SINGAPORE: Singaporean tycoon Peter Lim has come under increasing fire from fans of La Liga side Valencia, who have taken to social media to demand that he relinquish ownership of the football club.
The hashtag #LimGoHome made the rounds again on Twitter after club head coach Marcelino was dismissed on Sep 11. The same hashtag has been used several times since Lim purchased Valencia in 2014.
Marcelino, 54, joined the club in 2017 with Valencia struggling after back-to-back 12th-placed finishes in La Liga.
But in both of his two full seasons at the helm, he led Los Ches to fourth spot and Champions League qualification, capping his stint with the Copa del Rey title last term - Valencia's first major trophy in 11 years.
According to Spanish reports, Marcelino claimed that the Copa del Rey win was the "trigger" for his dismissal. His decision to ignore instructions to "discount" Copa del Rey, which he said was considered "minor tournament", did not sit well with management.
"They didn't tell me why they didn't want the Copa, only that it was a minor tournament and that I could be putting the main goal (Champions League qualification) at risk. Winning the Copa was the trigger for this situation," Marcelino was cited by Spanish sports newspaper Diario AS as saying at a press conference on Friday.
Valencia president Anil Murthy did not respond to CNA's queries on Marcelino's dismissal.
Former Spain Under-21s manager Albert Celades has since taken the helm of the Los Che.
Celades will have to deal with morale on the team, with defender Ezequiel Garay posting on Instagram that Marcelino's sacking was not fair.
This is not the first time that Lim has come under a barrage of criticism from Valencia fans.
The Singaporean's takeover was supposed to herald a new era for the club after years of financial hardship, in part caused by the Spanish property crash while they were building a new stadium and training ground.
Lim's millions and connections to Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes promised to clear the club's vast debt, complete the move to a new stadium and offer the financial muscle needed to compete for trophies.
But with the club underperforming domestically, fans took to the streets in 2017 to protest Lim's ownership, following Valencia's 4-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey.
Valencia, who are six-time La Liga champions, currently sit 13th in the league, with one win in four games.
Their next game will be against English giants Chelsea on Sep 18 (Singapore time) in the group stages of the Champions League.