Anil Murthy pulls chinas in every act in which he participates. The latter were launched in a talk he gave at the presentation of a Master’s degree organized by the VCF Foundation. His criticisms were directed at the global management model of football, to a certain extent the one that led Valencia to fall into the hands of Peter Lim, but also and in a veiled way – without naming him – the one he led. Mateu Alemany in his time at the Mestalla club.
“Stadiums closed, no income from fans, or boxes … many sponsorships have been lost … losses due to the pandemic. But we can’t blame the pandemic for everything “. The last part of this phrase by Murthy could sound like an attempt to self-criticize his management. But that was not his intention.
“We cannot blame the pandemic for everything”
In the reflections of the president, the pandemic is to blame for the reduction in income from subscribers (from 12 million in the 2019/20 season to nothing in the 2020/21), the loss of agreements commercial (section that will be more noticeable in the budget for the next academic year, because in the previous one most of the contracts were in force) and the market tightness (laughable offers). In fact, the pandemic continues to be the club’s main argument to request the extension of the Mestalla ATE. But when he clarifies that “we cannot blame the pandemic for everything”, Murthy points directly and exclusively to “overspending, hyperinflation, a problem in the football industry.” That is, at the cost of the templates.
“You cannot continue to manage football clubs in this way. You cannot continue to borrow money to spend it and leave the problem for whoever comes. The positive part of the pandemic is that it has exposed the general problem of the soccer industry with hyperinflation, about expenses and carefree behavior. “This is what Murthy said last Thursday, which could serve as an explanation as to why Valencia was sold to a businessman from Singapore (from those Juan Soler mud, these muds). But it is also the alibi emanating from the club to explain the decisions taken since September 2019 and already at that time it was used as an argument to justify why Lim dispensed with Mateu Alemany.
The data during the stage of Mateu Alemany in Valencia
The data say that, in the two years in which Peter Lim endorsed the management of Mateu Alemany, Valencia signed for 226 million and sold for 130.3. In that period, the staff cost almost doubled: from 93 million in the 2017/2018 season (54 in salaries and 39 in depreciation) to 175 in the 2019/20 workforce (108 in salaries and 67 in depreciation), the The last one made by the Alemany-Marcelino tandem, although it was Murthy who managed it and Celades who directed it.
Since then, Peter Lim’s slogan has been clear: reduce the cost of staff each year and curb investments. Marcelino used to define this policy an expression that took its toll on him: “Only crabs go backwards”, referring to when Lim had agreed to leave Rodrigo to Atlético with no intention of replacing him. Rodrigo stayed that year, but those who finally left the club were Marcelino and Alemany himself and a year later the liquidation of the Copa del Rey champion team began.
With Alemany, the staff cost almost doubled (from 93 to 175), but annual revenues were also increased by 90 million
Thus, after the departures in the summer of 2020 of Parejo, Coquelin, Kondogbia, Rodrigo … the staff cost was reduced to 128 million, a figure that is similar to the current one and that is wanted even more, up to a range that ranges between 70 and 90 million. It is precisely this policy of reduction that led to the praise of the League (“The management is excellent,” said José Guerra, LaLiga’s corporate general director, recently), a surprising compliment considering that it was said on the same day that it was confirmed that the League had set the salary limit margin at only 31 million. Valencia for the Financial Fair Play.
“If the old management style had worked, the club would not be bankrupt. So, logically, the club needed a new management style,” Murthy remarked to the master’s students, sharpening his dart. What Murthy’s analysis missed is the data that supported the functionality of this “old style of management.”
Revenues increased by 90 million annually
Under the management of Alemany and the direction of Marcelino, Valencia qualified twice in a row for the Champions League, reached a semi-final of the Europa League against Arsenal and won a title after 11 years of drought. This sporting performance led the workforce to revalue in just two years by 187.8 million (from 286 million to 474) and, consequently, to increase revenues by subscribers (from 11 to 14 million), commercials (from 13 to 20, increasing the value of the shirt by 60%), television (from 61 to 78) and, above all, income from competitions (from 3 to 66). In other words, annual income increased by about 90 million.
That “old style of management” implied a competitive mentality, a criterion in the decisions, a structural stability and high sights, assuming a risk that is intrinsic to football, where two and two are not always four. Villarreal is in the Champions League today due to a penalty that was saved by its goalkeeper (Rulli) from that of the rival (De Gea) in the 12th round of a final shoot-out (Europa League). Seeing it like this it sounds risky to play both a penalty. The reality is that Villarreal plays the Champions League because their project is designed to fight for it. But Lim has a different roadmap, a model of mediocre short-term expectations., something that differs from the idiosyncrasy of a club like Valencia, and based on an austere economic balance, far from what is presented as the “largest transaction in world football.”
Peter Lim’s umpteenth change of course
The philosophy, the concept of the project, of the Alemany stage, with which Lim is now promoting, has nothing to do. Mateu Alemany, in 2018, said as a spokesman that he was from Valencia: “If we want to have a competitive team we must increase our FPF. To increase it we must sell players. Do we want to have the same FPF of 110 million euros? Or do we prefer to reach 150 even if that generates a deficit? For me it is very clear. We prefer to have more FPF, invest more, even if that generates a deficit. We have stayed very far from the top clubs and to get closer we must invest and continue taking risks “.
While, the new style” Murthy is talking about is based, “in the short term, on reestablishing the financial situation making it more sustainable by lowering costs (hence the capitalization of 43 million Lim); in the medium term, building a football team that will compete at a top level without doing crazy things; without signing like a madman and not having money to pay later; and in the long term keep the team at its maximum level within the financial limit of the club “.
Peter Lim, in whose way of life loyalty prevails as a synonym of servility and in whose decisions resentment has a place, hides behind the argument that it is a risk to invest 175 million in a squad to be in suspense until the last day to find out if he plays the Champions League or the Europa League (as happened in the two years with Marcelino). Curiously, an example of the saw teeth in which the club has moved since 2014, Lim has gone from drawing up an internal economic plan that aspired to reach an annual budget of 200 million, which was what was understood as necessary to compete regularly in Europe, to be told by the League that it cannot spend more than 31 million on the creation of the squad.
At the same time, the owner forgets that, thanks to that “old style of management”, Valencia joined in two years 126 million for competitions (Champions) and had his fans delivered; while after the departure of Alemany, barely 3 million have returned in cash from competitions (two years 12th in the league) and unprecedented social uprooting reigns. And there the pandemic is not to blame either, as demonstrated by Seville or Vila-real.