Valencia CF a lot and very soon, but I didn't say much more than that. Sure, it was cryptic and I really had no inside knowledge, nor do I consider myself psychic or some Malcolm Gladwell snake-oil predictor of trends, but I am curious and I do connect the dots pretty well. There is definitely something happening at Mestalla.
It's more than just hiring club legend Roberto Ayala as Sporting Director, firing former player Miroslav Djukic and replacing him with another former player Juan Antonio Pizzi who had just finished a stunning title run in Argentina with the Pope's favorite club San Lorenzo de Almagro. It's the fact that for the first time in a decade, Valencia CF's financial problems might just be clearing up.
That's a tough nut to solve and it has taken much sacrifice over many administrations, one club President after another haggling with creditors to restructure a debt that once topped at over 500 million euros. They have sold assets like David Silva, David Villa, Juan Mata, Jordi Alba, Isco and Roberto Soldado, amongst others and they have raised capital by increasing the price of shares to individual investors, the fans themselves, but they have continued to struggle. They have continued to subsist on loans backed by the regional government and construction on their Nou Mestalla has halted with debts owed to the builders and interest on loans to a stadium that was never finished. The last resort of desperate men is prayer, and so when current President Amadeo Salvo announced at a shareholders meeting in December that the club was most definitely up for sale, he was on his knees and hoping that a buyer would appear.
Unsurprisingly, a buyer was already waiting in the wings: Singapore businessman Peter Lim whose net-worth is estimated at around $2 billion. In 2010 he lost out on an attempt to buy Liverpool FC and the proposed offer of around 250 million euros and a 40 million euro war-chest for signings is similar (give or take 40-50 million euros) to the offer the Liverpool board received. Salvo wanted to fast-track the sale but Bankia, which holds much of the debt owed by Valencia is said to be considering other offers as well, and have extended the window to the middle of January.
Lim will have to prove that he is more of a Malaga style owner like Abdullah Al-Thani, who revolutionized the Andalusian club than a Racing Santander owner like Ahsan Ali Syed, who drove his club into the ground. He will have to navigate through the sometimes murky political waters in Valencia and he will have to sort out any proposed fall-out from the EU investigation of Spanish football that might include Valencia. The deal could also fall through, there are many pieces to the puzzle to align, and there are plenty of open hands to stuff with money owed but for the first time in a long while there is optimism in Valencia.