Monaco confirm change of spending approach under Dmitri Rybolovlev
Monaco's vice-president has told L'Equipe last season's Ligue 1 runners-up have changed strategy in order to stop the club's Russian billionaire owner haemorrhaging money.
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Dmitri Rybolovlev, 47, was classed 149th in Forbes' rich list this year with an estimated personal fortune of 8.8 billion dollars.
He dipped into that wealth last summer to bring Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho to Monaco for an estimated 135 million euros as well as signing other household names such as Jeremy Toulalan and Eric Abidal.
Those new additions helped Monaco finish second in their first season back in Ligue 1, and promised to help make the club a domestic and international superpower.
A year on, only Toulalan and Moutinho remain in the principality, but Rybolovlev's right-hand man, Vadim Vasilyev, said the apparent abrupt change of tack was in line with long laid-down plans.
"There's been a change, but it's not brutal. If you look at my interviews last year, I always said that after buying Moutinho, Falcao and James, we would make fewer big investments," said Vasilyev, who added financial considerations, including the 50 million euros the club has to pay the French Football League (LFP) to keep its tax advantages, had accelerated matters.
"No-one believed us. You thought we were going to continue to buy [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi. OK, for you, it went more quickly and further than I had said.
"In fact, three things have made us go even further in our change of strategy. There's first of all financial fair play. Certain sanctions are reprimands, but others are more painful: Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were given heavy punishments: fines, recruitment restrictions, salary caps.
"Those are real sanctions, and the president said to me, 'I invest my money, and then I would have to pay a fine to play in the Champions League. That's out of the question!' The second element is the settling of the dispute with the LFP. It's going to cost us 50 million euros, and that wasn't planned. And it's once more the president's money.
"Thirdly, we thought our revenue was going to increase much more quickly. We thought that with stars, we'd bring sponsors in. I counted on more revenue, it didn't come. When Falcao came, people spoke a lot about Monaco, but sponsors didn't queue up, and we realised that to get them to come, it would take time. You spend a lot, but for it to come in, it takes years."
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Vasilyev insisted the lack of fervency around the club in the principality had not played a part in Falcao's departure to Manchester United and James' move to Real Madrid -- "Falcao never spoke to us about that, James neither," the Russian said -- and pleaded with fans to continue coming to the Stade Louis II despite the dwindling numbers of star names on show.
That call may fall on deaf ears, however, after the influential website Planete ASM called for supporters to demand, en masse, a reimbursement of their season tickets, which range from 160 euros to 1,170 euros.
"It is with the feeling of a hangover that supporters get up this morning," an article on the site read on Tuesday.
"Led a merry dance all summer long with encouraging slogans and promises, in which James Rodriguez and Falcao seemed to carry the club's future to the summits, the fans feel betrayed today, betrayed to have believed the club's promises, betrayed to have accepted a significant increase in the price of season tickets at the Stade Louis II."
The site highlighted AC Milan's vow to reimburse season tickets of fans disgruntled by the 2012 sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to PSG.
"Monaco supporters, why not do the same? Nothing suggests the club will accept these demands, but it will at least allow us to emphasise the general discontent. So, if you so wish, demand the reimbursement of your season ticket or of the enormous increase compared to last season."