Anton Part Two: 'I go to bed thinking about Reading FC'By Jonny Fordham
February 11, 2013
Reading owner Anton Zingarevich sat down for a one-to-one interview with the Post’s Royals reporter Jonny Fordham to look back at his first 12 months in the Madejski Stadium hot seat.
What’s your emotional attachment to the club?
I’m blessed with the club I have purchased because all the right things are here already. Reading is everything that is right about football.
I want to make sure I am looking after it and adding to it in a good way. You can do many different things in different ways and there are many examples of that.
You have the Man City and Chelsea examples, which is good because they have big ambitions, but that is easy. You just splash out cash and at the end you will get there.
We want to do it in a sensible way and the Financial Fair Play rules are there and we need to make sure we are doing it in the right way and that I am looking after the club’s interest. I’m the owner, but the club needs to be self-sustainable.
Sir John Madejski has been here 23 years, could you see yourself being here at Reading for that long?
For sure. I’m still young and I will be younger than him after 22 years too!
I’m in this for the long-term and it is a project for me that I really want to build on, get to the next level and do as well as Sir John has achieved.
What he has achieved is fantastic and I want to get this club to where I want it to be, which is in Europe.
How much have you learned from Sir John?
He has all the experience and when I have a question, I will go to him. He has been here all these years and knows all about it and still cares.
That’s why I really want him to stick around. He still enjoys it and it is part of his heart.
Sir John is really closely associated with this club and the fans love him.
We are working together. He is the chairman and I am the owner, but there is no friction in the relationship.
Can you imagine he will be here beyond 2014?
It is up to him, but I want him to be here – definitely. We agreed when I took over that he will remain as chairman until 2014, but I have nothing against him being chairman, I enjoy it.
Is the agreement for the full sale of the club on September 13 still in place?
We are sticking to it. It will go through.
How much of your own time is consumed by Reading?
I go to bed, I think about the club – things we can do, things we have done. It’s with me all the time. I’m not here all the time, that’s hard.
Were there times earlier in the season when you had a few sleepless nights?
It wasn’t easy for me because I joined when we were on the up and every game was important to us for promotion. Then I had the other side of the coin when this season started with results not going our way.
It was an emotional time. But right now we are comfortable with where we are. Me, Nick and Brian are all on the same page and looking to go forward.
Is Nick’s contract up this summer?
No – we signed a new three-year contract with him last summer. We are a team working well together.
Every single one of us needs to develop professionally in the Premier League. What we have is the principles what we want to work towards and experience.
Stability in football, that’s priceless?
It’s important. I always said that in terms of the manager he has the qualities to become a top coach in the future. Money can’t buy that.
You either have it or you don’t. And our manager has the ability to make sure everything is about the group and that is something we are all trying to be a part of.
Would living in England be a possibility for you?
At some point, probably. But right now I can’t afford to do that because I have other businesses in Russia that I am working on so I can’t spend all my time here.
What businesses are they?
I’m working with the family related businesses as well as a few investment companies. I’m also working on my own engineering business – that’s why I can’t stay here all the time.
Would you invest in local businesses in Reading?
Maybe. Right now, I’m just focusing on doing good here until the end of the season.
If the club goes down, what would happen?
I’m sure we will not go down. Nothing will change if we did, we will just come up next year.
Do you enjoy interacting with the fans? Sir John often walks around the stadium before games, would you?
I do. I met a lot of them at the end of last season. I don’t want to be in the fans’ faces all the time.
Would you say you’re quite a private person? What about when you see yourself on Match of the Day?
I am. It’s all related to football and I’m fine with doing interviews.
How many people in Russia are Reading fans?
Well, with the latest wins, everybody is noticing us. People know that our team never gives up and plays to the last minute.
Alex Pearce, is he going to sign a new contract?
We are trying to get it done and he is playing all the time. Mostly it is up to him, but he has promised me he will sign, so we will see.
The fans see him as a future club captain?
He’s come through our Academy. That’s the spirit of the club. You can buy all the players from around the world, but it’s really important to have players like Alex and keep them as a big part of this club.
Would Reading look to have a feeder partnership with other clubs?
I think the partner club model has been tried, but not really proven successful. We will work with regions, definitely. That is something that we want to do in the future. In Europe everyone knows it.
But South America, Africa and Asia – those are areas with vast amounts of people who love football.
The infrastructure is not really there, but the talent is. That is something in the long term we want to help with.
Which is why the Academy needs to be upgraded to bring the best young players from all over the world to help develop them.