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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paper: Fedun Buying Spartak Soccer Club

Where Roman Abramovich goes, others could soon follow.

LUKoil vice president Leonid Fedun may own only a fraction of Abramovich's estimated $10.6 billion fortune, but according to a press report, he is about to buy up soccer club Spartak Moscow.

An entity close to Fedun, or Fedun himself, is close to buying 90 percent of Russia's most illustrious club from owner Andrei Chervichenko for up to $70 million, Vedomosti reported Monday.

Spartak refused to confirm or deny the reports.

If sealed, the Spartak deal would come at the end of a whirlwind month for Russian soccer. In mid-March Abramovich's Sibneft pledged $54 million to sponsor champions CSKA. Less than a week later, Nafta-Moskva, which originally expressed interest in Italian club Roma, joined a $60 million sponsorship deal for Moscow region club Saturn.

LUKoil is Spartak's current sponsor, and Fedun has been linked to the purchase of the club for at least a year.

But LUKoil said Monday that it had not bought Spartak.

"As for Fedun that is a personal matter," a LUKoil spokesman said.

Worth $1.3 billion, Fedun is listed as the 437th richest person in the world by Forbes magazine.

"This is the start of official money," said Alexander Gorbunov, editor of My Football weekly, about recent deals.

Russian teams have a reputation for closed ownership and murky financing. But as top Russian companies begin moving toward transparency, so have the country's soccer clubs.

From next season, UEFA, Europe's soccer governing body, will insist that clubs playing in Europe reveal their ownership structures and publish internationally recognized audits.

Investments into domestic soccer teams have surged in the past three years, with Russia overtaking the second tier leagues of Europe such as Holland and Belgium in turnover.

In 2003, Russian premier league had an approximate turnover of $200 million.

Russian clubs are now heavily owned or financed by some of the country's biggest companies and richest men.

Spartak fans are likely to welcome a sale to Fedun, as the club under Chervichenko has sunk in the past two years from perennial challengers to also-rans.

Fedun has already racked up a record as a generous benefactor of the sport.

As LUKoil vice president, he played an instrumental role in arranging the current sponsorship deal, signed in 2003 for an estimated $3 million per year until 2006.

At the time Fedun said that he hoped "the sponsorship would help Spartak win not only in Russia but also represent domestic soccer successfully in the international arena."

Fedun was also one of two Russian businessmen who offered to finance the hiring of a foreign coach after Russia's dismal showing at the 2002 World Cup.

Spartak hired a foreign coach, Nevio Scala, late last year.

In other structural changes, the club created the new posts of general director and PR director at the end of March, said Alexei Kireyev, the new PR director.