An unglamorous club from the north of Spain has suddenly become world famous after the Brazilian Ronaldo took over
Fans and citizens living right next to the Pisuerga river didn’t believe it when, a few weeks ago, the first reports of Ronaldo Nazario’s interest in buying a controlling stake in Real Valladolid began spreading.
“How does that even make sense?”
But it does. It totally makes sense. At least, for ‘Il Fenómeno’ himself. With his usual confident stride, Ronaldo strolled into the City Council of Valladolid last Monday to explain all the nooks and crannies of the agreement, after buying 51% of Valladolid’s shares for a cool $35 million. Most of the investment has been used to pay back the club’s debt. He was joined in the press conference by the man who will keep his position as the club’s president, Carlos Suarez.
The place was absolutely packed with journalists from all around the world and that’s only one of the potentially hundreds of ways that Ronaldo’s presence might have an impact on the Castilian club. “We want to make the club grow. We have a large group of professionals at all levels, with over 20,000 season-ticket holders,” he said. His working group believe they can “consolidate” the club in LaLiga after promotion last summer, and “keep building” from that point onwards.
Founded in 1928, Real Valladolid have found themselves experiencing a 90th birthday under the most extraordinary circumstances. After many grey years of navigating La Segunda, they managed to achieve a well-deserved promotion last season with a dramatic 48 games played: all the regular season and three play-off rounds. The city became flooded with pride and the ticket and season-pass sales this summer have been strong.
The club has the muscle amongst the fans, but it lacked economic support for their ailing finances. Their promotion will inject them some much needed cash from the TV rights money. Ronaldo Nazario, with a fortune of $300 million, will provide the remaining backing they need as their new chairman.
Ronaldo has plenty of experience to boot, and he knows that getting local fans to back his project is the way to go. “Give us your ideas, opinions, criticism and hopes. We want you to be part of the present and the future of the Real Valladolid”, he said directly to the Blanquivioleta supporters.
When asked to define his new venture, the former Real Madrid legend summed it up in four words: “Competitive, transparent, revolutionary and social”, he stated. He will keep an eye on everything (“I’m not going to spend the money on buying a team and leave on holiday the next day”, he joked) but Carlos Suárez will remain the ‘boss’ on the day-to-day management of the club.
The sporting area will be crucial for their success: “We want to form the best possible team to compete and there will be a clear social direction in all our actions. I’m sure it will be very difficult to beat us”.
‘Ronaldomania’ is running wild in Pucela: 24 hours after the deal was announced, Ronaldo visited the training grounds and had a meeting with the squad. He spent quite a while taking pictures with fans in the training session. The city is in a frenzy. People are “delighted” to see how warm and welcoming Ronaldo has been with the supporters of his new club.
However, his task seems to be daunting. It’s true that most of the debt has been paid back, but his arrival doesn’t automatically make Valladolid a ‘rich’ club. Smart management and patience have been already brought up. Ronaldo’s hands-on approach might take a while, as the project is taking baby-steps forward. The Brazilian aims to increase the media exposure and international growth of the brand. His undoubtable popularity, in both fronts, will surely be quite helpful.
And, above all, sporting stability: after promoting last season, Valladolid will have to fight tooth and nail to remain in LaLiga after being the side with least investment in the summer transfer market. If things go south, further expenditure in January isn’t off the cards.