Llorente: Valencia ruined without government loan

MADRID - Valencia would have faced ruin or relegation to Spain's third tier if the regional government had not guaranteed a 74 million-euro loan in August, president Manuel Llorente was quoted as saying on Thursday.

The La Liga club, which has debts of more than 500 million euros and made a loss of 70 million last season, used the cash to build a stake of 72.5 percent via a capital increase to try and stabilise their finances.

They had to suspend work on a new stadium and Llorente told As newspaper he expected a further loss of between 35 and 40 million euros this term.

"Without the intervention of the regional government we would have defaulted on our payments or been relegated to the Segunda B (third tier)," Llorente said.

"We need to start playing (in the new stadium) as soon as possible," he added. "It will have a capacity of 70,000, which will boost our income and free up the current stadium, making it easier to sell."

Valencia finished sixth in La Liga last season and qualified for the potentially lucrative Europa League.

But their financial woes forced them to delay payments to players and officials said they might have to sell prize players such as Spain internationals David Villa and David Silva.

Their debts rival those of Real Madrid and Barcelona but they lack the earning power of the two La Liga giants and analysts say their plight typifies that of many Spanish clubs who are forced to live beyond their means to compete.

Llorente's strategy to turn the club's fortunes around involves encouraging fans to invest and he told As Valencia was rich in assets, with two stadiums, two training facilities and a squad that was "the envy of the world".

He hinted that the club might still have to offload Villa after attempts by Real Madrid and Barcelona to sign him for 42 million euros.

"It's nice and popular to say you won't sell (players) but there is a difficult road ahead," he said. "You can always sell star players and remain competitive."