Brazil­ian be­comes ma­jor­ity owner of Liga side Real Val­ladolid

World Soccer - - Headliners - John Holmes­dale

T he phe­nom­e­non of for­mer play­ers buy­ing foot­ball clubs has been a lim­ited af­fair so far. David Beck­ham’s MLS Mi­ami fran­chise re­mains in the pipe­line, while Beck­ham’s for­mer Manch­ester United team-mates Gary Neville, Paul Sc­holes and Ryan Giggs put a minirocket into the Eng­land non-league game with their pur­chase of Sal­ford City.

Mean­while, in the USA, Di­dier Drogba (Phoenix Ris­ing), Paolo Mal­dini (Mi­ami) and Demba Ba (San Diego) are all at­tempt­ing to make waves in the sec­ond-tier NASL.

And now for­mer Brazil striker Ron­aldo has joined the party, ac­quir­ing a 51 per cent stake in La Liga side Real Val­ladolid from club pres­i­dent Car­los Suarez for a re­ported € 30mil­lion.

No stranger to foot­ball busi­ness, Ron­aldo pre­vi­ously had a mi­nor­ity stake in NASL club Fort Laud­erdale Strik­ers and played a key role on the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee of the 2014 World Cup in his home­land. And there is now spec­u­la­tion that the pur­chase of the Span­ish club, who were pro­moted last

sea­son, could be a step­ping stone to long-term po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions in Brazil.

It could also prove to be a very shrewd in­vest­ment with the grow­ing value of La Liga TV rights – ir­re­spec­tive of whether a pro­posed plan to play Liga games in the United States gets the green light.

“He’s put­ting us on the map, as a club and as a city,” said Suarez, who will stay on as club pres­i­dent

Val­ladolid are some­thing of a yo-yo club, hav­ing been pro­moted or rel­e­gated be­tween Spain’s top two di­vi­sions six times in the past 14 years. But the club are cur­rently in a sta­ble fi­nan­cial po­si­tion, hav­ing brought pre­vi­ous hefty debts un­der con­trol. Reg­u­lar sell-out crowds at the 26,500-ca­pac­ity Es­ta­dio Jose Zor­rilla have boosted in­come and Ron­aldo is not ex­pected to be in­vest­ing ex­tra money in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

In­deed, the team is do­ing fine with­out any out­side as­sis­tance, with a 1-0 win at Real Betis in Oc­to­ber tak­ing them into the top six, above Real Madrid.

Un­like his for­mer Brazil team-mates Ronald­inho and Ri­valdo, Ron­aldo did not en­dorse Jair Bol­sonaro, the fas­cist can­di­date in the coun­try’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and is a far sharper op­er­a­tor than many have given him credit for.

In­sist­ing that he will be a hands-on owner, the 42-year-old says: “Do you think I’m go­ing to buy the club then go on hol­i­day the next day? I am re­ally ex­cited and I will give all my ex­pe­ri­ence, all my thrill, all my ex­cite­ment for this project to be suc­cess­ful.

“This is not just the club’s rep­u­ta­tion at stake here; the fans’ sup­port and the hope of the whole city is at stake.

“We ex­pect to have the whole coun­try talk­ing about us soon, and why not the whole of Europe? We have a dream and that’s where we want to be.”

“He’s put­ting us on the map, as a club and as a city” Real Val­ladolid pres­i­dent Car­los Suarez­ta­dio Jose Zor­rilla

top six...Val­ladolid (in pur­ple) won 1-0 at Betis

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