The summer of 2010 was always going to be a difficult one for Real Mallorca. After years of bad management, selfish management and everything else the situation had reached boiling point. With debts of around £51.3m, the club was declared insolvent by Spanish courts. Players went unpaid, clubs went unpaid and then Los Bermellones was soon back in the hands of previous owner Mateu Alemany after the disastrous reign of Javi Marti Asensio.
Alemany tried to reshape the club, but the task was a large one. It was massively out of shape, financially. And despite many meetings with the RFEF and creditors, Alemany’s hand was forced.The club was declared bankrupt in May 2010 with Alemany stating that “too many clubs are failing to live within their means, including ourselves. It cannot continue. And there will be many clubs who see this come to a head now. Bankruptcy is the solution and not the problem.”
It was unfortunate that the club’s financial issues overshadowed a tremendous season. Despite constantly being forced into rebuilding his squad, Manzano masterminded his way to 5th spot in La Liga and was one freak, last minute goal away from the Champions League. This was despite all staff members going unpaid, he managed to keep morale high and his “surprisingly void” relationship with Mateu Alemany quiet. For the good of the team.
Hard adjustment plan
In June 2010, former manager Llorenç Serra Ferrer took over the club with a controlling share whilst the Nadal family took up a 10% share and a number of other investers got involved. And the task wasn’t as a simple as it sounds. Making the club financially viable. It was deemed a ‘hard adjustment plan‘, masterminded by Serra Ferrer and the club’s administrators.
It didn’t start too well though for Serra Ferrer. The squad inherited was untalented, over-the-hill and overpaid. It had no future. And as the club was reshaping, they couldn’t afford to renew super-manager’s Gregorio Manzano contract. Everything had to change.
The 2009/2010 operating budget of £29.5m was slashed to just £12.6m for the 2010/2011 season. The aim was to clear it’s debts by the end of the 2010/2011 season, meaning an extra £24.6 million gap needed to be plugged. Desperately.
This was proved when they jumped into a contract with kit supplier Macron in April 2010 to bring in money in a quick manner. They also sold the stadium name for just £850,000 for three seasons compared to the £3.2 million contract brought in in the summer of 2006 for four years. They also signed a one-year shirt sponsorship with Bet-at-home.com for just £650,000.
TV is the main source of income for the club. The Mediapro Group, despite having financial difficulties themselves, will still pay the club £12.3 million for TV rights whilst local station IB3 will pay £2.4 million for limited coverage. An extra £4.4 million will be brought in from other sponsorship deals, such as advertising hoardings in the Iberostar Estadi.
And after being expelled from the Europa League, the club were hoping to recover between £2.5m and £3.2m in damages from UEFA. But this was thrown out in court.
Exclusion hard comings
Naturally, the club was not happy with the exclusion from the Europa League. In many arguments with both the President of Villarreal (the club who replaced Mallorca in Europe),Fernando Roig, and UEFA president Michel Platini.
In an exchange with Platini, they stated that Platini’s argument that the RFEF wrongly gave Mallorca a UEFA Licence meant it should be the federation who was punished and not the club. And the fact the club was punished had no legal ground.
In retaliation to provocation from Roig, the club launched a scathing attack saying Villarreal was closer to extinction considering their Artificial Economic Structure was the worst in the country and that should their one financial partner withdraw, their £197.5m debt would cripple the club and lead to it disappearing completely.
Rebuilding the squad… For the last time?
Serra Ferrer appointed Danish legend Michael Laudrup as manager. Signed on a (very) low salary, Laudrup will be seeing Mallorca as a stepping stone to bigger clubs in Spain. Spain is where Laudrup wants to be.
Under the new squad profile, the aim was to develop young players. This meant no old, overpaid players. Many contracts were rescinded. And an unspoken wage cap of £10,000 p/w was put in place. With Serra Ferrer overseeing, Nunes as captain and Pep Marti as vice captain, a new look, young Mallorca site was to be built for the final time. No more rebuilding a squad every season.
And looking to the future, the club are looking to extended it’s training facilities at La Ciutat Esportiva. Expansion plans including a housing unit for 28 young players. The summer was hard, and the season to come was even harder. But plans for the future were bright.
A Bright Start
The club’s season started brightly. A 0-0 opening day draw against Real Madrid at the Iberostar Estadi and wins over Osasuna and Real Sociedad at home saw them take 7 points in the opening month, leading them to mid-table. They also went on to record impressive wins in the Mestalla against Valencia as well as away to Manzano’s Sevilla.
But the team were inconsistent. The team suffered disappointing losses to Sporting Gijón, Espanyol, Real Zaragoza, Getafe and Racing. Games they really should’ve been taking points from. Aouate sent out a warning. The second half of the season is always much harder. It was.
Meanwhile, the club had some more negative publicity enforced on it when shirt sponsors Bet-at-home published a number of risqué advertisements. And they were also forced into dismissing President Josep Pons after allegations made about sexual harassment when he worked as a Spanish ambassador in his earlier years.
Troubled Transfer Window
It was a busy transfer window for Mallorca. The team needed strengthening but they had next to no funds. Misfiring Chori Castro had been transfer listed. The club had signed unknown Akihiro Ienaga. In fact, it seemed half of the squad was set to leave in the final week of the window. Unsettling to say the least.
Deals for Aki, Corrales and Cavenaghi seemed to be complete just the very next day.
The signed, sealed and delivered transfer of Anthony Ujah fell through. Mallorca claimed that Lillestrøm asked for more money with just moments of the window to go. The player’s agent claimed that he became worried when the club couldn’t give a bank guarantee. However, the club responded by stating that the administrators offered to draw up a document which means that they were responsibile for the transfer. This carries more of a guarantee than a bank guarantee.
What doesn’t change is the fact the transfer fell through. Mallorca were a striker down after Fernando Cavenaghi completed his move away from the club. In fact, all but one of the transfers or non-transfers did damage in some way.
Aki couldn’t find a club on loan and Castro’s deal fell through meaning that the team had four non-EU players. So Ratinho ended up joining São Paolo on loan leaving Mallorca with just one recognised right back. Enrique Corrales’ proposed move fell through. And, more thankfully, so too did Iván Ramis’.
Following the transfer window, the team never really managed to recover their good form. Mallorca only managed to amass 17 points in the second half of the season. And if the first half of the season had the exact same results, the team would’ve finished in 19th place.
Disappointing losses to the previously mentioned Sporting Gijón, Real Sociedad, Deportivo, Málaga, Racing and Almería summed up the second half of the season. The question is why it happened. Was it Laudrup’s absurd marginalisation? Was it another part of Laudrup’s management ability? Was it bound to happen due to the experience and ability of the squad. Or was it due to the extremely unsettling transfer window?
There’s no real answer. Perhaps the performance through the 2011/2012 season may shed some light. But there was no doubt that the final six months of this season made it very difficult to be a Mallorquinista.