Jose Maria del Nido took over as president of Sevilla in May 2002 and oversaw an unprecedented period of success for the club. Back to back UEFA Cup wins in 2006 and 2007, a UEFA Super Cup, Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup, plus Champions League qualification in three consecutive seasons. But that cycle has long since expired and their current perilous financial status resulted in the club announcing in April that the whole squad was up for sale.
Del Nido conceded: “Every single player has a price and any of them could leave us in the summer”. They eventually parted with almost £80m worth of talent, as Manchester City accounted for half of that amount with the purchases of Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas. Defensive midfielders Geoffrey Kondogbia and Gary Medel departed for Monaco and Cardiff City respectively, while Luis Alberto joined Liverpool and Jose Campana left for Crystal Palace. They reinvested around £30m, drafting in the likes of Vicente Iborra from Levante, Kevin Gameiro from Paris Saint-Germain and Club Brugge’s Carlos Bacca, plus several loan signings.
Dtwel Niro has since claimed that the club is now in rude financial health, revealing: “To cover our budget, we need to make sales of around €20 million a year. We needed to balance the books and that’s what we’ve done. Are we the most financially healthy club in Spain? Along with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao, we’re there and it’s not just me saying that, it’s what the LFP have said.” Unfortunately, del Niro’s immediate future is far more perilous.
He was handed a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence in December 2011, relating to financial irregularities in dealings with the former mayor of Marbella between 1999 and 2003. A judicial review is forthcoming, but del Nido insists that plans are in place should he be incarcerated and that Sevilla would not be affected. The likelihood is that his son would take over temporarily in his absence.
To make matters worse, Sevilla made their worst start to a season in 55 years, winning only one of their first seven fixtures, but del Nido swiftly jumped to the defence of under fire manager Unai Emery. “Considering the position of the coach? When there have been 14 signings and the team has changed radically, it would not be good for the project. You have to be calm, we have been to Camp Nou and Mestalla, have hosted Atletico Madrid, and that should be taken into account.” They have now crept up to mid-table but are faring far better in the Europa League, where they top Group H after two wins and a draw in their opening three games.
Of the new signings, Kevin Gameiro has impressed with six goals in ten appearances and Marko Marin has also proved to be a huge hit with fans. There is a campaign to find the on-loan Chelsea midfielder a wife in an attempt to keep him in Adalusia, after Ivan Rakitic decided to remain in Spain after meeting his wife in the area.
They may no longer boast Dani Alves and Sergio Ramos calibre players or challenge the elite, but Sevilla are still making an impression on a more modest budget after a huge overhaul. Unfortunately, more upheaval and uncertainty appears to be imminent.
By Scott Johnson
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Scott is the author of The Blues Are Up – Cardiff City’s rise to the Premier League