Leonid Fedun – From Apparatchik to Affluence

Leonid Fedun probably pondering the future of Russian football. Source: Alexey Filippov/TASS.

Leonid Fedun has recently spoken out on the necessary reform for the Premier League, offering up what he claims is a “football revolution”, however, just who is he?

The current owner of Spartak Moscow, he is on a high after the red-whites’ first championship victory in sixteen years in the summer. However, this was not always the case, with a “Fedun curse” emanating the halls of the club and Tarasovka training ground since he took over the controlling stake in the club in 2003. Despite saving the club from bankruptcy, until this summer he had never won a single trophy in charge of the most successful club in Russia.

The last league triumph was in 2001 and the last trophy, in general, the Cup victory in 2003 just mere months before he took over controlling reigns. This was vastly swatted away last year, and Fedun’s reputation has undergone somewhat of a resurgence ever since. We already have a profile of his time at Spartak up on the site last year, but here is a look at his time at how he transformed from a military research attache to one of the most powerful businessmen in the nation.

READ MORE: Leonid Fedun – A Dinamo Fan in Charge of Spartak Moscow

 

Military History

In the Soviet Union, Fedun was a typical military apparatchik, a member of both the forced and Communist Party who spent his career rising through the ranks of a series’ of differing military academies and Party apparatus’. In 1977, he graduated from the military-political faculty of the Rostov Higher Military Command School M.I. Nedelina, then in 1984, he graduated from the Adjuncture of the Military Academy F. E. Dzerzhinsky, and read sociology there until 1992, finally rising to the rank of colonel. For those unacquainted, these types of military academies are more like lifetime universities for those with a promising future in the party, as opposed to being trained for combat deployment.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Fedun followed many Party members in taking advantage of the widespread privatisation, and after he graduated from the Higher School of Privatization and Entrepreneurship in 1993, and thus was officially dismissed from the military.

He went into business and founded the company Neftkonsult LLP (before graduation in November 1992), and then later became the CEO of JSC (Vostok Aviation Company).

 

LUKoil

In 1994 he became the Vice-President of LUKoil inc, thanks to his close comradeship with CEO Vagit Alekperov, which began when the met in the mid-1980s in Kogalym, in Siberia. Alekperov had actually offered this role to Fedun on a number of occasions beforehand, but from March 1994 he had accepted the role and focussed on the “strategic direction of the company”.

Fedun’s first great change in charge of LUKoil was to introduce VINK, vertically integrated oil and gas and was able to transform the potential wealth of movement of commodity and financial flow into real economic value, ensuring maximum GDP. All this in a period in which the post-Soviet collapse saw the widescale fragmentation of economic ties throughout the nation.

Today, Fedun heads the Main Directorate for Strategic Development and Investment Analysis of LUKoil and is also a member of the Board of Directors of the company.

Fedun is the majority shareholder of LUKoil (9.2%), which is one of the largest global producers of oil. In 2012, the company produced 89.856 million tons of oil (1.813 million barrels) per day and in 2012 was awarded the Order For Merit to the Fatherland, 4th Order, having already accrued the Order of Honour (2000) for his work in both the oil and sports industry.

Having a personal fortune of $6.3 billion, in 2017 Leonid Fedun took 22nd place in the list of 200 richest businessmen of Russia according to Forbes.

 

Spartak Ownership

In 2003, Fedun acquired a controlling stake in Spartak Moscow, which at the time was almost bankrupt and in a horrendously poor fiscal state due to a decade of economic troubles within the nation as a whole, and recent overspending in the short-term.

The aforementioned curse, however, haunted the halls of Tarasovka and Spartak’s numerous home stadiums over the course of Fedun’s tenure, including at the Stadium Lokomotiv, Dinamo Stadium, the Olympisky,  Eduard Streltsov Stadium and mainly the old Luzhniki Stadium. In fact, until September 2014, the biggest, most well-supported and most successful club in the nation never actually had its own stadium.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition to a market economy, the club initially could not afford a stadium because of a lack of funds for construction. Attempts to build their own stadium were undertaken by the club from 1994. They were allocated land in the Botanical Garden area of the Moscow City Hall but construction was cancelled due to the protests by local residents, organised by the Russian Green Party.

Other attempts resumed in 1998 and 2001 but all fell through due to sheer costs of all proposals.

Spartak’s replesedent new home, the 44,000 seater Otkrytie Arena. Source: Открытие Арена.

This all changed with the planning and opening of the beautiful Otkrytiye Arena in September 2014. Fedun organised and funded the construction of the “Opening” Arena. The stadium was the first ever in Russia built entirely through private funding and will host games at the 2018 World Cup.

It was decided in November 2006 that the new stadium would be built in the area of the old Tushino airfield, and financing was guaranteed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Spartak and Vice President of LUKoil himself, Fedun. On June 2, 2007, the ceremony of the solemn laying of the first stone took place. The construction was suspended several times: initially due to bureaucratic delays and peculiarities of location (which lies alongside the tunnel of the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya metro line ), and then in connection with the global financial and economic crisis.

The stadium, named after the Otkrytie Bank has been hailed as an achievement, and if not for Fedun, this would never have happened. It is stooped in both Spartak tradition and history with a gladiator statue located outside, the red and white diamond cladding all over outside and monuments of numerous legends were erected including; Igor Netto, Nikita Simonyan, Fedor Cherenkov and the Starostin brothers.

The stadium itself cost 14.5 billion rubles by completion and is all thanks to Fedun.

The last year has hugely changed his luck, as Spartak’s luck has finally been transformed.

His “Football Revolution” that he proposes may not be that, however, it may simply be a revolution for the elite, and only those who can afford the entry fee may come along for the ride. Fedun has a vast, successful military, business and football history – however, I think the reforms he has proposed are symptomatic and idiomatic of this history. The clubs who cannot afford this “entry fee” will simply be left to rot and become stranded, and thus, without a full-functioning league system, how long will it last?

As I have claimed in the past in my analysis of Feduns’s comments;

Yes, Fedun is offering football revolution. But a revolution only for those who can afford to be involved. It is a revolution for the elite, one from above. Lower-league sides and those struggling in the RPL, even some perennial mid-table sides would be disappointed by his reforms. He needs to outline how he would improve the FNL in much greater detail. As far as I’m concerned the Trans-Siberian football league is still which requires the most urgent reform. Yes, the RPL needs reform to thrive, but FNL needs it to merely survive.

Fedun’s reforms could work. Especially for the propagation of the Russian game globally and upon the European stage. But we also need more reforms to protect those with the local and regional interest.

The biggest stumbling block, however, is that all of this would be arbitrary if the problems of finance in the nation aren’t solved immediately, through privatisation and fiscally stronger broadcast deals.

READ MORE: Leonid Fedun’s “Football Revolution”: How the Spartak owner proposes reforming Russian football

Author: James Nickels

Born and raised in South Shields, the direct mid-point between Sunderland and Newcastle in North-East England during an era of sustained success and European football for the Magpies, while the Black Cats floundered in the lower divisions, so naturally I decided to support Sunderland. I’ve developed an interest in Russian football over the last decade or so, but it piqued while studying for my Masters’ Degree in Russian and Soviet History, and I’ve been hooked by Spartak Moscow ever since. Considers Eduard Streltsov the best of his generation, and a fond proponent of his repatriation.

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