This year's football season in Spain is playing out against the backdrop of an even deeper economic crisis in the country at large. Over five million people are out of work now, and predictions are next year as many as six million people--27% of the workforce--could be unemployed.
During the boom years, Spanish football clubs received all sorts of funding from government agencies at all levels, anxious to promote its particular region to holidaymakers, second-home buyers, and tourists. The flow of funds has been reduced, but one Spanish club has now said "Enough!".
Villarreal CF has told two different Valencian Community government bodies responsible for tourism, as well as the Vila-real local government, that it will no longer accept over €3m in grants from them to promote the club this year, and will not accept a similar amount of money due from last year. The money could be better used elsewhere, club president Fernando Roig says, and he's certainly right. Valencia's regional government needs over €3.5 billion in bailouts, pharmacies in the region are conducting a rolling strike because they aren't be paid for the prescriptions they fill, and power companies aren't being paid either.
True, Villarreal's former sponsor Aeroport Castellón (the "airport without planes") is a prime example of the money wasted on ill-conceived construction projects; the airport sponsored the team, and others in the area, for multiple years. Still, Sr. Roig's gesture is a fine one. Unlike pretty much every other team in Spain, Villarreal CF is debt-free, is up-to-date in its tax payments, and owes no transfer fees to anyone. The only downside? The club was relegated last year to the Spanish second division....