Russian football giants unveil Englishman in key role

Spartak Moscow have confirmed the appointment of Paul Ashworth

Spartak Moscow have appointed veteran Briton Paul Ashworth as their new sporting director, as the Russian Premier League giants confirmed on Monday.

The news was revealed on the club’s website and on social media, with Spartak noting that Ashworth « an excellent knowledge of the Russian language played an important role »in his appointment as well as« a long professional experience. »

« We welcome Paul Ashworth and wish him much success in his work for Spartak! »added the club.

Ashworth, 52, is familiar with Russian football having held the same position at FC Rostov in 2005.

When manager Gennady Stepushkin was undergoing treatment, he stepped in as interim head coach and took charge of the southern Russian club.

Ashworth’s career took postings further afield in Nigeria, where he told The Athletic he had previously been held hostage for « four or five o’clock » by 50 young men at the Sunshine Stars FC stadium and in Latvia.

His most accomplished work was in Kazakhstan as CEO and sporting director of Astana.

During a successful 18-month tenure, Ashworth oversaw the club’s arrival in the Europa League, where they secured a historic group stage win over Manchester United in 2019.

Ashworth’s appointment to Spartak was expected in Russia after CEO Evgeny Melezhikov said the club would soon have a new foreign sporting director.

Ten days ago, Championat said they spoke to sources familiar with the situation who told them Ashworth would fly to Moscow and sign a contract with one of the biggest clubs in the country.

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Ashworth was unveiled in the Russian capital just under a week later, and at a time of general change at Spartak.

The Muscovites are Russia’s most successful national team of all time with 22 top-flight titles, but currently sit fifth in the top flight on 19 points and seven points behind leaders and defending champions Zenit.

Russian energy firm Lukoil gained full control of Spartak last month and confirmed that longtime chairman Leonid Fedun would step down as he tries to « strengthen Spartak’s competitive position and lead to further victories. »

Melezhikov swore that« There will be great changes to Spartak”,and on the same day that Ashworth’s appointment was announced, Spartak further revealed that the club had elected their new board comprising“top managers” by Lukoil.

Lukoil Vice President Aleksandr Matytsyn will lead the board and will be joined by« experts in finance, legal and corporate governance » including Pavel Zhdanov, Ivan Maslyaev and Evgeny Khavkin, as confirmed by Matytsyn to TASS.

Melezhikov will retain his role as general manager of the club, as Sergey Rodionov is president of Spartak Academy and Oleg Malyshev and Yusuf Alekperov are independent directors.

READ MORE: Russian oil giant takes over football club

« Our first priority is to create a more transparent collegial mechanism for decision-making and the allocation of funds », said Matytsyn.

“During its implementation, we will rely on Lukoil’s management model, the effectiveness of which has been proven by the company’s 30-year history.

« Understanding all the specifics, we cooperate as closely as possible with the club management, analyze the information, how everything works, [and] what are the priority needs.

“At the same time, we are solving problems in key areas of Spartak’s activities: sports, medical, commercial, infrastructure, security and corporate governance issues,” Matytsyn added.

Following those appointments, Ashworth’s new board and first competitive game will be Sunday’s away trip to Nizhny Novgorod in the Russian Premier League.


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