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Football: 'A bankrupt club is not a better club,' says Valencia owner Peter Lim

To build sustainable club and keep it growing takes time, say Valencia's top management.

Football: 'A bankrupt club is not a better club,' says Valencia owner Peter Lim

Singaporean businessman Peter Lim (C), owner of Spanish La Liga football team Valencia and his wife Cherie Lim (R) speak with Valencia's president Anil Murthy AFP/THOMAS SAMSON

SINGAPORE: "A bankrupt club is not a better club," said Valencia's Singaporean billionaire owner Peter Lim in a statement issued on the club's website on Saturday (Aug 15).

The statement, signed off by Valencia president and former Singaporean diplomat Anil Murthy, came amid growing backlash from fans, who for the past few months have repeatedly called for Lim to leave. 

After the 2019 to 2020 season in which the club finished ninth, head coach Albert Celades - the sixth permanent coach in Lim's six years at the club - was dismissed, leaving fans up in arms. 

Earlier this month, supporters' group Salvem Nostre Valencia (Let's Save Our Valencia) called for a protest outside the club's stadium as the club sold two of its top midfielders, including captain Dani Parejo.

READ: Commentary - Peter Lim’s romance with owning a football club appears in trouble

In the statement, Valencia's top management said one of the biggest concerns among the club's shareholders was the "growing size of debt in 2018/19 and 2019/20, mainly due to the signing of players and the related costs".

"They are right, and we listened to them," the statement read.  

The management said that in 2017 and 2018, after nearly a decade, Valencia had started paying back the banks, who were "finally happy" and "trusted that this version of Valencia CF would be sustainable". 

The following year, the club saw its "greatest ever income in history" and won its first trophy in 11 years, beating Barcelona in a historic battle in the Copa del Rey.

"However, it was not a sustainable method. We could not just keep on spending," said the statement. "We already had 30-plus players in the squad, loaning out some to make space for more signings. 

"We were again trying to offload young promising players from the VCF Academy from the squad to make space for others - regardless of their future value for the club.

"This had to end and so we ended it. We stopped this strategy and cut our losses before we got too far into trouble," the statement added.

"You would have to be a fool to continue on the path of spending without thinking about how the club are going to pay," the club said. 

"We finished ninth this past season. We are not in the Champions League. So we have to rebuild. This is neither the beginning, nor the end. We must learn from the past. Pushing to have a 'big stadium and big name players, winning La Liga and the Champions League at all cost' will lead to a repeat of the past," said the club. 

WILL DO "EVERYTHING POSSIBLE" TO KEEP CLUB GOING IN PANDEMIC

Valencia's top management addressed two issues in the statement, indicating "full transparency". 

Firstly, it said that cost - and players - needed to be reduced for the "obvious reason" that Valencia was not in the Champions League and only had La Liga to compete in. 

Secondly, the impact of COVID-19 "will be serious for the next two seasons", said the club. 

At Valencia, financial impact will be seen in various ways, including an up to 30 per cent drop in TV rights money, a drop of 50 per cent in commercial income and the likely reduction of total income by half, said the club.

READ: Commentary - Love for the game? Is owning a football club worth the trouble?

"In this situation, we will do everything possible to keep the club going," said the leaders, adding they will lower salaries, "which means selling players with two years or less remaining on their contracts, with higher wages". 

Some players are also getting older and are prone to injury, hence the club should not keep them, they added. 

They also said they will keep investing in the VCF Academy talents and "bring them through". 

In the statement, the club clarified that Ferran Torres, who moved to Manchester City last week, had chosen to leave "despite being offered one of the best salaries on the team". 

It also clarified its plan for Valencia's Mestalla Stadium, saying it would not "sell all of our players to build a new stadium". 

READ: Valencia confirm two positive tests for coronavirus

"We had everything prepared, but it fell through," according to the statement. "We are working on it again. In the meantime, we have met all our payment obligations, of more than £1 million a year, under the ATE. 

"Now, with the current economic climate during the COVID-19 pandemic, investors are waiting. But many are asking about the project. We will continue to work with the Generalitat and the Ayuntamiento on this important project for the city. And we will find a solution to the new stadium situation," it said. 

The Valencia management said they were "committed to building a sustainable club and to keep it growing". 

"This takes time."

Source: CNA/hs

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