Everything must go in La Liga

Like bankers getting bonuses or mortgage-brokers holidaying in the Bahamas, there are some financially-flushed folk out there in Planet Football who simply don’t realise that cash-splashing has gone the way of pensions and savings in the fashion stakes.

In Spain, stories of football clubs fishing for funding are up there with Palestinian scarves and mullets (again) in the trend stakes with at least three Primera clubs currently setting honey traps for millionaire magnates looking to pee away their portfolios.

Of course, there are still those James Blunt/Snow Patrol-loving dinosaurs who continue to boast about their flush financial situation.

Barcelona are set to buy 30% of a Miami-based MLS franchise. “Not a commercial operation,” said a suit but a chance to raise the team’s marketing profile in the US of A.

And a very nifty excuse for the Barça board to travel en masse on ‘fact-finding/due diligence’ missions to Miami Beach. Which, as La Liga Loca once found out on a trip there, is also centre of the world’s mucky-movie industry.

Real Madrid’s Ramón Calderón has again swerved the sore subject of the club’s debt – a constant question asked by those pesky sticky-beak socios.

Instead, the Bernabeu big wig claims cryptically that “it is possible to be poor and owe little, and owe a lot but be rich” – a financial philosophy that has proven oh-so-wise over the past few months.

The club hardest hit by these economic End of Days seems to be Mallorca.

The club’s main shareholder and sponsor, Drac –  a construction company headed by Mallorca president Vicenç Grande – was forced to suspend trading over the summer after the wholesale collapse of the entire industry.

And this forced a man-hunting Mallorca onto the market to find new a Big Daddy. And it is set to be Paul “the Plumber” Davidson, a gentleman who fits the perfect profile of a Primera prime-mover by knowing absolutely bugger all about football.

However, unlike the other 19, Davidson happily admits this and plans to leave Grande as club president to continue running the side’s affairs.

While this transfer of power appears to be going fairly smoothly, it has been a very different story at Betis. Naturally.

If the purchase of an English club is very much the financial equivalent of a ‘would you like a drink and then a shag, perhaps?’ affair, buying a club in Spain is, in its complexity, akin to the Jonas Brothers getting jiggy with a couple of nuns.

Since the beginning of summer, Darth de Lopera has been dressed as a coy Mary Poppins and switched between flirtatiousness and frigidity in his dealings with the BSport consortium – a group of investors looking to blow their grandchildrens’ inheritances on the Andalusian club.

After an initial deadline of October 4 was missed for the transfer of De Lopera’s majority shareholding, a new date of the end of the month was set.

And on Monday, the Husky-obsessed tightwad confirmed that the deal would go through, as planned. But that didn’t mean that he would be going anywhere.

“I will always be there if Betis need me,” he grinned devilishly.

Life appears to be getting tougher and tougher for poor old Deportivo. Still suffering for the excessive expenditure of the SuperDepor days, the club is quickly becoming the Iceland of La Liga.

President, Augusto Lendoiro, has been scratching his toupee for some time now, trying to track down billionaires to buy out the club. But without success.

Over the summer, the gravel-eating Galicians were handed another blow when their shirt sponsors pulled out, leaving their estimated €120 million debt not getting any smaller.

Lendoiro has been trying to get the local council on board to sponsor the club, but his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. “I asked them to back us. Deportivo would pay them back many times,” promised the president.

Even Athletic Bilbao have had to continue thinking outside their Basque box. After taking on shirt sponsors this season for the first time in the side’s history, the next step looks like being the signing of an eight-year, €28 million deal with Umbro.

With the economic climate in Iberia not looking too hot over the next couple of years, there could be plenty more wooing and worrying to come in La Liga.


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