Russian businessman to sell off stake in football club Vitesse
Russian businessman Valeriy Oyf has agreed to sell his ownership stake in Dutch football club Vitesse. The 58-year-old has owned a percentage of the Arnhem team since 2010, and became the majority shareholder in 2018. On Friday, he also resigned from the club's supervisory board.
Oyf has close ties to Roman Abramovich, who also decided to sell his ownership of English football club Chelsea. Oyf did not mention the sanctions imposed on Russia as being the reason for the sale, but it was already clear last month that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was being discussed internally. Initially, the team released a statement saying that it was financially stable, and the sanctions were not likely to affect the team. Last week, it put out a statement saying the team was "deeply shocked by the horrifying situation in Ukraine."
"It pains me a lot to say goodbye to Vitesse, but in the current situation I am making this difficult decision in the interest of the club, employees, supporters, sponsors and other stakeholders," Oyf said on Friday. "I look back on a special period, in which I always felt very involved with the club and enjoyed the great performances. Vitesse is in my heart, and that will always apply to the club and the supporters."
Vitesse said that the sale of Oyf's shares would be carefully planned out so that the team is not effected by the changes. Although the team downplayed the issue, Oyf has spent millions of euros to cover team shortfalls every year, the Telegraaf reported. The businessman's stake in the team is held in a limited company with 132 million euros in debt, most of which is owed to Oyf himself, the newspaper said.
The team itself is valued at a maximum of 25 million euros. Vitesse is currently in the UEFA Conference League Round of 16, and lost its first leg against Roma on Thursday. The second leg is on March 17. It is also in sixth place in the Eredivisie, and was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the KNVB Cup last month.
Vitesse was founded in 1892, but has never won the Eredivisie, though they were the runner-up five times before 1915. The team took the KNVB Cup for the 2016-17 season, and won the Eerste Divisie twice and the Tweede Divisie once.