Yesterday’s defeat leaves Real Murcia relegated to Segunda B all but mathematically. The defeat, along with Mirandés victory, leaves us 5 points from safety, with 6 to play for. One could say that it is still possible, but the reality is that, in Spanish football, amongst professional footballers there no spirit of honesty or to fight to the end, whatever the circumstances, that there is in other countries. To think that Sporting Gijón are going to offer much resistance away to Mirandés on the last day, is wishful thinking. Our battle now is to finish as high as possible. Only other team’s even worse economic chaos that may lead to administrative relegation can save us from a deserved relegation.
Deserved in the sense that we don’t seem to have learnt anything from the past. The same old mistakes. Chairman Samper came out after the game in an improvised press conference, and it was another error. Visibly affected (I’m not sure if by the situation or by something else) and wheezing loudly like an emphysema sufferer, he looked a broken man. I am one of those who believe that Samper wants to do well. But one thing is his desire and another altogether the capacity or ability to do so. It is clear that Real Murcia is being used to leverage political influence for his other projects in the region, but I refuse to think that he is trying to fail. He came out yesterday to face the music, but the result was horrible. Like it usually is. Without a script and just batting press questions way. Defeat was amongst the probable outcomes, and it was another failure to prepare not to have something specific prepared for that scenario. It was clear that whatever he said in that situation wasn’t going to get a great reception, but just to ad-lib with long spluttered answers, when faced by an already upset audience, only served to increase the anger. A “mea culpa”, I’m still here, wages will be paid, we will fight to return, and that the team will not be abandoned to die would have been enough. An “I’m sorry”.
I’m not the best to make a comparison with other times. But in my 24 years supporting Real, I’ve only seen 2 seasons in Primera, both with Samper as chairman. Very bad seasons, yes, but in the division that Murcia says it should be. Nowadays I don’t think anybody would deny the fact that back in 1998 Samper saved a moribund and crumbling Real Murcia when no local backer arrived. He had the business vision to ally the construction of a very necessary new stadium with that of a massive shopping centre. There is no doubt that the business risk he took has created profits (although many people confuse the price he sold the shopping centre for with profit, without counting the cost of construction). Fair and lawful profits. No possible objection. But he has not completed on his obligations to Real Murcia, the vehicle he used and without whom it would have been impossible to carry the whole New Condomina project out. He inherited a team who didn’t own their stadium and had no fixed training facilities. We still have no stadium we own, and none of the training facilities he promised and that were in the original plans. And now we have a debt that is many times more than the one he inherited. We do have amongst our assets the inadequate Cobatillas training pitch (although I don’t know its value, it won’t be very much).
On the pitch it isn’t much better. Since 1928 when the first Primera competition took place, Real have had 16 seasons at the top level until Samper’s arrival in 1998, an average of 1 every 4,375 seasons. Under Samper 2 seasons in Primera in 15 years is an average of 1 every 7,5 seasons. Just about within the mediocre limits of the club’s history, but worse in direct comparison. He inherited a club in Segunda B, and mathematic confirmation apart, next season we will be at that same level.
You can say that the facts are that economically his reign has been a failure (I can’t think that the Cobatillas ground is worth more the the debt created), and in sporting terms he has worsened an already mediocre record.
Socially, the positive note is that the number of season ticket holders has doubled (although we would have to see what the number is next season), there are more supporters clubs, the club does have exclusive use of the new stadium (cold, underused neutral and recently un-kept, but new) and we have an official club radio (recently only transmitting via the internet). Thousands of children have visited the New Condomina stadium on school visits. I’m sure there are more things I can’t remember.
The negatives are many. The relationship with local and regional politicians seems to be cold or inexistent. The price of tickets and season passes for the Lateral are too high and the emptiness is proof of that fact. There are no price reductions for juveniles or kids, which is a crass error. But worst of all is that being a Real Murcia fan in Murcia has become like a sect, and to be the target of ridicule and animosity from the majority of the population. Part of the blame can be laid at the door of the 2 giant teams that dominate everything in Spanish football, and with a local press who in general seek to do damage, to mock, and that tries to guide the indecisive to be negative. That makes it very difficult to have a stadium full of people in favour of Real Murcia.
It seems Real Murcia is a hostage. Handcuffed by debts generated under Jesús Samper, with no escape unless someone pays the ransom. The club will continue to make a loss – I can’t see that there will be a sudden change of course – that will make a buyer ever more difficult to find, that is if there is anyone really interested. In any case we don’t know what price is being asked. The rumour is of a high price, which includes the money Samper has used to cover deficits. This I don’t understand, and is something that can’t be widespread in business circles. Demand that a buyer returns money used to cover previous bad management? I thought that the price of a business was the sum of its assets. In Real Murcia’s case, Cobatillas, the players’ contracts, office furniture, and a value placed on the Real Murcia name and social status, and a long etcetera of smaller items. Have I forgotten something obvious? What is usually counted is that the business is a loss maker. The new owners would have to make changes and strive to reduce losses. The sellers have to include in their calculations the fact they are free from any future losses. If Real Murcia is to carry on the same, to sell for a symbolic 1 euro and forget or significantly reduce the demand to recover funds already invested, would me Samper can save the money he would use to cover deficits his administration would continue to generate. At a rate of 2 or 3 million euros per season, you can calculate that in 3 years that is between 6 and 9 million. If there is a serious buyer, that is how the sale should work. I’m not saying to sell for 1 euro, but that the price should be the real worth. If we said 4 million, plus say 2 or 3 recovery of what he’s invested is 6 or 7 million, Add the 6 to 9 he’ll save by getting out and you have a value of 12 to 16 million. But we are talking about an owner who describes himself as stubborn and obstinate – so how can a deal be done?
I can understand the fans reaction after the game yesterday. But I can’t agree with insults hurled a certain players. Matilla didn’t deserve it. In my opinion he was one who tried, and contributed with 10 or 11 goals. Against Sabadell, Guadalajara and Ponferrada we didn’t take our chances. Goals were always where this team were weak since the start, but in December, whilst other relegation threatened teams strengthened, our owners didn’t think it necessary. Back then Hércules and Sporting were many points from safety. Look at them now.
We can now only hope and send our support to the many players who do care, to the club employees again living through the anxiety of relegation, and to the long suffering faithful supporters (not the fair weather kind), who will again be back building their hopes up in summer, wherever we are.