Brazilian becomes majority owner of Liga side Real Valladolid
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 Suarez
home...estadio Jose Zorrilla
top six...Valladolid (in purple) won 1-0 at Betis