A sixth place finish in La Liga and a place in next season’s Europa League may be satisfying on the face of things. But a limp end to the season, discontentment on the terraces, and growing financial problems only darkened the thick storm clouds already lurking above Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium.
Their long-standing money troubles look to be coming to a head this summer, with the crippling costs of their new stadium taking its toll.
President Vicente Soriano, who only took office last July, has resigned after admitting he couldn’t put a business plan in place that would safeguard the clubs financial future.
The club have been spiralling into financial meltdown for a few years now, mainly stemming from the attempt to build a new stadium. Initially seen as a bid to maximise match day revenue, the 200 million Euro project has proved to be a deadly millstone around their necks as it became financially unmanageable.
Soriano tried to sell land surrounding Valencia’s current stadium, the 55,000 capacity Mestalla, to help financial the move. But the global economic slowdown plunged Spain into recession meaning buyers dried up.
As finances worsened and debts mounted, the two-time Champions League finalists temporarily suspended payments to players and to the company constructing the stadium in February, meaning building work was stopped altogether. The Spanish media now report that Valencia’s debts total £400 million.
A 50 million Euro loan from a local business group in April eased some of the pressure and at least allowed them to pay their players. But it appears only to be a temporary let-off, with the sale of the clubs star players surely imminent in order to keep the club afloat
They are problems that belay Valencia’s status as one of the biggest clubs in Spain. They have won six La Liga titles, Seven Copa Del Rey’s, two Spanish Super Cups, a UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup-winners cup and two UEFA Super Cups. Valencia is the third biggest city in Spain and Los Che are often positioned just behind Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain’s pecking order.
But ever since they tumbled out of the 2006-2007 Champions League the club has been on a steep downward spiral. They finished last season in a lowly 10th place, which spelt the end of boss Ronald Koeman. Although this season was marginally better, the lack of Champions League money could force a fire-sale in the summer.
Three of those players include Juan Mata, David Silva and EURO 2008 golden boot winner David Villa, who will all surely be sold to European clubs who have been circulating around the Mestalla for several months now, like vultures hovering above a dead carcass. Indeed Villa has already stated his desire to play in the Champions League next season and has been linked with Real Madrid and Barcelona. It sad to see such a great club in such a desperate position.
Fans of English football will hold up the likes of Leeds United as an example of what can happen when a club over-stretches itself. The club reached a Champions League semi-final, against Valencia ironically enough, in 2001 but since then creditors demanded their cash back, players were sold and the club tumbled down two divisions. It is not unrealistic to suggest Valencia could succumb to a similar fate. Even with the sales of Villa and co, the burden of that half-built stadium will not loosen its grip. You wonder how far they will fall before they can start to recover.