Mystery men buy out Valencia
With Valencia not so much flirting with bankruptcy as leering at it with wedding tackle in-hand, gags and giggles have been hard to come by in Mestalla in recent months.
Which was why a press conference called on Monday by the sometimes president and minority shareholder, Vicente Soriano, was so eagerly awaited by local hacks looking for a bit of light relief after the media uber-dominance of Cristiano RonaldoÃ¢ÂÂs arrival in the Spanish capital.
And, true to form, Soriano did not fail to deliver wisecrack after wisecrack, belly-laugh after belly-laugh in a presentation on his plans for the future of the no-pot-to-pee-in club.
But Vicente had a tough reputation to keep up for delivering top class comedy performances.
Last year, he was promising to bring 300m euro into Valencia to the enormous amusement of those gathered listening to his routine.
In early 2009, Vicente was claiming that the sale of the old Mestalla land was just days away. Sadly, the clubÃ¢ÂÂs board and creditors did not find the gag so funny and moved him out of his presidential role when diddly-squat happened.
However, on Monday, ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs version of Dr Evil was back promising to bring in... half-a-billion euro to the club in new investment!
"Why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots?"
Unfortunately, all he had to back up his claims was a battered looking copy of a letter from a mysterious organisation called Inversiones Dalport, a group based in Uruguay but listed in the Madrid suburb of Boadilla, who would be handing over the enormous sums required to drag Valencia off the rocks of doom.
Once the laughter had died down and the local hacks had sowed their sides back up again, Soriano explained that Dalport was in the process of buying both the shares of himself and Juan Soler to bring the groupÃ¢ÂÂs total up to 51 percent and thus give it the control of the club with Soriano as president.
Ã¢ÂÂAn injection of capital is vital,Ã¢ÂÂ explained Soriano over the sniggers. Ã¢ÂÂWith a investment of 500m euro, we can bring the debt back down to zero.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂWe wonÃ¢ÂÂt have to sell anyone!Ã¢ÂÂ promised Vicente, getting the biggest laugh of the day, as he promised that the group would buy the land of the old Mestalla and fund the ongoing construction of the new stadium.
The reason why absolutely no-one takes the ex-president seriously is that he refused to explain who is behind the mysterious Dalport organisation.
Ã¢ÂÂHe went back to the same film as last summer,Ã¢ÂÂ sighed Pedro Morata in AS. Ã¢ÂÂThe stars will stay, the new stadium will be completed, and Valencia will be one of the healthiest clubs in Spain.... but until I see the money, I wonÃ¢ÂÂt believe anything.Ã¢ÂÂ
In a fine piece of investigation, Marca discovered that the eagle logo for the Dalport organisation was lifted directly from a childrenÃ¢ÂÂs colouring book, while AS headed out to Boadilla to visit the supposed HQ of the group in the Madrid suburbs only to find naff-all.
"It looked a lot different on the website"
WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs AS does say that the group are in the process of buying out both Soler and Soriano, but in very, very bizarre circumstances.
The paper writes that Dalport have spent 200m euro on shares which are worth just 51m. WhataÃ¢ÂÂs more, Soler is reportedly receiving 85m for his 35 percent stake, whilst Soriano is getting 115m for his 13.4 percent.
Ã¢ÂÂWhy are they overpaying so much? What is the logic of paying 200m euro for 51 percent when you can get the same for 50.6m?Ã¢ÂÂ asks the baffled sportÃ¢ÂÂs daily.
On Wednesday afternoon, the current Valencia president Manuel Llorente said that if Soriano and his group Ã¢ÂÂbring bank guarantees then we will welcome him with a guard of honour.Ã¢ÂÂ
However, the current big cheese argues that the project unveiled on Monday Ã¢ÂÂcreates reasonable doubts concerning its solidity, viability, but above all, its solvency.Ã¢ÂÂ
La Liga Loca suggest that this may be the biggest understatement of the summer, so far.