Last week, Atlético president Enrique Cerezo appeared alongside General Director Miguel Ángel Gil Marín on Cadena SER radio in order to deny rumours about a rift between the pair.
Yesterday, the two went to the offices of Spanish paper AS to answer questions about the club’s finances and about the growing opposition from fan groups such as Señales de Humo and Atléticos por el Cambio.
“We can’t be doing such a bad job if the club is wealthier, and has more sponsorship and more income,” they said, referring to British financial consulting firm Deloitte’s recently released annual ranking of the top 20 highest earning football clubs in the world.
Atlético, with 2009-10 income of €124.5m, placed 17th in the global earnings chart. The ranking only contemplates revenues generated by the club without taking debt into account.
In its report Deloitte predicts that if Atleti don’t qualify for Champions League play, they will drop out of the top 20 ranking next year.
“This club has income of €135m, but 110 [million] is always guaranteed through television, marketing, membership fees, ticket sales and participation in European competition,” said Gil. “Those remaining 20 or 25 million won’t be a big problem because they can be covered by unexpected income.
“Last year was really good because the budget was covered by making it to the Europa League final and by winning the European Super Cup. But the fact of the matter is that we can’t be so irregular, it’s inexplicable. We can’t allow ourselves that luxury.”
The directors explain the club’s position regarding television contracts
Rojiblanco club directors have been criticised for their submissiveness toward Real Madrid and Barcelona in accepting the grossly disproportionate television contract terms proposed by the league giants.
Barça and Real currently receive the lion’s share of television earnings in Spain, roughly €140m each, and many feel that this will only perpetuate the Primera División duopoly.
Gil Marín addressed critics of Atleti’s alliance with the big two by clarifying the club’s position regarding broadcasting rights.
“If I were them, I would possibly also be angry, but they have to be aware of the real situation from an inside perspective,” he said. “Atlético’s stance is clear. Clubs should surrender their television rights to la Liga. That’s the only way to get rid of the huge difference between clubs.
“But it’s impossible as the big two don’t want to and you can’t dispossess them of their television rights, he said. “The alternative proposal was that a second group of clubs all receive 50 million [euros]. Included in that group were Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Atlético.
“Currently, we receive 44 [million euros]. For us, it meant an increase of only six million while Sevilla, for example, would grow by 22 [million], as they currently receive 28. For six million more we weren’t going to give a group of clubs that are behind us an advantage, so that they could then use that money to reinforce themselves.”
The duo insisted that the only way to eliminate the problem would be if all teams “give their televison rights up to la Liga.”
Response to attacks from opposition groups
Atléticos por el Cambio have scheduled protests for the 24th of April, and have openly attacked the directing pair for their mismanagement of the club and for their stance on the television contracts issue.
“I would’ve signed up for that platform if it would’ve came out after we won the Europa League and the Super Cup or when we were leading the league in the second week of the campaign,” said Gil Marín.
“Three Cups and one League and we would have to see what these titles represent in the global balance of the history of our club. And in these last years we’ve made it into Champions League twice and another two times into Europa League. And we won two titles. I don’t think that’s too bad.”
AS reports that Señales de Humo is set to hold a press conference today in which the group will claim that shares of Atlético cost “zero euros.”
“They’re not going to take the club for free,” said Cerezo. “How can they say that? They haven’t mounted a constructive opposition and they want the team to lose in Zaragoza.
“I’m tired of having to show who the owner of Atlético is every day. They should come here with a check and we will discuss a price. But they’re not going to take the club for free.”
Juanfran was signed upon request by Quique
Atlético’s majority shareholders closed out their session at AS by talking about the situation with winter signings Elias and Juanfran, who haven’t featured much since their arrival.
“We made the effort to bring in two players for Quique, one a Brazilian international and the other a request by the coach” said Cerezo. Gil Marín said that Atleti “negotiated morning, day and night to bring Juanfran in because the manager asked us for him.
“But we can’t get involved in the coach’s decisions.”