Football: Chelsea owner Abramovich winds up development fund for Russian game

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich applauds after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge in London on Aug 18, 2013. Mr Abramovich has decided to wind up his Russian football development programme that s
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich applauds after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Hull City at Stamford Bridge in London on Aug 18, 2013. Mr Abramovich has decided to wind up his Russian football development programme that saw the Chelsea owner plough tens of millions of dollars into the sport in Russia in recent years, his representative said on Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has decided to wind up his Russian football development programme that saw the Chelsea owner plough tens of millions of dollars into the sport in Russia in recent years, his representative said on Wednesday.

The decision was taken as Abramovich's National Football Academy (NAF) "foundation has achieved all of the aims that were set for it," said John Mann said in a statement.

He added that the foundation created around 140 new football pitches across the country and completely renovated the youth Football Academy, which is currently working under control of Samara region authorities.

The foundation has ended its activity in Russia, he added.

Abramovich started to assist Russian football soon after he purchased English Premier League side Chelsea in 2004.

The Sibneft oil company, then under Abramovich's control, signed a three-year sponsorship deal with CSKA worth US$54 million (S$69.2 million).

Abramovich's majority stake in Sibneft was subsequently bought out by state gas giant Gazprom in 2005 and the company was renamed Gazprom Neft.

The billionaire established the foundation with an annual budget of about US$30 million but the overall foundation expenses then reportedly grew to US$200 million.

It also paid the Russian national squad coaching staff's fees.

According to the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, the foundation paid around US$7 million a year to the Dutch manager Guus Hiddink, who led the Russian squad to third place in the 2008 European Championship.

After the national side failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup Finals, Gazprom became the main financing source for the Russian Football Union.

Since that time, the organisations run by Abramovich has gradually decreased its share in Russian football support.

According to Forbes magazine's annual rating, Abramovich is Russia's 13th richest man with an estimated fortune of US$10.2 billion.