We cannot keep spending: Anil Murthy


Earlier today, Valencia’s President Anil Murthy put out a strongly-worded statement on the team’s website in response to criticisms aimed at the club. Murthy defended the club’s performance over the past 6 seasons while outlining plans for their player strategy, new stadium and financial management.

We break down the 1151-word statement.

On the club’s finances

When Peter Lim bought the club, Valencia was in serious debt. In June 2009, the club had €547m in debt. There was no cash in the bank and Valencia had to sell their best players, including legends David Villa, David Silva, Juan Mata and Jordi Alba.

By 2013, Valencia continued to suffer under the weight of debt and creditors forced the sale of the club. Lim bought Valencia CF with “€48m unpaid salaries to players and no cash in the bank”.

It was only by 2017 that the club started to repay their debts. In the season just ended, Valencia recorded their highest income in history, said Murthy.

“The banks are happy finally. They trust that this Valencia will be sustainable,” said Murthy.

Player strategy

The debt situation made it untenable for Valencia to keep a large squad, said Murthy.

“We could not keep spending. We already had 30 plus players in the squad, pushing some out on loans to make space for more signings,” he added.

“This had to end. And so we did. We stopped it and cut losses before we went too far into trouble.” 

Despite Valencia’s best efforts to keep debts low, the size of debt kept rising mainly due to the buying of players. To tackle this issue, the club switched to grooming local talent such as Toni Lato, Lee Kang In and Ferran Torres. 

Today, there are many young players training with the first team.

Rebuilding of squad

The team’s poor season ended with the club finishing 9th in the league. It was the first time in 2 years that they did not make the Champions League.

“We are not in the Champions League.  So we rebuild. This is neither the beginning nor the end. We must learn from the past. Pushing the ‘big stadium, big players, win LaLiga and Champions League at all cost’ mentality will lead to a repeat of the past,” said Murthy.

At the same time, the club has to deal with the fallout from Covid-19, which will see TV rights income drop by 30 per cent and commercial income fall by 50 per cent. In all, Murthy expects income to fall by half. This impact is expected to last 2 seasons.

The most direct solution is to trim the club’s wage cost, said Murthy. This means selling ageing players with 2 years or less on their contracts, with high wages and who are injury-prone. The club have sold club captain Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin to Villareal, with the media speculating that another 8 are on the chopping board.

“We can’t keep them and we shouldn’t,” said Murthy.

“Second, we must keep investing in our Academy boys and pushing them up. We have made significant changes in the Academy and the medical team just 2 weeks earlier.”

On Ferran

The issue of selling Ferran Torres was not decided by the club. Ferran, who had one year left on his contract, wanted to go despite being offered one of the highest wages in the squad, said Murthy.

Manchester City bought the 20-year-old winger, one of the club’s brightest prospects, for a rumoured €25 million.

“His agent said no. Each one chooses their path. We learn from this experience but we don’t forget. We have a good group of players from our Academy coming up and we will make sure we don’t have this kind of problem again. They are good boys. Many of them are training with the first team now,” he said.

Photo credit: https://www.foto8.com/live/spanish-crisis-joupin-ghamsari/1-3/

On the stadium

The club also clarified their stance on the new stadium, which has been in the works for nearly a decade. The plan was to start building in May 2020 and finish by 2022.

A key part of the project was to sell the Mestalla and it had a buyer, ADU, lined up. But ADU was not able to deliver the guarantees in time. As such, the club decided to work with other parties to buy the current Mestalla. 

Murthy also outlined a 4-step plan to build the new stadium. 

First, the club have to sell the Mestalla for at least €120m. About €150m has been budgeted for the new stadium. Valencia will also raise the capacity of the new stadium to about 65,000. To support the operating costs of the new stadium, season ticket prices and public tickets will rise by 15 per cent on average.

Meriton’s track record

Finally, Murthy also defended Meriton’s 6 years at the club, noting that it has performed just as well as the previous 6 years, while improving the club’s finances.

“We qualified for Champions League thrice in our 6 seasons and won a title. It is no less, if not better than the previous 6 seasons before us. It is also in line with VCF’s Champions League qualifications throughout its history. We are committed to building a sustainable club and to keep it growing. It takes time. ”

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