In an interview with Nice-Matin, Russian billionaire and AS Monaco President Dmitry Rybolovlev looks back on the reasons that led him to buy the Monegasque football club in 2011 as well as the highs and lows of the past decade. Usually reserved and discrete, the Club’s President doesn’t hide his enthusiasm when talking about football.

Dmitry Rybolovlev’s dream remains intact. When asked what his objective was when he bought ASM nearly ten years ago, the businessman humbly admitted that he wanted to first “return to Ligue 1 and occupy a decent position there” and, in the long-term, “win the French championship title”. He has not forgotten, however, the real reason for this takeover. A goal that may seem somewhat ambitious at first glance but, on closer inspection, is perhaps not so unattainable: “I also had a dream of one day winning the Champions League, and that’s not changed.”

AS Monaco are the only team to have beaten Paris Saint Germain since 2013.

Dmitry Rybolovlev

With good reason, too. In less than a decade, Rybolovlev and his team have managed to reinvent a club that many said was lacking genuine direction when he bought it. “We’ve gone even further than the goals we set. A Ligue 2 title, Champions League semi-final and quarter-final appearances, as well as five straight seasons on the podium. We also reached the League Cup final twice and we, of course, won the French Championship title. AS Monaco are the only team to have beaten Paris Saint Germain since 2013,” the Russian magnate recalled with a clear touch of pride.

Avid enthusiast of The Beautiful Game, Dmitry Rybolovlev took advantage of the spotlight given to him by Nice-Matin, talking about his “education” as a football fan, as well as the best matches he has attended all over the world. “I have read a lot on the subject, I’ve seen many matches on television and in stadiums across the globe. After all these years the emotional games stick with me: Boca Juniors versus River Plate in the Bombonera, the Manchester derby, el Clásico between Real-Barca, a match between Real and Atletico. I’ve been to several Champions League finals and semi-finals.”

When asked about his highlight from the last few years, he instinctively recalled a particular home game against Arsenal in 2015. “After conceding the second goal, it was so hard to watch that I had to leave the stand and go sit in the box. I couldn’t keep watching. That’s the only time I’ve ever felt like that. Arsenal were close to scoring their third goal and qualifying. Thanks to Subasic and the whole team, we were able to hold it together. It was a very tense game. Definitely one of the highlights.”

Unfortunately, at some point I had to delegate too much regarding managing the Club.

Dmitry Rybolovlev

For Rybolovlev, the most challenging period for ASM was during the 2018/2019 season. “Unfortunately, at some point I had to delegate too much regarding managing the Club. (…) At first, I didn’t see it as a big issue, but the more I looked into the Club’s situation, the more I realised how severe it was. (…) I had to regain some control and correct the mistakes which had arisen in various areas of the Club.”

The most painful moment for the Russian owner was undoubtedly “the decision to dismiss Vadim Vasilyev” who “did a lot for AS Monaco. When he was in office, the Club was very successful. It was our shared success. Then he made serious mistakes in the Club’s management.”

As for his relations with the Grimaldi family, Rybolovlev was quick to dismiss any allegations which may have arisen in previous months.  The businessman dispensed with rumours of a “cold war” with the Palace and claimed to have “normal working relations” with the Princely family. He specified that “we shared many victories together in the box at the Stade Louis-II (…) We also shared the more difficult times together. We meet and discuss any changes needed. During these years, we have always received the support of His Highness.”

In addition, the ASM president declared the start of “a new chapter” in the Club’s history, “the desire to seek new successes” and to feel again the pride of victories.

It’s not just a financial investment, it’s also a lot of time, effort and emotion.

Dmitry Rybolovlev

He has certainly demonstrated that ASM occupies an important place in his life. “AS Monaco represents a large part of me and my life. I have been responsible for this for almost nine years. It’s not just a financial investment, it’s also a lot of time, effort and emotion.”

And what of the rumours about selling ASM? Rybolovlev took the opportunity to deny categorically any reported desires to sell the Club. “I know that there are sometimes rumours about my intentions to sell Monaco. We’ve always denied them; I believe in the Club’s sporting project. I’m still the shareholder and President of the Club. I take care of its development and invest in its future.” That should put an end to any rumours and allow the Club, its players and staff to concentrate on what matters most — winning new titles.