Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday vowed to use his considerable influence to try to save near-bankrupt Premier League football club Tom Tomsk from going under entirely.
The beleaguered club has spiraling debts and no source of funds since the regional authorities, their only sponsor, withdrew their financing, threatening their existence.
"I'm ready to give the order, or a request, I can't force them, they're public companies, but I can ask the companies in the region to invest in the club," Putin told a gathering of soccer fan club representatives. "We need [the companies] to control the financial side and other things not directly associated with sporting activities, such as the financial-material side of the functioning of the club."
Tomsk region vice governor said in November that no funds had been allocated to the club in the 2012 budget after an announcement earlier in the year that financing would be ceased. National majors such as Gazprom, Rosneft, Transneft and Allianz cut their sponsorship ties with the club prior to that announcement.
It is the third time Putin has attempted to attract investors for the club, which lies rock bottom of the Premier League with four wins and 18 defeats in 30 games and is a favorite for relegation into the second division.