Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are Valencia CF the next AIG/Lehman/Bear/Northern Rock/WaMu/Wachovia/RBS/Anglo Irish Bank/etc....?

As the global economy continues to descend further into the mire, the football world has remained relatively insulated thanks to long term TV deals and billionaire investment (mostly in English clubs). That may all be about to change. Valencia, who are reported to be in debt to the tune of 450 million euros (!!!!), are essentially insolvent and have stopped paying players.

The club is reportedly 15 million euros in arrears to the players, who have taken it out on management by absolutely tanking on the pitch. Valencia lost last weekend to relegation-bound Numancia, haven't won since the beginning of February, and have fallen down to 8th place in La Liga. The new CEO, who was brought in to clean up the mess by the club's chief creditor, told Sky Sports that Valencia would have to consider selling David Villa and David Silva.

"The club has to control spending, grow income and sell assets.

"Selling Silva and Villa? Obviously we will consider that type of action. We have to control costs, and the biggest cost in a football club is maintaining a team."

The proximate cause for the Valencia's problems, as Sid Lowe was talking about on the Guardian Podcast on Monday, is debt taken out to finance the construction of a new stadium (on which work has been halted) to replace La Mestalla, as well as a new training ground. The plan was that the club were going to sell land around the old stadium to pay off the debt. Given the shambolic state of the Spanish property market these days, such a happy outcome is unlikely at best. As Sid notes:
Between 2000 and 2004, Valencia reached two Champions League finals, won two league titles and the Uefa Cup. Then along came Juan Bautista Soler, football's very own Brian Potter. Four years later, Valencia had boasted five sporting directors, three director generals, three medical chiefs, three ostracised footballers, a day in court against their own captain, and no trophies. The club's debt had risen from €125m to over €400m, €17m each had gone on Nikola Zigic, Manuel Fernandes, and Ever Banega and over €30m was spent paying off Claudio Ranieri, Quique Sánchez Flores and Ronald Koeman. But there was always the pelotazo – develop the land upon which the training ground and Mestalla stood. Valencia would sell up, move somewhere better, and make a fortune. "We're going to be the envy of Spain," Soler said.

There was just one tiny flaw in the plan: it was rubbish. The property bubble that propped up the Spanish economy burst; economic crisis hit harder than anywhere else, leaving three million unemployed, two million new homes empty, hundreds of thousands of buildings half-finished, and Spanish football clubs owing the taxman over €600m.

Sid goes on to speculate that Valencia are in real danger of getting relegated, which reeks of what happened to Leeds United, although this implosion would be even swifter. Liverpool and others circling around David Villa - currently injured - would be advised to lowball. As an Arsenal supporter, I thank god that the club didn't decide to build Emirates stadium five years later. Liverpool (a 350 million pound loan coming due in four months) and Manchester United (600 million pounds in total debt, in search of a new shirt sponsor) might not be breathing so easily, however. Too bad none of these clubs can apply for bail out money from the US Treasury.


The Fan's Attic said...

I would be really bummed if Valencia ceased to exist or just went down into the depths of Spanish soccer because they have a really cool club crest.

phil said...

This should intensify rumors of Villa to 'Pool, no?

Lingering Bursitis said...

I certainly hope so, Phil.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Naturally, we'd like to take David Silva as well k thx by

The Fan's Attic said...

yes, but they are far from realistic considering LFC couldn't even afford to keep Robbie Keane. the only way they come to fruition is if LFC gets a Middle Eastern sugar daddy.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Do you not read the papers, TFA? We'll have one of those soon. Hicks is close to bumping Gillett off the island, and the Kuwaitis are still sniffing around despite rumours of them walking away.

David Villa and David Silva. Poor Valencia. They're not far away from being plundered like a British colony.

The Fan's Attic said...

Yeah, didn't they have these rumors of a Dubai syndicate last year as well? That turned out well. I'll believe it when I see it.

phil said...

Villa alone would be great for 'Pool; Villa and Silva would be an epic coup.