Monday, 28 September 2015

Legal complaint filed against Valencia’s owner

Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, who owns Spanish club Valencia CF, has been hit by a legal complaint by former club vice-president Miguel Zorio.


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Legal complaint filed against Valencia’s owner

Unfair administration among list of complaints by former club vice-president

Adelene Wong, TODAY
26 September 2015

Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, who owns Spanish club Valencia CF, has been hit by a legal complaint by former club vice-president Miguel Zorio.

The suit, which was filed yesterday morning (Singapore time) to the public prosecutor of Valencia, is targeted at Lim, football agent Jorge Mendes and former club president Amadeo Salvo. According to court documents obtained by TODAY, the accusations include misappropriation of funds involving the purchase of players by the La Liga club, unfair administration, corruption among individuals and corporate crime.

Spanish media reported that one of Zorio’s complaints was the club’s purchase this season of several players from Portuguese club Benfica who are represented by Mendes.

These include defender Joao Cacelo, 22, who was sold to Valencia for €15 million (S$23.9 million), 22-year-old midfielder Andre Gomes (€15 million), midfielder Enzo Perez (€25 million) who is 29, and 24-year-old winger Rodrigo (€30 million).

Cacelo, Gomes and Rodrigo were sent to Valencia on a season-long loan last season and were purchased before the start of the new season.

“We will not present any complaint against Valencia, but against Peter Lim, Jorge Mendes and former president Amadeo Salvo,” Spanish newspapers quoted Zorio’s complaint as saying.

“Jorge Mendes managed to transfer to the club (players) with above-market prices, and with unknown commissions. Peter Lim should explain why the players (bought by Valencia) are so expensive and always part of Jorge Mendes’ portfolio.”

Lim’s representatives declined comment yesterday when contacted by TODAY, but the club posted a statement on their website dismissing the accusations. “Valencia CF wish to strongly express that accusations made today by Mr Miguel Zorio are completely false,” it read.

“We regret that Mr Zorio did not approach the club at any time to inform himself firsthand, before attempting to attract publicity through baseless accusations that seriously damage the image of Valencia CF and the reputation of those in charge of the club.”

The legal complaint is the latest development in Valencia fans’ growing unhappiness with the club, a year after Lim was hailed as a saviour and given a hero’s welcome after buying 70.4 per cent of the near-bankrupt club last May in a €420 million deal.

He had also promised to turn the club’s fortunes around by ridding the club of their debts and financing the construction of a new stadium.

According to media reports, Spanish fans and journalists in Valencia who spoke to TODAY, club supporters are increasingly unhappy with Valencia’s recent poor results.

Last season, the club qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2012 after finishing fourth in the league. They had finished eighth the previous season.

However, Valencia have started this season poorly. They have won only one of their five matches, and are lying 10th in the league. Fans have openly jeered and questioned the decisions of under-fire coach Nuno Espiritio Santo during matches.

Paco Polit, a sports journalist who reports on Valencia CF for sports website Diario de Mestalla, said: “I don’t really think this lawsuit will harm Lim or Mendes at all … But maybe a small amount of fans may become suspicious, and it will keep the managing board on their toes for a couple of months at least.

“However, when the club bounces back (in terms of results on the field), this will be quickly forgotten. But if bad results keep piling up (it will be a different story).

“The results on the pitch is the dam that contains all the rest of the problems … There is a deeper problem.”

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Sports journalist Chema Mancha, who hosts the radio talk show El Taller Deportivo, said: “I don’t think this lawsuit will affect fans’ confidence in Lim’s project. The man who wants to take Lim and Mendes to court … was involved in several dark situations with the justice … So he hasn’t got a good reputation over here.”

However, Mancha said fans are unhappy because they think Mendes has been influencing the signing of players to Valencia.

However, he added: “The relation between Salvo and Lim is still good. Fans hailed Lim as a hero because Salvo told them he is a hero. The fans are very confident in Salvo. But he fought for Nuno (which forced Salvo out), and now, fans don’t forgive that.”

Valencia fan Vicente Galan said: “For Mendes as a partner or an adviser, it is no good for Valencia. I can assure you that no fan wants Mendes here.”