Sergei Galitsky made money by creating a chain of Russian supermarkets Sergei Galitsky made money by creating a chain of Russian supermarkets

In the era of super clubs, the Champions League reached new territory on Wednesday when Chelsea arrived in southern Russia.

Their rivals, FC Krasnodar, rise to the top under their own steam, but they are a club with a unique curve.

Under the Russian Empire, the Krasnodar region was a border area. It’s quieter in Krasnodar these days.

At least until Chelsea lands.

This match, the first in the history of the Champions League meeting of the home team of the club, is a sale – within the limits of Kovida-19 approved by the Russian authorities. With a phenomenal and not heartless effort, the young club, which was only founded in 2008, has transformed itself into a competitive outfit at this level.

Behind her is the control arm of a single tramp. The founder of the supermarket chain Magnit, Sergei Galitsky, is left alone in the community of Russian billionaires.

While most of the country’s super-rich made money buying Russia’s mineral resources at the beginning of the USSR, Galitsky, 53, built its national retail business the old-fashioned way, working hard and innovating.

This is an important difference in the eyes of the population, who suffered hardship during the 1990s as the oligarchic class appropriated the country’s natural wealth.

A Russian businessman, who asked not to mention his name, summed up the rise of Galicia: An oligarch is by definition someone who uses his political connections to make money.

Galytsky’s different. He’s not an oligarch, he created himself. In 1998 he opened a cheap grocery store in Krasnodar. At that time there was no modern retail network in Russia and the Galitsky model was a great success.

Krasnodar was founded ten years later, in 2008, after reaching the first phase of the Russian third phase. The motives were simple: the owner’s love of the game and the desire to build something that would bring long-term benefits to his home region.

Remy Cabella (right) becomes one of the best-known players among the English supporters of the Krasnodar-club, which has played 31 Premier League games for Newcastle. Remy Cabella (right) becomes one of the best known players among the English supporters of the Krasnodar club, which has played 31 Premier League matches for Newcastle.

They soon won two shares and benefited from Galitsky’s wise investments, while the established club shuddered in the light of the uncertain financial ecology of Russian football.

Since then, the race has been characterized by slow and confident victories. Krasnodar rebuilt their club from scratch, left the hunt for a large foreign signing behind in favor of large but established investments in infrastructure and made his first appearance in the Champions League last week with a 1-1 tie in Rennes.

They may have built the best training base in the world, says former Krasnodar striker Jura Movsisyan.

That’s very good. Everything up to medical facilities, the recovery of the players – everything you can dream of in the top club, which Galitsky had already built when Krasnodar was two or three years old.

Galitsky is one of four private clubs in Russia. It is not a football ecosystem that brings financial benefits, but success is achieved by supporting important public interests, such as those of the oil giant Gazprom in Zenit in St Petersburg.

But when the cynical Russians celebrated Zenit’s defeat in the 2-1 Champions League in Bruges last week, Krasnodar Galitsky became the second most popular team of all. It’s a little miracle like, according to Movsisyan: Galicki knows the name of every player in the academy. That’s hundreds of kids. He’s unique.

The set objective is a one-day field XI, consisting exclusively of academics. It may be a solution, but the club has been very successful among the Russian youth. In 2018 they won the title of National Champion under the age of 18 and in the 16th round of the competition they won the title of National Champion. In the second round of the UEFA Youth League, Real Madrid organised a penalty kick in the modern Krasnodar stadium for 35 thousandths of the spectators.

I don’t want [Thomas] Touchel or other foreigners, said Galitsky in an interview in 2018, quoting the German director of Paris Saint-Germain. Instead he left that summer for the man who led the youth team to this club with Real, a resident of Krasnodar, and brought out Murad Musayev.

Moussaev led the youth and reserve team in Krasnodar Moussaev led the youth and reserve team in Krasnodar

Musayev represents everything Galitsky talks about. Young – started his coaching career in 2005 at only 22 years of age – locally, and entirely a product of the infrastructure of Krasnodar, a special relationship between the manager and the owner.

Working with him is a great honour, but also a great responsibility, Musayev said. He will argue with you on all points and let you defend your opinion. During a match he can talk about physical training, sentences or certain passages. He has a phenomenal understanding of football and business.

The pace of change – from the regional leagues to the Champions League for all 12 seasons – surprised everyone except those who saw it from the inside. Former striker Movsisyan, who left the club for Spartak Moscow in 2012, has never seen anything like it.

Normally changes happen in a club every two or three years – it’s an evolutionary cycle, he said. In Krasnodar everything changes every month. They were constantly learning and carrying out this training.

Against Chelsea, they’ll have a chance to show the world how far they’ve come.

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