Sergey Chernitsyn, a representative of Dmitry Rybolovlev:
“This article and others on this website by the same author appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign to question the integrity and business achievements of Dmitry Rybolovlev. However, none of the claims made in the articles stands up to the slightest scrutiny.
In fact, support for the team and Mr Rybolovlev’s stewardship of the club has never been greater after Monaco reached the last eight of the Champions League and qualified for next year’s competition – achievements which, only a few months ago, naysayers predicted were well beyond the club’s reach. Mr Rybolovlev has recently reiterated his commitment to the club for the long-term – hardly the statement of someone who does not see eye to eye with the sovereign of the Principality.”
There are increasing rumors that a large rift now exists between Prince Albert of Monaco and Dmitry Rybolovlev, the billionaire Russian owner of AS Monaco. It is hard to say exactly when their relationship began to deteriorate.
Rybolovlev bought the team in December 2011, and at the time Monaco was thrilled with the new owner and the increased investment in its football club. Under Rybolovlev’s leadership and with a new infusion of capital, the team was able to acquire many big time players. In just one year they moved from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1 and qualified for the Champions League—an amazing turnaround.
However, the enthusiasm and goodwill from the fans has not lasted. Last summer, Rybolovlev sold both of AS Monaco’s biggest stars, James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, and the fans are still enraged—including the team’s biggest fan Prince Albert. It now seems like Dmitry Rybolovlev is less and less invested and interested in the team, or in his adoptive country. Many are saying that he is trying to sell the team in 2015 and is already speaking to a Chechen businessman about a possible deal. If he can finalize the deal, it’s possible that he’ll leave Monaco by the summer of this year, French football insiders say.
Why Did Prince Albert and Rybolovlev Have a Falling Out?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when these two stopped getting along, but their relationship has certainly been getting worse for some time now. Insiders are suggesting that Rybolovlev is furious that he still hasn’t received a Monaco passport. With his heavy investment and support of the team, he thought the Prince would have already granted him a passport.
Currently Rybolovlev has ten-year residency in Monaco, but he desperately wants full citizenship. Full citizenship and passports for Monaco are very difficult to obtain and can only be granted by the Prince. It is believed there are only about 6,000 people in the world who have been granted this honor, and it’s completely up to the Prince and the royal family’s discretion. Many think that Rybolovlev is after the passport because he wants to take advantage of the lack of income tax in Monaco and would then move his Cyprus assets to Monaco once he got citizenship.
But for Monaco, giving someone a passport, no matter how rich he may be, is a serious matter: to obtain the precious document, one has to become fully engaged in the life of the Principality. Rybolovlev, who still doesn’t speak a word of French, is clearly not fulfilling the requirements. In short, the passport is not for sale.
Without the precious document, it seems that Rybolovlev is tired of waiting and tired of supporting AS Monaco. He’s gouging the team of its best assets and getting ready to sell it to the highest bidder.