The great thing about sport is that anything is possible. Two weeks ago I was told by a very inside journalist that Guus Hiddink had fallen out badly with his staff and that somebody else had the ear of the General Director and Owner. As soon as Guus was fired/resigned the rumour was put out by people close to the club that he was going for the Barcelona job, hence it was a neat fit. This, on the face of it, was laughable but it took the scent off what was happening behind the scenes. I tweeted that the person who got Guus the shove was going to step straight in, with extra. There was never a more obvious “Et tu Rene” moment as took place in the Anzhi training base. And what caused it was stranger than Hiddink being there in the first place.
Thursday last (25.07.13) the latest bid for respect came from Anzhi. To flex some muscle, it’s believed, the newly appointed head coach had promised to deliver a World class football man to take over as a Director of Football, who would have full say over youth development and International scouting. Only one name was mentioned and when I was told you could have knocked me down with a featherweight. At 71 years of age I had a sincere doubt Alex Ferguson would want to take up a role with Anzhi, I couldn’t see anyone wanting to take over the role who would demand complete independence and right of independent action.
The next morning I called the journalist who had held a one-on-one with Rene and Anzhi officials, he repeated it and sent me the audio clip, they said that they’d approached his representatives – after Rene mentioned it to him – and put an offer to him. It was a multi-year contract worth seven figures a year and would add real oomph to the club. As soon as it got out, there was surprise and the club scrambled a little to answer, instead of being clear they claimed they couldn’t discuss current negotiations. Five days later as I write, the former Aberdeen manager has yet to land in Moscow, nor will he.
In football, especially in Russia, there is a level of braggadocio that doesn’t really exist anywhere else. Football is very temporary and getting the boot without a shilling in your pocket is nothing new, nor is getting stiffed on a deal that in normal business would result in a serious lawsuit. Players, coaches and staff find themselves let go without proper protection of the law, in some cases there is physical intimidation. The case of Nikola Nikezic and his ordeal at the hands of Kuban Krasnodar is a case in point. Negotiations to be placed on the transfer list instead of signing off on his contract were conducted amiably until he didn’t do what he was told and two non-club heavies came to beat and threaten him for 20 minutes. Nikezic was later awarded almost a quarter of a million euros in compensation from a club that are now in a fight with a football agent over the sale of a player.
In “Midsummer madness in Moscow” (20/07/2013) I gave a passing glance to a really dangerous piece of business involving Armenian star Araz Ozbiliz. Araz was touted to go to Monaco and then it all went cold once his agent, Dmitriy Selyuk, announced that the €6million deal would only go ahead once he received half the transfer fee as he owned the player. As a West Ham follower for over 30 years I got a heavy lump in my stomach hearing this – Carlos Tevez mark II. Kuban knew better than to argue really openly and then the player turned up in Spartak Moscow, joining fellow national team-mate Yura Movsisyan. It took exactly ten minutes for it all to kick off. Selyuk is claiming the move is illegal. This is the result of a feud that erupted between Selyuk and the Sports Director of Kuban Dorochenko. In March, three of Selyuk’s players were dumped into the reserves (youth) and now Ozbiliz is the centre of a scandal.
It appears that half the players contract was owned by Dynamo Moscow, this was bought by Selyuk and so he is due (under commercial law) half any transfer fee. However, football, and sport, reckons it can operate in a different universe, which means this is going to run. Anything and everything is possible in Russian football.