TBILISI -- The Georgian government plans to sell six state-owned soccer clubs at the symbolic price of 1 lari ($0.54) each, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.
Georgian Football Federation (GFF) President Zviad Sichinava said on July 14 that the plan is already under way. "The GFF handed over FC Torpedo Kutaisi to the Wissol oil company a month ago as part of a pilot program," Sichinava said.
He added that negotiations are being held with the mobile communications firm Geocell (controlled by TeliaSonera) and with Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR on the privatization of the Baia Zugdidi and Sioni Bolnisi soccer clubs, respectively.
Sichinava said other Georgian and international companies have also shown an interest in purchasing Georgian soccer teams.
Among them is Ras Al-Khaimah Investment Authorities, the United Arab Emirates-based owner of the Poti seaport, which is considering purchasing Kolkheti Poti FC.
Sichinava also said Georgian pharmaceutical companies Aversi and PSP, mobile phone operator MagtiCom, and Russian oil company LUKoil all want to buy soccer teams in Georgia's top league.
Investors are obliged to develop the club's infrastructure and training facilities, Sichinava said. Moreover, the new owners may not transform a soccer club into some other kind of facility.