One may say that Russian football teams also have their sponsors today. But what about the future? At that, money these sponsors give to Russian clubs cannot be compared with the huge sum Roman Abramovich has invested in London's Chelsea.

The other day some English journalist asked Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich a question why the Russian businessman decided to invest money in the English club but not in some Russian football team. With his habitual manner of half-smiling Mr. Abramovich answered that the economic situation in the Russian football is not that favorable to make such large-scale investments in it.

This answer may sound a revelation for a trusting Englishman, but not for Russians. People in this country have got used to explanations of this sort. If we follow the words of Abramovich and businessmen like him we may suppose the economic situation in other spheres is also poor. Businessmen like to say so when it comes to investing into domestic economy sectors. No ideas about the poor economic situation come to the minds of businessmen when they wish to use some sectors to pursue their own interests.

Igor Sergeyev
Nezavisimoye Obozrenie

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