Forza Futbol

A Better Lens at Spanish Football

 

 

 

 

It should have been the start of something big and in a way it was. Valencia had just won the league; little did they know that they would be the last team who weren’t part of the top two to do so. Rafa Benitez walked around the pitch and showed the just won UEFA Cup to fans. This was goodbye from him as he had decided that enough was enough and that he was leaving Valencia.

 

It was the being of the end for Valencia. Yes they would add a Copa del Rey and yes they would qualify for the Champions League spots but gone were the days when a player in demand would choose them over the likes of Barca because Valencia were the in form side. Sloppy signings was one of the reasons for Benitez’s departure and he famously said of his director of football, Jesús Pitarch, ‘I would ask for a sofa, he would get me a lamp.’ Pitarch would then leave Valencia and go to Atlético and waste that club’s money too.

 

Valencia is a very different place 11 years later. Each year they have to sell their top players just to try and balance the books. They have two stadiums and two training grounds. One of each is run down and in desperate need of repair and the other is just an abandoned building site. The Nou Mestalla was seen as a new beginning and as the property bubble grew, it seemed like a good idea but bubbles burst and Valencia have paid a heavy price. The Nou Mestalla was started in 2007 and lies unfinished. In 2011 an agreement with the Spanish Bank, Bankia was agreed that would see the bank pay for the rest of the works with some conditions. Then in September, with the bank having to ask the Government for a Bailout, Bankia said the deal was off. Now things have taken another turn.

 

Former Valencia Politician Francisco Camps has made a lot of headlines lately. In the height of the Spanish property boom he was seen as a great example of a leader. Charming, suave and intelligent it seemed that nothing could stop him. Nothing but an investigation into kickbacks. Camps, a Valencia fan, once looked like a Teflon Premier, nothing could stick, but now more and more stories were emerging and the writing was on the wall, it was time to go but not before one final last act. Using the Valencia Finance Institute he guaranteed the loans not only taken out by Valencia in recent years but Herculés and Elche too. Levante also took out a loan but are planning on paying it back. Villarreal refused a loan but got €20m over 5 years in sponsorship from the Castellon Airport. Before you try to fly there, stop! After millions spent on the airport, to date not one plane has landed or taken off from it!

 

On Sunday it was announced that with Valencia unable to pay back its loans that the regional government would now become its maximum shareholder. That means that the Generalitat has had to take around 70% of the club’s shares. They have also taken over 65% of Herculés and 45% of Elche. The league says that one entity cannot have shares in more than one team. This rule became very famous when Real Madrid bought shares in Real Oviedo and then donated them to the regional government but here we have the people of Valencia now the proud owners of three clubs.

 

In a country that has one of Europe’s highest unemployment rates and is cutting public spending like there is no tomorrow, sympathy for football clubs has long gone. Across the country health clinics and hospitals protest at government plans to privatise Health. Education has also seen some sharp cuts and football was supposed to be a way to relax. Now it is another thing for people to worry about as the local government play with their money. On Sunday the faced Real Madrid and how did the players rewards their new employers’?

 

At half time on Sunday Real Madrid walked in after an impressive first half. They had mopped the floor with Valencia. It was 5-0 and they were cruising. Angel de Maria put in a great performance and said ‘that will shut some people up’ but it seems that after this weekend’s news, it will only getting them talking more.

 

 

Around the Grounds

 

So it turns out they are mortal and it also turns out that you can’t send Andres Iniesta off, even if he does nearly take a players leg off, twice. Pique on the other hand can be sent off. Down to ten men, La Real took advantage of Barca’s misery and came from behind. Valdés is taking a lot of slack for saying he wants to leave, further evidence that some fans are just ungrateful morons but the truth was that Barca messed up and Real Sociedad capitalised on it. Still ahead by 8 points.

 

Behind them is Atlético de Madrid who continue to set records. Equallizing a home record of consecutive wins at home, a record that has stood for 70 years and also setting a new record of minutes without conceding at home, good times at the Calderon. Catching Barca may be a step too far but taking 2nd may be a realistic target now.

 

Mallorca lost the Friday game as under Aguirre Espanyol continue to climb. Simao put Los Pericos ahead but Mallorca equalised and took the lead but then lost their keeper to injury. With 6 minutes to go Baena scored the winner, pushing his side up to 15th.

 

Getafe welcomed Unai Emery back to La Liga with a full house. No just kidding, another poorly attended game ended in a 1-1 draw. Granada beat Rayo at home, Celta got an important point against Málaga and Osasuna got three very important points against fellow strugglers Deportivo. Valladolid continue to impress at home, beating Zaragoza 2-0.

 

 

Garreth Nunn On January - 22 - 2013

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