El Centrocampista

MONEY AND MISTRUST IN MADRID – The turbulent return of Rayo Vallecano.

By Alex Bromley

To quote almost every article on the planet, Rayo Vallecano are La Liga’s perennial and proverbial ‘yo-yo’.

In the same vein of Crystal Palace back over here, they are not quite good enough for the top table, but a little too mature to sit down with the kids – or so the tabloids say.

Though having said that, perhaps a more apt comparison would be to that of Hercules or, for the sake of argument, Portsmouth.

Pompey, as though you could ever forget, were in desperate financial turmoil and by the time the dreaded ‘drop’ had come about in April 2009, they didn’t  have enough money for anything.

The players paid for their own coach to the FA cup final, and after a while things had become so bad that the club
even began to sell the flags at Fratton Park for funds.

La Liga newbies Rayo Vallecano are somewhat similar; the players put their heart and soul into their performances and yet not a single one of them has been paid since October last year.

Since last being relegated in 2003, Rayo have endured most of their time in the Segunda Division, with a couple of years down in Segunda B.

Rayo Vallecano hope to put recent worries behind them

Although staying afloat in a footballing sense, the club has been burdened with particularly rubbish owners and as such, particularly rubbish funds.

Teresa Rivero, the first female President in Spanish professional football and a sort of Iberian Karren Brady, had served the club since 1994, but last year made the grave error of making promises that she couldn’t keep.

The deal was this; everyone knew that the club was in dire straits – the fans knew it, the players knew it, the boardroom knew it and the rest of Spain knew it.

Rivero then openly said to the players that the only way they would get paid was if they made it back into La Liga – if the club managed that, they would have the money to pay the players.

Basically, she said “you’ll only get paid if you get promoted. You play badly and you won’t get paid”.

Not the ideal sentiment to start the season, and certainly not the best way of winning back the fans and player’s allegiance however despite these unorthodox ‘motivational’ speeches, Rivero was not deemed the sole problem.

Another villain, the club’s owner the Nueva Rumasa group were, and still are, in the doldrums themselves.

In February they suspended all  payments to clients (which included Rayo) due to reported debt – just a measly €750 million – and It’s CEO, one Jose Maria Ruiz-Mateos, was sent to prison for three years in 2005 having been found guilty of tax evasion and several cases of fraud stretching back to the 1980s.

Now here’s the twist; Teresa Rivero is his wife.

Her appointment as president was intended to mask the downright filthy reputation of Ruiz-Mateos and she would be his puppet and face to the footballing world.

As it turned out, and as proven by her comments, she was just as inept in the footballing and business worlds as he was.

The players kept playing regardless of the situation but, needless to say, Rayo fans are less than pleased with the way the club was being run.

They repeatedly called for the ousting of Ruiz-Mateos with matters coming to a head last season to such an extent that the fans convoyed to and around his home in Madrid and then proceeded to down the letters of the stadium name from it’s terraces – bear in mind that Ruiz-Mateos had previously renamed the stadium to match that of his wife.

Then came the miracle – May 2011 and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid were, against all financial odds, promoted back into the Primera Division for the first time in eight years and received a much needed money boost.

Unsurprisingly, no sooner had this bonus been agreed with La Liga than Mr Dodgy and Mrs Incompetent upped sticks and left the club. Perhaps Rayo will revert to the old stadium name rather than keeping the rather despised Estadio Teresa Rivero.

One problem solved, but there are still many to overcome.

The numerous loanees which the club employed to assist in the promotion bid will not stay for another season and regardless of whether you love your job of not, no professional of any kind wants to work for free so they need a cash boost and they need it quick.

New president Raul Martin Presa has somewhat of an uphill battle but the fans and the players are pleased to have someone new at the helm and a good thing too; they will definitely need some stability this season if they are to survive this season in La Liga this time around.

One Comment

  1. Chris Collins

    2 August, 2011 at 00:25

    Good article….i’m hoping to see them play in October..hope they’re still in business by then !

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