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MOSCOW, January 27. /TASS/. The Russian Football Union (RFU) is close to signing a new sponsorship deal to the amount of between 200 and 300 million rubles ($2.5-3.8 million), Russian Sports Minister and RFU President Vitaly Mutko announced on Wednesday.
"We are about to sign a sponsorship contract with another partner," Mutko said. "It can be a deal worth $200-300 million rubles."
"Everything is ready to sign an agreement," Mutko said in an interview with TASS. "Perhaps, we will be even able to sign it tomorrow. Everything goes well and it is only a matter of organizing [the actual signing]."
Sports Minister Mutko, who is also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, was unanimously elected the RFU president at the organization’s extraordinary session last year on September 2.
The following day Mutko announced that the RFU reached a deal on a major four-year sponsorship contract with the Russian metals giant Norilsk Nickel. The contract for an undisclosed sum was signed on September 4.
Mutko noted that the Russian Football Union plans to cancel payments required to be paid by Russian football clubs for their contracted foreign footballers starting the next national season.
"Different payments were in force depending on the league," Mutko told journalists. "We have agreed that [the current] payments would be in force until the current season expires."
"We have put everyone on a single par making them pay 150,000 rubles [some $1,900] for a legionnaire," Mutko said. "I hope that starting next season we will scrap this payment out. I am not in support of such payments."
According to the official, the Russian Football Union has paid out all debts whatsoever to all footballers that used to play for the national football team.
"For the first time ever, we [the RFU] have no debts to repay to all footballers playing for the national teams," Mutko said.
"The debt was about 2.6 bln rubles ($33 mln). Accounts payable are currently equal to 316.2 mln rubles ($4.0 mln)," Mutko said.
The debt was partly repaid owing to money received from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) for the Russian team getting into the final part of 2016 Euro Cup. "We received a payment for getting into Euro Cup finals and it helped us, considering the situation with the exchange rate. We paid a portion of payables," the official said.
Mutko earlier stated that sponsorship contracts would account for 60% of RFU’s revenues in 2016 and that the previous debt of the Russian football governing body of 1.2 billion rubles ($15 million), which he inherited taking over the organization last September, had been already reduced to 700 million rubles ($8.8 million).
Speaking last year right after his election, Mutko said the RFU would need a year and a half to repay all of the union’s accounts payable and added that the organization was capable of attracting investments worth three billion rubles (up to $45 million at that time’s exchange rate).
Mutko headed the RFU from April 2005 to November 2009. He left the post of the organization’s president, following a government resolution, which required that government officials should quit top positions in sports federations.
In July 2015, an exception was made for Mutko to combine the posts of the sports minister and the RFU’s head, which allowed him to take part in the presidential elections.
After Mutko quit the RFU in November 2009, the Russian Football Union was headed by Sergei Fursenko from February 2010 to June 2012 and Nikolai Tolstykh from September 2012 to May 2015.
Tolstykh was relieved of his duties by a decision made by delegates of the organization’s conference in May 2015 over the deplorable financial state of the RFU, whose debts allegedly amounted to about 1.2 billion rubles.
The organization’s conference at that time elected 88-year-old Simonyan as the RFU’s acting head at the time. After Mutko’s election as the new chief of the Russian Football Union, Simonyan resumed his duties as the RFU’s first vice-president.
The next elections of the RFU’s head will be held within six months after the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, to be held on August 5-21, 2016.