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Russian parliament proposes shake-up for sports sponsorship market

Russian sport could be set for significant change after a new bill that would ban state-owned companies from sponsoring professional teams was introduced to the country’s lower house of parliament.

According to the R-Sport news agency, if the law is passed, it would prevent the likes of energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft –long-term financial supporters of sport in Russia – from investing in clubs.

Three of the top four teams in Russian football’s Premier League have state-owned owners or sponsors, but smaller clubs would also be affected, and FC Tomsk general director Artyom Fomenko has spoken out against the proposal.

“Limits on state companies would have a negative effect on the financing of professional sport – that is obvious,” he said. “We’re planning to increase the percentage of our own income, but it’s fairly difficult to do that and only possible to do it gradually, over the course of a fairly long time.”

Fomenko said that his club generates between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of its budget from Rosneft and Gazprom.

“There are owners of private companies who are fans of some sport or other,” Fomenko added. “But there aren’t that many companies at the moment in the Russian Federation with enough funds to support professional sport at a European level.”

R-Sport said that a ban on state company sponsorship would have less of an effect on ice hockey, where most Russian teams are owned by regional governments exempt from the bill’s provisions.

However, leading clubs SKA St. Petersburg and CSKA Moscow would be affected as they are owned by Gazprom and Rosneft respectively.