If you asked 100 Manchester United supporters if they would like their club to be bought by a multi-billionaire Russian oligarch in order to replace the Glazers, you'd probably get at least 95 yeses.
Well, Manchester United fans, that exact scenario very nearly happened. In an exclusive interview with Paris Match in France, Russian businessman and now AS Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev revealed that he considered buying many clubs, including Manchester United, before finally deciding to purchase the Ligue 2 club in December 2011.
Rybolovlev who, according to Forbes, is worth $9.1 billion has, since taking over the club, spent over £150m on new players, including Falcao, James Rodriguez, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Joao Moutinho.
The Russian billionaire reveals that he first discovered his passion for football at Stamford Bridge: “The first football game I went to was about ten years ago, at Chelsea. Not in a box but in the stands, with the fans. I discovered that unique emotion only football can create.”
After that, he set his mind on buying a football club and thought about buying various clubs before settling on Monaco: “Before Monaco, other clubs interested me, like Manchester United where I had a box, but AS Monaco is a club with a long and beautiful history and a team both local and national. In a way, it really is a unique club”.
He also reveals that buying Monaco nearly didn't happen because of his marriage: “I always wanted to live there [in Monaco], but my wife didn't want to. When she filed for divorce, I finally managed accomplish this dream I had. I love the climate and the quality of life here, but also the infrastructures and its ideal geographical location as I travel a lot”.
There you have it. If it weren't for Manchester's climate, the fact it isn't a principality and its poor geographical location, the current Premier League champions could have had a new owner in 2011.
Of course, it could all go wrong in Monaco with increasing Ligue 1 pressure on the club to drop at least some of their tax-free status, and then he could be running to Cote d'Manchester.
Article from Tom Coast. Tom has spent much of his life in France, speaks several languages and helps Sport Witness get real insight on stories from across French football and beyond.
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