Oi Atlético! We want our money back!
For what seems like a very, very, very long time now, AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid have been promising purposefully to break with the painful past and move away from the crumbling, creaking Vicente CalderÃÂ³n to the... er... crumbling, creaking La Peineta stadium.The crazy plan concocted a couple of years ago by, club president, Enrique Cerezo was to leave their current boarded up base in the south of the city and take ownership of a new, hippy-happy home in the east. The slight flaw in this sensible-sounding scheme is that one of the grounds in question is a rubble-strewn, weed-infested death trap. And so is La Peineta.
The crumbling, creaking Vicente CalderÃÂ³n
But not to worry, says Cerezo. All that needs to happen for the rojiblanco dream to come true is for the cityÃ¢ÂÂs suits to reclassify the land the CalderÃÂ³n and neighbouring beer factory is built on, so the site can be bought and turned into charmless, Ikea-stuffed yuppie flats. The club would then use these funds to spruce up their new home which is currently an athletics venue and watch the pennies pour in thanks to the increased capacity. Unfortunately, as to be expected for the ever unlucky rojiblancos, not everything has gone to plan. Since government crackdowns on the brown-envelope-stuffed-with-cash infested urbanisation business kicked off, finding someone qualified to do the job and who isnÃ¢ÂÂt sharing a jail cell with Big Toni has been tough. The second problem has been the completely predictable bursting of the Spanish housing bubble. For years, the main business plan of construction magnates has been Ã¢ÂÂif you build it, some sucker will pay over the odds to buy it.Ã¢ÂÂ
And this has hit AtlÃÂ©ticoÃ¢ÂÂs bottom line - a hefty pot of gold that the rojiblanco rulers hoped would wipe out their debt, buy them a new stadium and give Cerezo some new office furniture.
The crumbling, creaking La Peineta stadium
Last Thursday, the AtlÃÂ©tico president admitted that if the CalderÃÂ³n is bought and everything else goes tickety-boo, the club accounts may not be as Ã¢ÂÂcleanÃ¢ÂÂ as he had originally hoped. Ã¢ÂÂThe move will not be easy as weÃ¢ÂÂll have to urbanise the stadium as well as the Mahou (beer factory) complex,Ã¢ÂÂ said Cerezo, who still expects a deal to be signed with the city authorities to facilitate the move within the next three weeks. La Liga Loca says that the money-spinning move canÃ¢ÂÂt come soon enough. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs because AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid owes the blog big. Real big. It is not talking about compensation for the boredom endured, diseases caught, suicidal feelings suffered, electrocutions received and stair falls that it has experienced in recent years in their current home. But because the club owes the hardworking, law abiding Spanish tax payer quite a lot of money. Around 105 million euros in back taxes, penalties, and interest payments to be exact. La Liga Loca is not even sure how AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid got into this mess, even though it is just a small part of the 700 odd million owed to The Man - or Us, if you happen to be living in Spain - by La LigaÃ¢ÂÂs finest. But the increasingly grumpy, Daily Telegraph letter-writing blog is getting very annoyed indeed that this state of affairs is allowed to continue. Day after day in the press, itÃ¢ÂÂs possible to see the likes of Cerezo wining and dining the Madrid city officials in frenzies of back-slapping bravado.
And in every photo, the restraining order-tempting blog fails to see their civil servant guests shouting Ã¢ÂÂwhereÃ¢ÂÂs our money... whereÃ¢ÂÂs our money...whereÃ¢ÂÂs our money,Ã¢ÂÂ every five seconds into their hostsÃ¢ÂÂ faces. If AtlÃÂ©tico and the rest of their brethren want to rack up debts to benefactors, banks, sovereign wealth funds or sinister groups of criminal masterminds, then thatÃ¢ÂÂs their business. But as soon as they start messing with JosÃÂ© Public and depriving civil servants of the right to blow hundreds of millions in the Icelandic economy, then enough is enough.
"Show me the money!"
So this is why itÃ¢ÂÂs time to start taking the power back - starting with AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid. La Liga Loca has two visits to the CalderÃÂ³n planned over the next week and has decided to start collecting some collateral. Armed with a welding torch, crowbar and some rope - not that hard to slip past security if you distract them by displaying a digital watch - the blog is going shopping.On the immediate hit list is ManicheÃ¢ÂÂs McDonaldÃ¢ÂÂs tokens, Ever BanegaÃ¢ÂÂs mouse mat, a TV commentary cabin and a floodlight. And all funds from the sale of these items will be immediately handed over to His MajestyÃ¢ÂÂs tax collectors. And there will be many more trips to come unless the CalderÃÂ³n coffers cough up what is owed.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs payback time.