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New Valencia president Anil Murthy vows to rebuild club for years to come

SINGAPORE — Newly appointed Valencia CF president Anil Murthy, who joined the Spanish La Liga side officially on Saturday, has vowed to overturn the fortunes of the club as it looks to rebuild itself both on and off the pitch.

New Valencia CF chairman Anil Murthy will work on achieving two objectives: improving the club's La Liga standing, and building a sustainable club structure. Photo: AFP

New Valencia CF chairman Anil Murthy will work on achieving two objectives: improving the club's La Liga standing, and building a sustainable club structure. Photo: AFP

SINGAPORE — Newly appointed Valencia CF president Anil Murthy, who joined the Spanish La Liga side officially on Saturday, has vowed to overturn the fortunes of the club as it looks to rebuild itself both on and off the pitch. 

Speaking in fluent Spanish in a video interview on Valencia’s Facebook page, the former Singapore diplomat — who took over the reins from fellow Singaporean Chan Lay Hoon — said he will work on fulfilling the club’s two objectives: Improving its position in La Liga and building a club structure that is sustainable. 

Before the club was bought by Singaporean businessman Peter Lim in 2014, Valencia struggled with massive debt and the club was forced to sell some of its best players to boost its ailing finances.

Three years on, they have finally stabilised under Chan’s stewardship, with Valencia reported to be worth some ¤166 million (S$260 million). However, fans hoping for big signings ahead of the 2017-2018 season are likely to be disappointed.  

Mr Murthy warned that the club needs to remain sustainable in the long-term by working within its “limitations and constraints”. 

“We must build a club structure which works and which is sustainable. Not for one season, but for many years to come. That is the ultimate goal,” he said. “Clubs who only work for the short term often end up suffering because of financial difficulties. 

“We have not been in European competition for two years and our income has been seriously affected, but it is not a question of injecting more money. (Uefa) Financial Fair Play is the rule we cannot breach, and we have to adjust ... and comply with them.”

Despite the challenges, Murthy is optimistic that he and his team can lead Valencia back into the upper echelons of Spanish football.

The six-time league champions have underperformed on the pitch, finishing 12th in the La Liga in the last two seasons. The poor performances led to throngs of angry fans taking to the streets outside the club’s famed Mestalla Stadium to protest against Lim’s ownership. But the club has already taken steps to reverse its fortunes.

It has appointed veteran tactician and former Villarreal manager Marcelino Garcia Toral as head coach and also recently signed Serbian midfielder Nemanja Maksimovic on a five-year deal. 

Marcelino, the sixth coach to take over at Valencia in two years, led Villarreal to three top-six finishes and a Europa League semi-final before leaving the club last year.

Mr Murthy added: “With Marcelino, CEO Mateu Alemany and our sporting director Jose Alesanco, we have a professional management team that know Spanish football well and have already shown their value at the top level and their experience at clubs where the highest of demands are made. We will take the team upwards, but it will not be easy.”

However, it remains to be seen if the fans can be won over. 

Valencia supporter Tomislav Jalzabetic said on the club’s Facebook page: “Murthy, Alesanco and Alemany are all very good at talking, but when it comes to turning these words into actions, then it will show who they really are. Time will tell.”

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