Our owner sat down with our press service to discuss a host of things about the club including our new coaching staff, goals for the future, and our infrastructure.
– There have been many personnel changes in the club – a new sports director, coaches, new faces in the administrative headquarters. What is the reason behind this?
– We have a young team. In sports, as well as in business, it is difficult to immediately predict everything. People leave, people come and some stay to work for many years. If a key employee in my company quits, people will ask why this happened. In a football club, everything is in plain sight, so sometimes it seems that we are swinging like a pendulum. In reality, we have clear goals and objectives. This season we have invited Scottish specialist Chris Docherty to the position of sports director. We are constantly in touch and I discuss many issues with him. Despite his young age, he is very ambitious, pragmatic and smart. I really like his approach to work and everything he does. It’s too early to talk about the coaching staff, I had the opportunity to talk to them at the training camp – we talked on the field and held a meeting where I told them about our goals and objectives, and they shared their opinions and experience. It is clear that it is not easy for foreigners to immediately adapt to Russian players and our mentality. I believe and hope that Chris and I made the right choice.
– Why did you choose foreign specialists?
– European football has been making a lot of progress lately, becoming faster and more dynamic. Even teams from small and poor European countries show high-quality and interesting football – the players have excellent control of the ball, they are distinguished by their tactical skills. We were looking for specialists who would share the philosophy and principles of the club, who would be able to bring tactical flexibility and take the team to a new level. We considered different options, but settled on the current group and considered it to be fully consistent with our vision. At the same time, the work has not yet been completed, we are still working on strengthening.
– What are your goals for the team in the near future?
– Of course, we really like to play in the FNL, but we created the club with the aim of not staying in it for long. We want to grow, progress, develop. The next goal is RPL.
– Does the club want to get into the RPL at the end of the current season, or do you have a more conservative goal?
– I always set the most ambitious goals for the club and for my businesses. It’s hard to imagine a club owner who spends a lot of money on the maintenance of the team and just sets the goal of getting into the top ten. It is necessary to set tasks that will allow the players to move to a new level.
– You personally came to the team gathering in Turkey: you talked with the players, the new coaching staff. Is the team ready for such serious challenges at this stage of its development?
– We are on the right track, we have changed a lot, but in some ways, objectively, we are not yet at an acceptable level. We do not yet have the necessary infrastructure for a top-flight team. If we go to the RPL, we will have one of the most modest budgets. On the other hand, there is no perfect moment. You can prepare for a long time, sit and talk about the degree of readiness of the club. If at the age of 20 I had not taken up business, sat and assessed the risks, then, probably, I would not have become what I have become now. There will always be difficulties, we will solve them as quickly as possible.
– Has the club applied for an RPL license?
– Yes. We participate in all meetings, carry out the necessary work. Unfortunately, so far we have only one stadium in the region that meets all the requirements of the league – this is the Samara Arena. We plan to play there until the commissioning of our own stadium.
– How are things going with the design of the new stadium and when would you like to acquire it?
– We would like to build it very quickly, but there are many external circumstances that make that difficult. Initially, there was a great desire to build a stadium in a beautiful place, on the banks of the Volga, so that it would become an ornament of the city and a center of attraction for citizens. I did not want to invest money and build a stadium in the outskirts of the city. There are not many such beautiful places in Togliatti, but finally we almost managed to agree on a land plot in the Avtozavodsky district. If in the near future all the details are finally agreed upon, then we will immediately begin the design process.
– You have improved the infrastructure of the Kristall stadium in Zhigulevsk. Will you keep upgrading it? Is there a need for this? If so, what are you planning to do?
– We have already invested about 80 million rubles in the modernization of the Kristall. A lot has been done to make it possible to hold FNL matches there; lights, stands, an artificial field of the highest quality. I really want the kids to be there. Unfortunately, we have cold winters, so in the fall we have to stop training, dismiss the children until spring, or train in gyms, which, unfortunately, simply do not exist in Zhigulevsk. There are plans to build an arena on the territory of the stadium so that children can play football all year round.
– What is the status of the Konoplev Academy?
– I really hope that in the near future there will be a logical conclusion to this story, the denouement is close. We have a lot of plans connected with the Academy to educate talented players and recruit them to the main team of FC Akron. If everything ends well and it is still handed over to us for concession, then this year I want to have time to repair one pitch, build a proper arena measuring 105 x 68 meters and begin construction of another administrative building, which will have a modern medical rehabilitation center, locker rooms and other functional areas necessary for the academy. The main team will also be able to use it.
– Our second team which is playing in the KFK is disbanding. Will there be an alternative for it in the structure of the club in the new sports season and in which tournament will it play?
– Not yet. The decision to create a second team was premature. The goals and objectives were not clearly defined, and the minimum budget with which they started began to gradually increase. We have decided to temporarily suspend this project, but we are planning a second professional team in our vertical, as a logical continuation of our efforts to develop youth football and invest in the Academy.