Sporting prepare for a new dawn after Lopes exposes flawed system

At six o’clock in the morning and not without some controversy, Sporting unveiled the man they hope can take them back to where they believe they belong after one of the most disputed elections in recent times

This election had just about all the ingredients of a good Mexican soap opera. The cast featured four scheming characters all vying to capture the affection of their audience (there was also Abrantes Mendes, but he was rather bland…).

Bruno de Carvalho, for instance, announced his business associates were some random Russians with deep pockets and unclear motives; Dias Ferreira had, in Paulo Futre, a comedian rather than a director of football; Pedro Baltazar looked more interested in golf and his rashly proposed bid for Ricardo Quaresma looked more desperate than ambitious; while Godinho Lopes opted to cater to the old boys by giving former players and staff positions within his structure.

Bruno de Carvalho was the candidate who best represented change and one thing most people were in agreement about was that the current establishment should not live on.

After a solid showing in the first debate, Carvalho became the frontrunner, with Godinho Lopes leading the chasing pack, a spot he managed to hold until the very end.

In hindsight, going to Russia to introduce his associates was not the best idea and was most likely what cost him this election, with the press conference raising more questions than it answered: Who were those people? What were their motivations behind their financial backing? Were they in it for the long haul?

These are now all things we’ll probably never know, because Bruno de Carvalho ended up losing by a razor-thin margin - potentially leaving Sporting a club divided.

A flawed system

Lisbon sports daily Record jumped the gun by announcing on their website that Carvalho would be the new Sporting president, having assessed the exit polls until 6 pm. It was all very Gore vs. Bush.

As you probably remember, Al Gore won the ‘popular vote’ in the American Presidental Election of 2000, yet lost the electoral, meaning good ol' George W. Bush was (eventually) sworn in as President. Likewise, and even though he lost, 6047 people voted on Carvalho compared to the 4511 that opted for Lopes.

He had 34% more voters than Godinho and would win with a comfortable margin in a straight vote - it just happens that things aren’t that straightforward. Supporters’ votes are weighted more heavily the longer they have been registered members of the club.

For instance, the 19 ‘longest-serving’ supporters are permitted to cast 25 votes each, while the 40,000 newest members are given only a single vote.

Therefore, it is not that difficult to have a president who does NOT gather the majority of the votes - especially if they appeal to the older, more conservative wing of the club’s fan base - which was exactly what Godinho Lopes did.

His agenda focused on a simple premise: ‘move forward by going back to the old ways’. Beto, Vidigal, Manuel Fernandes, Nelson, Luis Duque and Carlos Freitas are all familiar faces and most likely the risk-averse supporters opted to stick with people they knew (and who won a few pieces of silverware along the way) rather than take a risk on something, or more specifically someone, unknown.

What now?

Unlike many of his opponents, Godinho Lopes didn’t name a new manager. He said his man was currently in work at another club and that he would only introduce him at the end of the season, though rumours say it will be Braga coach Domingos Paciência.

If that happens to be the case, then it is a good choice, because the Braga boss has proved to be a more-than-capable manager in his two seasons with the Minho Warriors, while appointing a manager from within Liga Zon Sagres has the obvious advantages of him knowing the league and the language.

Among his list of potential targets, as far as the playing staff goes, are Hugo Almeida, Ezequiel Garay, Alberto Rodriguez and Alex Silva, but he touted the Academy as the way to build the team.

Re-financing the club and clearing the debts are also priorities, though as of yet there are no specific plans in place

The Portugeezer cannot help but feel that despite all the razzmatazz, heated discussions and over-the-top promises, little will change at the club. And, given how poorly the club has performed in the last two seasons in particular, that’s quite bad.

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