Can Money buy AS Monaco the Success Billionaire Club Owner Rybolovlev Desires?

AS MonacoAS Monaco’s new star signing – Colombian striker Radamel Falcao – was presented to the media last week at the Salle Belle Époque of the Hôtel Hermitage Monte Carlo, saying he hopes to attract more fans to the Principality’s football stadium.

The signing has certainly raised some eyebrows, with a great deal of interest from major clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco seems an unusual choice for such a star player at the height of his career.  The news is even more surprising since having spent the last two seasons in League Two, AS Monaco will not be competing in European competition in 2013-2014.

Owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Monaco club paid Atletico Madrid an estimated 60 million euros for the player. Monaco have also signed Porto duo Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez, Malaga’s French star Jeremy Toulalan, Barcelona’s Eric Abidal and Real Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho, spending well in excess of £100million.

While most have been looking on in astonishment as world class players move to the small club, those local to Monaco will know that the mammoth wealth of the Russian could be the miracle the club needs to further its success.

In 2012, Rybolovlev was ranked #119 among Forbes billionaires, with a net worth of slightly more than seven billion euros. Amongst his assets stands the Maison de L’Amitie in Florida, real estate purchased from Donald Trump for 72.8 million euros. In December 2011, Rybolovlev’s daughter Ekaterina purchased a 10-room, 626 square meter apartment, overlooking Central Park in New York, the most expensive apartment to have been bought at that time, for 67.5 million euros.

With Rybolovlev buying luxury properties in Monaco, New York and Paris, super-sized yachts and private jets as well as the famous Greek island of Skorpios, he is probably the only man capable of making football fans all around the globe forget about Roman Abramovich.

The home of AS Monaco, Stade Louis II, was built in the early 1980s, close to the site of the old stadium on land reclaimed from the sea. Located in Fontvieille, an area overlooking the smaller of two ports in the Principality, the stadium is surrounded by some of the most prestigious real estate in Monaco. Stade Louis II has a capacity of approximately 18,500, which is quite large relative to the population of Monaco (about 36,371); it can seat almost two-thirds of the country’s population, a feat no other stadium can boast.

The surrounding area consists of luxurious residential buildings, offices, sports facilities and a shopping centre. There is a great deal of luxurious real estate for sale in Monaco.

It is hoped the club will now come close to filling the 18,500 capacity of Stade Louis II, which last season averaged only 5,295 per game. “It’ll be up to us, the players, to motivate people to come to the stadium, that there will be more and more of them and that they’ll be happy to come and see us,” said Falcao.

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