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20 Years Ago: Small Spanish soccer club bought by ceramic tile magnate

Sr. Roig purchased Villarreal April 10,1997.

Allen with Sr. Roig and Sr. Llaneza in liverpool, May 2016.
Allen Dodson

Sr. Fernando Roig purchased the shares of Villarreal CF on April 10, 1997. Twenty years that seems like a long time, but also a very short time.

It’s well know that Sr. Roig wanted to get involved in owning a football club, but was thwarted in his effort to get involved with Valencia CF, or even Castellón (who were playing in the Segunda B then, having been a Primera side as recently as 1991). He turned his attention to Villarreal CF.

Villarreal were not exactly a struggling side at the time—they were competing in the Segunda, the highest level they’d ever achieved, since 1992—but they did welcome the investment, which has totalled €180 million over the years.

Sr. Roig was interviewed in today’s EPM and said, perhaps surprisngly given our European adventures, that his “highlight” had to be what happened the very next year. Villarreal finished a comfortable fourth in the Segunda, qualifying for the playoff round. In those days, the top two Segunda clubs were automatically promoted to take the place of the bottom two from the Primera; the 3rd and 4th teams in the Segunda were drawn against the teams finished third and fourth from bottom in the Primera, with the winners claiming a Primera place.

Villarreal were drawn against Compostela, who were no great shakes but finished only a point behind three other clubs. The first leg was drawn 0-0 in Vila-real, but a 1-1 draw in the return leg gave us our first promotion. As Sr. Roig noted, we had a limited team, but we had a great keeper. Compostela were confident, especially after the first leg, but we turned the tables!

As for his hardest moment, no surprise there—our relegation in 2011-12. It was hard for him to accept as president, and the following season was ‘the most difficult I have experienced in football’. I couldn’t agree more! But we made it, that season provided many memorable moments, and here we are fighting again for a European place four years later.

Do any of you have particular highlights/lowlights of the last 20 years? Comment below! Endavant Villarreal!!