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CSKA strike it rich with oil giant

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MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Russian champions CSKA Moscow signed a $54 million three-year sponsorship deal with oil giant Sibneft (SIBN.RTS) on Wednesday.

"Hopefully, we would become twice as strong with such a partner," said CSKA president Yevgeny Giner, a friend of ex-Sibneft boss and billionaire Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Sibneft, Russia's fifth largest oil company, has pledged $18m a year through 2006 to become the club's title sponsor.

The big three Moscow clubs, CSKA, Spartak and Dynamo, are now sponsored by Russian oil giants.

Spartak is backed by LUKOIL, while Dynamo, the former police club, have been sponsored by YUKOS.

Abramovich, a Russian tycoon who has ploughed millions of pounds into Premier League club Chelsea, was among Giner's guests at his VIP box during CSKA's last two matches.

However, when asked if the Chelsea chief has had any ties with the current deal, Giner and Sibneft president Yevgeny Shvidler declined to comment.

Giner said that CSKA's budget for 2004 was $20 million.

"That is just running expenses," the CSKA boss told Reuters.

"We're not including transfer fees here because it's impossible to put the dollar figure right now on how much we're planning to spend this year on player transfers."

Giner has spent millions of dollars in recent years to revamp his club.

He broke the Russian league's transfer record twice last year, first signing Czech midfielder Jiri Jarosik from Sparta Prague for $3.7m and then acquiring Croatia striker Ivica Olic from Dinamo Zagreb for $5.73m.

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