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    Russian billionaire buys Monaco football club

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    Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has bought a controlling stake in French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco, the club announced Friday.

    Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has bought a controlling stake in French Ligue 2 side AS Monaco, the club announced Friday.

    Long-time Monaco resident Rybolovlev, who made his fortune in potash, has acquired a 66.6 percent stake in the club through his Monaco Sport Invest (MSI) holding, the club said in its statement.

    The remaining 33 percent of shares will continue to be held by the principality of Monaco, the statement said.

    Rybolovlev, 45, was elected chairman of the struggling side's newly formed board, the statement said.

    "I do not consider this transaction simply as an acquisition, but as the beginning of a new effective partnership in the interests of the development of the Monaco Football Club," the statement quoted Rybolovlev as saying.

    Prince Albert II of Monaco called the deal "a new page in the history of the football team so dear to the principality."

    "The requirements of modern football create financial difficulties for many clubs, even those at the top level. It was thus inevitable that AS Monaco had to find a partner of prime standing in order to ensure its development," he was quoted as saying.

    Rybolovlev has been referred to as Russia's "potash king" and recently appeared as No. 79 of the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people.

    The deal commits MSI to investing at least 100 million euros in the club over the next four years in its quest to return to the upper echelons of the European game.

    Monaco, the 2004 UEFA Champions League runners up, are one of France's most succesful sides, with seven league titles and five cups, but recent poor form and financial difficulties culminated in the team's relegation from Ligue 1 last year for the first time in three decades.

    The club are currently bottom of Lique 2 with 13 points from 18 games.

     

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