ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Javier Cantero is unlikely to be re-elected as Independiente’s president, firstly because during his term they were relegated to the National B Division and secondly because he did not keep his election promises of putting the club’s finances in order and getting rid of its hooligan gangs.
Both were impossible tasks and he should not have promised it but offered to try; of course, for the majority of fans of the former world and South American champions, solid promises are more enticing than a willingness merely to try.
With no money, Cantero could not strengthen the team to avert relegation (which was also due the to previous season’s poor performances). Nor could he possibly put the club’s finances in order as debtors took the opportunity of claiming debts accrued during the previous administration under Julio Comparada.
Creditors’ claims were received almost weekly. The monthly deficit also continued for various reasons through bad administration which could not be changed easily in a short time.
Also, when Cantero took over, he found the club employed almost 60 professional players for no reason. Most never saw first team action, were owed money and were difficult to shift out because they were not up to first team standard.
Cantero could not possibly kick out the hooligans because he received no help from anybody – Argentine FA (AFA), police, government, courts, etc – while other clubs, who love their hooligans, were even against him.
Even some Independiente committee members resigned but then it is normal for rats to leave a sinking ship.
Independiente posted debts of £39m – an increase of £6m between June 2012 to June 2013. Independiente are effectively bankrupt but proper bankruptcy laws do not exist in Argentina or the club would be no more.
They are also in danger of losing points by order of FIFA, the international governing body, for a debt for a player bought from a foreign club which would spoil their promotion prospects.
Sure, Cantero made mistakes. Club presidents usually do because, as mentioned before, authorities taking over clubs do not have the required administrative capacity. One of his mistakes was that he could not process effectivelyin court accusations against predecessor Comparada for fraudulent administration.
River Plate have the second highest debt while another serious case are Santa Fe’s Colón. The club say they owe £12m which does not seem so much by comparison with other clubs but they have no means of paying. They cannot pay their players (which resulted in them not turning out to play Atlético Rafaela recently) and other employees.
Of course they could afford to pay the fees to buy players from other countries which led to FIFA ordering the AFA to take six points off them for a debt of $802,000 dollars to Mexico’s Atlante. Hence Colón, also, are bankrupt, although their officials are said to be rich.
Colón’s president, Germán Lerche, who has now been forced to resign, must take some blame for unclear dealings.
At the AFA he was in charge of the national teams. Recently he was charged with not paying taxes and was also known for trying to save a hooligan on the run to be freed from being sent to jail. Lerche was a possible candidate to take over from Julio Grondona as president of the AFA in 2015.
Perhaps this is the kind of people the AFA wants.
Racing Club’s debt for the year ending October, 2013, was £13m. They say that, by comparison with debts of other local clubs, they should be satisfied. This seems a lame excuse.
England’s Chelsea declared losses for the last year of £49m (which owner Roman Abramovich could cover any time) but what has that got to do with it? Clubs should not spend more than they earn.
New champions San Lorenzo declared a debt of £24m and finally included the £3m which a former president said he loaned the club. This does not yet mean they will pay it because papers are missing to show how this money was spent.
Even Vélez Sarsfield, always considered a model club financially, admit to a debt of £17m and a loss of almost £4.3m in the last yearly period.
So who makes a profit? No clubs officially but only player agents, some club directors, investors (which should not be allowed), hooligans and other hangers-on.
Who is to blame?
Inefficient club administrators, as mentioned before, and the AFA for not taking proper steps and enforcing its own rules and regulations.