Posts Tagged Valencia

Liverpool Boss Rafael Benitez Leaves by Mutual Consent

Liverpool FC have announced that Rafael Benitez has left the club by mutual consent. The Spaniard succeeded Gerard Houllier at the english premier league club 6 years ago in June 2004. In 2005, his very first season at Liverpool, Rafael Benitez lead the club to Champions League success followed by an FA cup in 2006. He became the first manager in Liverpool’s illustrious history to win major trophies in his first 2 seasons. American businessmen, Tom Hicks and George Gillette took over the club in 2007 marking a new era for Liverpool FC and Benitez. The new owners were quick to back Benitez and Liverpool returned to the finals of the Champions League in 2007 but this time lost to AC Milan.

The fans however were getting impatient and wanted desperately to win the Premier League title back from their fierce rivals Manchester United. The owners made funds available for Benitez so he could deliver the Premier League. A record £26.5m pounds were spent to bring spanish striker Fernando Torres to the club but the premier league title eluded the Anfield faithful.

Last season Liverpool went out in the group stages of the Champions League and finished 7th in the league table, denying them Champions League football this season. Benitez’s tactics on the field as well as his transfer dealings including the £20m spent on the rarely used Robbie Keane and £20m on an injured Alberto Aquilani started to frustrate the fans and friction between the owners and Benitez became more and more public. However, it seems that falling out of the top 4 is what ultimately caused Benitez to lose his job.

Benitez, who had four years left of his five year contract to run, resigned after accepting a severance payment said that he was “extremely sad” to be leaving the club. The former Valencia manager had in the recent months been linked with a move to Juventus and Real Madrid.  The posts at both these clubs have been recently filled since and it seems likely that Rafael Benitez might fill the spot left vacant by Jose Mourinho at at this year’s European Champions Inter Milan.

Liverpool FC which in debt to the tune of £351m and was put up on sale by it owners now focuses on finding a successor to Rafael Benitez. Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill, Fulham boss Roy Hodgeson as well as former Chelsea manager Gus Hiddink have all been linked with the job. The search for a new manager however could be hindered by the uncertainty surrounding the Liverpool FC’s future ownership and its precarious financial condition.

Article first published as Liverpool Boss Rafael Benitez Leaves by Mutual Consent on Technorati.

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Barcelona and Real Madrid – Saviours or Destroyers of La Liga?

La Liga is one of the football’s most exciting domestic leagues. So it is easy to see how the news of the indebtedness of the league in which footballing giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona play would make a football fan cringe.

According to a study carried out by Professor Jose Maria Gay of the University of Barcelona, it was revealed that La Liga’s debts have grown and at are at an all time high of  €3.53 billion (£3.03 billion) this year.

The study also revealed that of the 20 clubs that play in La Liga,  the  top two clubs in terms of exposure and income – Real Madrid and Barcelona – and the relegated Numacia made an operating profit.

The reason for this imbalance it seems are player wages, which are said to have made up  85% of the total operating cost of the clubs. In many clubs like Valencia, Sevilla and Atlético Madrid the outgoings on wages were way higher than the income.

The issue of  player wages driving clubs into debt becomes increasingly disturbing when you hear about Barcelona latest purchase of David Villa for £34.2 million and the anticipated signing of Cesc Fabregas for a similar amount, showing that the top clubs have no intention of curbing their spending.

Another fact adding to the imbalance is probably the fact that unlike English Premier League clubs who have a collective television deal with the broadcast income being divided equally among the 20 clubs depending on the number of  appearances and final league position, the Spanish clubs negotiate their own media deals. This once again means that top two – Barcelona and Real Madrid get the best deals. They were able to rake in Barcelona half of their incomes from media rights.

With more income coming in from media deals and exposure, the top two have much more spending power than the rest of the league. This in turn makes it possible for them to pay whatever it takes to bring the player they want to their club, raising the wage-rate higher for the entire league and thus pushing the others further into debt. It also makes the league lopsided, as was seen this season with Barcelona beating Real Madrid to La Liga title by three points, and Valencia finishing a distant third, 28 points behind the champions.

La Liga’s problems are further highlighted by the fact that Real Mallorca, a club which only narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Champions League on the final day of the season and finished 5th in La Liga had to file for voluntary administration after failing to find buyer  to take on their €85m debt.

Jose Gay who feels the current model is unsustainable warns that the league would be in “death throes”. “Barça and Madrid will have to make an effort, sacrificing today so the league can flourish”, he added.

It looks like it is time Barcelona and Real Madrid sat down and watched Spiderman, the movie… ” with great power, comes great responsibility.”

Article first published as Spanish Game in Crisis as La Liga Debts Soar on Technorati.

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The Cutest Mascot … Yeah?

I have often had the whole, premier-league-being-better-than-the-Spanish League’ debate with my friends and always reminded them quite smugly how when we take the quality on display of all the clubs in the EPL and then compare it to the La Liga, we are far superior. The number of English clubs making the semi-finals and finals of the Champions League has been my key weapon for silencing the critics of the English League who think that the premier league is not as exciting. (oh lord, forgive them for the know no better!). But the other day I found something where, the Spanish clubs have quite clearly outdone their English counterparts. Watch the video to see Real Valladolid’s new recruit. They desperately wanted to beat Valencia and took the old saying that, ‘ if you want to beat Valencia, recruit a circus bear,’ quite literally. Too bad, it didn’t work, but you gotta give it to the Spanish for knowing how to have a ‘bear of a time’!

Stamford the Lion, you are still the cutest but this bear puts up quite a fight… yeah?

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