El Centrocampista

Political row breaks in Granada over stadium finances


Towards the end of last week, the Alcalde (mayor) of Granada city council, Torres Hurtado, declared that from the start of the new season, Granada CF would have to cover the costs for use of the Nuevo Los Cármenes stadium.

Torres Hurtado, of the Partido Popular (conservatives), claims that it is imprudent for the city to continue supporting the football club financially, by covering the running costs of the stadium, whilst harsh cuts are being made elsewhere in their budget. Interesting to bear in mind, this is the same man who only last year, amidst much fanfare, claimed that if Granada CF survived in the Primera, he would see to it a new 40,000 seater stadium was built, in the north of the city.

Political opponents however, including leaders of the IU (United Left) and PSOE (socialists), claim that such a move is short-sighted, given that as a direct result of Granada CF playing in the Primera, local business saw growth in excess of thirty million Euros last year, plus the creation of over a thousand jobs.

The mayor and the controlling party of the city council however, claim that whilst taxpayers in the city are “tightening their belts”, they shouldn’t be asked to pay towards costs, which ultimately benefit the football club, now a privately owned and run business. They also stated that costs of around a million Euros a year, should be covered by the club, which has benefited significantly, from TV revenues and ticket sales over the last year.

The arguments run much deeper than this alone however. Having dropped down the divisions and lost funding and support from the city council, basketball team CB Granada was forced into extinction. They would have been forced to meet the costs of using the indoor arena, Palacio del Deportes, which lies directly next to the likewise municipally owned, Nuevo Los Cármenes football stadium.

Popular futsal team Oxypharma FS Granada, having gained promotion to the Primera FutSal for the first time in their history, looked for help from the city council. Their current home in the Albolote suburb doesn’t meet Primera requirements, so the sensible option was a move to Palacio del Deportes. The city council quoted in excess of €200,000 per year for use of the facility. A sum way in excess of anything a FutSal club could afford. As a result, the team may have to withdraw from competing in the Primera or could even be forced to leave the city.

Many sections of the local media, along with sports fans in the city, claim that the mayor and city council simply don’t like sport. Others suggest that the mayor pledges support when it suits him politically, only to withdraw it later. The success of Granada CF and Oxypharma FS have brought great attention to the city. Important for business and investment, whilst also offering the population something to be genuinely proud of.

The ramifications for Granada CF may also be important to follow. Club president Quique Pina has regularly mentioned his frustrations, over negotiations with local politicians. Both with Granada city council and the council of the suburb of Otura, over the much delayed Ciudad Deportiva training complex construction.

Head of the investment group that owns the club, Gino Pozzo, is asking for clarification from the city council and the mayor. Whilst he assures the people of Granada that the intention of their investment and project is long-term, things could be put at risk by lack of support from the local council and any about-turn on their part, regarding previous assurances they had made.

In the meantime, having already lost their basketball team and facing the impending loss of their futsal team, fans of Granada CF and the population of city, wait with bated breath for the outcome of this latest political argument.

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