Russian football giants unveil Englishman in key role
Spartak Moscow have confirmed Paul Ashworth’s appointment
Spartak Moscow have appointed experienced Brit Paul Ashworth as their new sporting director, as confirmed by the Russian Premier League giants on Monday.
The news was revealed on the club’s website and social media, with Spartak noting that Ashworth’s “excellent knowledge of the Russian language played an important role” in his appointment as well as “extensive professional experience.”
“We welcome Paul Ashworth and wish him success in his work for the benefit of Spartak!” the club added.
Ashworth, 52, is familiar with Russian football after working in the same role at FC Rostov in 2005.
When manager Gennady Stepushkin was undergoing treatment, he stepped in as acting head coach and commanded the southern Russian club.
Официально: Пол Эшуорт – спортивный директор «Спартака» ⚪
52-летний англичанин, который обладает большим профессиональным опытом и владеет русским языком, приступил к выполнению своих обязанностей.
Welcome, Paul! pic.twitter.com/y7zRJrZapZ
— ФК «Спартак-Москва» (@fcsm_official) September 26, 2022
Ashworth’s career has taken in assignments further afield in Nigeria, where he told The Athletic he was once held hostage for “four or five hours” by 50 young men at the Sunshine Stars FC’s stadium, and Latvia.
His most accomplished work took place in Kazakhstan as Astana’s CEO and sporting director.
In a successful 18-month tenure, Ashworth oversaw the club’s arrival into the Europa League, where they achieved a historic group-stage win over Manchester United in 2019.
Ashworth’s appointment at Spartak had been expected in Russia after CEO Evgeny Melezhikov declared that the club would soon have a new foreign sports director.
Ten days ago, Championat said it had spoken to sources familiar with the situation who told them that Ashworth would fly to Moscow and sign a contract with one of the biggest clubs in the country.
Ashworth has been unveiled in the Russian capital just under a week later, and at a moment of general change at Spartak.
The Muscovites are the most successful domestic team of all time in Russia with 22 top-tier titles, but currently lie fifth in the top flight on 19 points and seven points behind leaders and reigning champions Zenit.
Russian energy company Lukoil acquired total control of Spartak last month and confirmed that long-serving president Leonid Fedun would step down as it attempts to “reinforce Spartak’s competitive position and lead to new victories.”
Melezhikov vowed that “there will be big changes at Spartak”, and on the same day Ashworth’s appointment was announced, Spartak further revealed the club had elected its new board of directors including “top managers” from Lukoil.
Lukoil’s vice-president Aleksandr Matytsyn will head the board and is joined by “experts in the financial, legal, and corporate governance areas” including Pavel Zhdanov, Ivan Maslyaev, and Evgeny Khavkin, as confirmed by Matytsyn to TASS.
Melezhikov will keep his role as general director of the club, as Sergey Rodionov is president of the Spartak Academy and Oleg Malyshev and Yusuf Alekperov are independent directors.
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“Our first priority is to create a more transparent collegial mechanism for decision-making and allocation of funding,” Matytsyn said.
“When implementing it, 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’s management, analyze the information, how everything works, [and] what the priority needs are.
“At the same time, we are resolving issues in key areas of Spartak’s activities: sports, medical, commercial, infrastructure, security and corporate governance issues,” Matytsyn added.
Following these appointments, the new board and Ashworth’s first competitive match will be Sunday’s away trip to Nizhny Novgorod in the Russian Premier League.