Super rich owner Suleiman Kerimov decides to pull the plug on his pet Anzhi Makhachkala experiment, leaving players, staff and fans out in the cold. 


Suleiman Kerimov - Anzhi Makhachkala's owner, for now

They say breaking up is hard to do, and the good folk at Anzhi Makhachkala are about to find out if that's true.

For the last few years in particular football supporters, players, coaching staff and media have watched in a kind of glazed awe as mysterious billionaires have swerved into town in their million euro sports cars and opened suitcases full of money to buy up clubs, big and small, in all corners of the football playing World.

Occasionally these new-wave owners with their billions of dollars earned in often shady circumstances (There’s a reason Roman Abramovich has armed guards discreetly around him) have their motives, tactics and intentions questioned by the media. However this does not happen very often. Perhaps media members are afraid of being banned from the interview room.

Either way, the increase in individual billionaire owners, buying clubs both big and small seemingly on a whim has expanded exponentially and basically without check in the last five years.  Every so often a warning sign pops up that maybe, just maybe, having a volatile billionaire come in and buy up your football club isn’t the most wonderful thing after all.

Fans, players and staff are finding that out right now at Anzhi Makhachkala.

Anzhi Makhachkala. Pre-breakup

Reports are coming out that Anzhi owner Suleiman Kerimov has decided to make a few changes at the club, Those changes will include a drastic slashing of the club’s wage bill, major changes in staff, a shift to a youth policy in terms of players, and a seismic change in the club’s ambitions.

Effectively, after trying to break into the big time by buying up boatloads of high priced players and subsequently failing to do so, Anzhi are now going to do things the traditional way, you know, like any normal football club. They are going to try and build and earn their place in World football. Imagine that!

Sarcasm aside, this is a stunning development, and a huge, blaring, glaring, flashing neon warning sign to the football World as we watch these billionaire business men buy up clubs with little intention other than to serve their own greedy whim, a ridiculous, stubborn and foolhardy chase for glory obtained not by blood, sweat and tears but by dumping millions of dollars, euros and pounds on big players lawns and saying ‘come play at my club, I’ll make you rich’.

Changes at Anzhi are already underway.  Club president Konstantin Remchukov has confirmed that Anzhi will be undergoing a “serious shake-up” with a wildly reduced budget, slashed from the 180 million euro region down to 50-80 million, probably depending on how many players they can offload in the short term. On that note, Russian media are reporting that Russian international captain Igor Denisov has already agreed contracts to join Dinamo Moscow.

The staff is changing too. Former Manchester United staffer René Meulensteen is being replaced as coach just 16 days after he replaced Guus Hiddink. The latter must have sniffed change in the air, and got out well before this drama unfolded. Meulensteen never stood a snowball’s chance in hell in succeeding at Anzhi.

Why is all this happening? There are basically two views going around. Most of the Western media are portraying this as a salary-dump due to the fact Anzhi are off to a bad start and languishing 13th in the Russian league table, with little hope of glory this, or next, season.

However, if you dig a bit deeper, the Russian media is reporting several interesting aspects to this break up.

Suleiman Kerimov in happier times

Russian media is reporting openly that Kerimov experienced ‘stress-related health problems’ after watching Anzhi’s ugly 1-0 home defeat to Rostov on Friday and after that pulled the trigger on changes he had undoubtedly considered previously. Other Russian news entities are reporting that Kerimov suffered huge financial losses from last week’s plunge in the share price of the Uralkali Russian potash producer in which he is a main shareholder.

Isn’t it just great when a football club’s future is tied to the share price of Uralkali Russian potash?

The club itself in a blatant attempt to save face are saying that these budget changes have been made necessary by Uefa's financial fair play regulations. If in doubt, blame a French man, eh (Platini in this case)?

Where does all this carnage leave Anzhi, their players and their fans?

Right back where they started, would appear to be the answer to that question. One thing is certain. This muddle has left the transfer market with one hell of a late-flurry type shopping list of suddenly available players.

Feast your eyes, you can bet managers in the Premier League, La Liga, The Bundesliga and all over the World are doing just that.

  • Willian - 30 million euros
  • Samuel Eto 'O - 22 million euros
  • Igor Denisov - 16 million euros
  • Lacina Traore - 16 million euros
  • Alexander Kokorin - 15 million euros
  • Lassana Diarra - 14 million euros
  • Mubarak Bussufa - 14 million euros
  • Christopher Samba - 11 million euros
  • Zhusiley - 11 million euros
  • Yuri Zhirkov - 11 million euros
  • Vladimir Gabulov - 6.5 million euros

Russian media:
Official club site:
The Guardian:
NDTV sports:
BBC sports:

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