MOSCOW, October 30 (R-Sport) – The heavily indebted Russian Football Union said Wednesday it has struck a sponsorship deal with the country's leading independent natural gas producer, Novatek.
Although the union is thought to have significantly reduced the $25 million worth of debt that had accumulated under previous chief Sergei Fursenko, incumbent Nikolai Tolstykh had been seeking a financial backer to avoid sinking back to that level.
Now, it appears, the body's short-term future is secure, likely providing the Russian national team with all the funding necessary to ensure preparations for its first World Cup in 12 years in Brazil next summer can run smoothly.
"Undoubtedly, the arrival into Russian football of one of the largest gas extraction companies shows the possibilities of mutually beneficial cooperation and will help the Russian Football Union reach its goals," a statement on the organization's website said Wednesday.
The value of the deal was not revealed but was earlier reported to be about 250 million rubles, or about $8 million.
Novatek is Russia's second-largest gas producer after state-controlled company Gazprom, which used to sponsor the Russian Football Union but did not accept a renewal proposal last December for reasons it failed to explain.
Some commentators speculated Gazprom was riled by the union’s refusal to back a proposed new league that merges the top divisions of Russian and Ukrainian football, but the company denied it.