This foot­ball fan broke the mould

From sell­ing spare parts to be­com­ing a ma­jor player in the sport, Alexei Fe­doric­sev has made his mark

CityPress - - Sport - This ar­ti­cle ap­peared in the AIPS News­let­ter

Alexei Fe­doric­sev is a pi­o­neer, the soc­cer fan who led the way for Rus­sian in­vestors in western Euro­pean foot­ball.

Bil­lion­aire Fe­doric­sev’s loy­alty over the past two decades has been to Monaco. There it re­mains. He is not the only Rus­sian at Monaco. His busi­ness as­so­ciate, Dmitry Ry­bolovlev, owns 66% of the club. But Ry­bolovlev only “ar­rived” in 2011. Fe­doric­sev, by con­trast, has un­der­pinned Monaco’s se­cu­rity through spon­sor­ship for the past two decades.

Fans may fret over his star-sell­ing strat­egy – Bernardo Silva, Tié­moué Bakayoko, Ben­jamin Mendy and, most notably, Kylian Mbappé this year alone – but Fe­doric­sev has no doubts about its wis­dom.

And, as he says, he “never changes” his mind about any of his de­ci­sions.

Fe­doric­sev doesn’t ex­pe­ri­ence the in­ner con­flict of the busi­ness­man/fan, which prompts risky de­ci­sions. For Fe­doric­sev, main­tain­ing a bal­ance be­tween busi­ness and sport is es­sen­tial.

His of­fice is a five-minute walk from the famed Casino de Monte-Carlo, but Fe­doric­sev’s words and ac­tions are not those of a gam­bler. He is out­wardly mod­est about his in­flu­ence at AS Monaco. But the mo­ment he talks money, there is no doubt he has all the fig­ures at his fin­ger­tips and in his head.

It’s the same with his mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness em­pire. Fe­doric­sev is hands-on. Lit­er­ally.

He says: “I don’t have a com­puter. I don’t have email. Just a tele­phone. My con­tract is my hand­shake.”

Over 20 years, Fe­doric­sev’s Monaco-based com­pany, Fed­com­in­vest, has in­vested well over

$100 mil­lion (R1.4 bil­lion) in Monaco. Fe­doric­sev does not play with words.

He is the main “spon­sor”. He does not like the sport/busi­ness euphemism of “part­ner”.

It’s been a long jour­ney for a boy from a “nor­mal poor fam­ily like ev­ery­one else grow­ing up in the Soviet Union”.

His fa­ther was an FC Spar­tak fan, but for Alexei, grow­ing up with a love of both foot­ball and ice hockey, it was “Dy­namo, Dy­namo, Dy­namo, though I don’t know why”.

A promis­ing de­fender, he crossed paths dur­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice with sev­eral fu­ture in­ter­na­tion­als, but “this was the 1980s when some­thing started to change in Rus­sia, so I started to think about what busi­ness was pos­si­ble”.

Fe­doric­sev built his busi­ness be­fore the com­mu­nist col­lapse.

“This was noth­ing to do with the pri­vati­sa­tions. Noth­ing. I was work­ing be­fore the days of the guys with the big yachts. I only ever in­vested the money I had made.”

He be­gan with a spare parts busi­ness. That took him to brake pads, re­pair cen­tres, con­struc­tion, tim­ber, fer­tilis­ers, phos­phates, wheat, steel and ship­ping. The jour­ney took Fe­doric­sev to Geneva and then Monaco.

There rights agent Jean-Claude Dar­mon per­suaded him to spon­sor AS Monaco. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, Fe­doric­sev ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion to be­come gen­eral di­rec­tor at his first love, FC Dy­namo Moscow.

At Dy­namo, he spent more than $100 mil­lion on play­ers from Brazil and Por­tu­gal, thanks to the wheel­ing and deal­ing of su­per agent Jorge Men­des, who now does good busi­ness with Monaco. But, by 2007, he had run into too many other vested in­ter­ests at Dy­namo and quit.

“Dy­namo; a great name now but noth­ing else,” he says sadly and fo­cuses his foot­ball at­ten­tion on Monaco. Monaco’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral and trans­fers supremo, Vadim Vasi­lyev, was a Fed­com­in­vest vice-pres­i­dent be­tween 1997 and 1999.

Fe­doric­sev de­scribes Vasi­lyev as “a very clever gen­tle­man. Very in­tel­li­gent.”

That in­tel­li­gence, for Fe­doric­sev, has been per­fectly il­lus­trated by the club’s trans­fer strat­egy.

“What is al­ways very im­por­tant is the at­mos­phere in­side the dress­ing room. At Monaco, this is very good, bet­ter I think than at Paris Saint-Ger­main.”

This is one of the rea­sons Fe­doric­sev be­lieves the Mbappé deal was per­fectly timed.

“I think it was just right. It’s not easy to keep play­ers in our world to­day. Young play­ers start to think about big amounts of money very quickly. An agent comes to you – to your fa­ther, to your mother – so the player starts to think.

“This is a very im­por­tant mo­ment. Bet­ter to ac­cept the good deal and do it with­out emo­tion.”

In other words, good busi­ness.

PHOTO: ALEXAN­DER HASSENSTEIN / BONGARTS / GETTY IM­AGES

PER­FECT TIM­ING Kylian Mbappé’s move to Paris Saint-Ger­main had a huge im­pact on the world trans­fer mar­ket

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

SELL­ING STARS Alexei Fe­doric­sev

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