Interviews

LENDOIRO – PART I: "I WON'T LEAVE THE CLUB"

03 Jan 2007
Things aren't going so well for Deportivo. The last series of results is creating a lot of doubts about the squad and also about the work of the board of directors. President Lendoiro has received a lot of criticism and was whistled during the last board meeting. Now, Depor's president defends his work in two interviews that he has given during the last hours. Today we present the first interview with <i>El Pa?­s</i>. Tomorrow our readers will be able to see the second interview, with <i>Depor Sport</i>.

El Pa?­s: Augusto C?©sar Lendoiro is in his club’s headquarters. He doesn't like to use the cell phone, but this journalist is able to find him although it was early in the morning. He used to answer the phone by himself, but it’s possible that he imitates other voices in order to pretend he isn't there, a fact he admitted with a laugh. "It has happened before.â€?  During the hour that we spoke, he only smiled twice. The man who proudly announced "Barca, Madrid we are here!" is experiencing one of his worst moments, but has said that he wants to continue.

Q: People say that you are leaving the club.
A: That’s not what I want. I don't know if other circumstances can influence this, but I am not thinking about leaving the club.

Q: You announced that the club will modify the rules in order to allow others to acquire more than 1% of the club's shares. Is this a sign?
A: No. We tried to realise an increase in capital of €60 million, but it wasn't possible, maybe because the team’s results weren’t so good. And if we weren't able to do it by ourselves, somebody else will have to do it for us. I hope that these people would be from La Coru?±a, Galicians or at least Spaniards. The club needs money that the city can't afford.

Q: So, will you continue to be the president?
A: Maybe. Maybe the new owner will find somebody else.

Q: What remains after 18 years?
A: Well, we came when the club was full of troubles and now, we are going through one of the toughest moments of recent times. We were La Liga champions, we ended in the second position on four occasions, and on four other occasions we were third. We won two Copas and three Supercopas, and were semifinalists in the Champions League. We created the city of Abegondo and the Playa Club.  We created new businesses, the Deportienda, Deporcl?­nica...there are good and bad memories.

Q: Bad moments? Are you talking about the insults that you received during the last board meeting?
A: The world of football is like that. It's curious, we won with 90% of the votes in every poll that was presented to the shareholders, but it seems that the 10% minority is the winning side. A majority in silence against a minority that was tough and angry. It seemed that anything was valid

Q: Is it worth continuing?
A: Some people believe that when things are going wrong the guilty person is the president, but it seems that when the things are okay the success is a product of other factors. I think it’s unfair to deny the reasons why we reached the highest point. Now we are fighting to renew our squad and create a new project.

Q: Is it true that the club has only three directors: Augusto, C?©sar and Lendoiro?
A: And six more. The greatest decisions were always taken by unanimity.

Q: You have acknowledged that you committed errors during your presidency. What are they?
A: The biggest one was trying to please all Depor fans and Galician supporters. I believed in the promises that were made to me in the economic aspect.  These promises were never fulfilled. We had teams that were successful just because we took big risks. We are much too optimistic when things are okay, and excessively pessimistic when times are tough.

Q: Some shareholders are saying that the club’s accounting is unclear. Are you afraid of the consequences?
A: No. During the club’s economic difficulties, the public institutions should be helping because football is a business that we are never sure will be profitable.

Q: Why aren't these institutions helping Depor? Do they distrust your work?
A: They never wanted to help us.  Maybe it is envy. But it's clear that this isn't an accident. It's a matter directed by somebody.

Q: Do you feel alone?
A: No. I am not alone in the economic aspect. For example, a paper in Galicia is doing every possible thing in order to suffocate us (La Voz de Galicia). But in other aspects, I feel the support from everybody, even people in the street.

Q: Do you walk to the Riazor everyday?
A: Yes, since the beginning.

Q: Will you continue to face the situation?
A: Yes, it's a reason for me to be here.

Q: Why aren't you revealing the names of the entities that owe  €117.3 million to the club?
A: Because they are paying at this time, and you can't tell their names to everybody when they are fulfilling their obligations. The same goes in the opposite direction, you can't be recognising a debt that you are paying.

Q: The club has a debt of €146.2 millions. Isn't this too much?
A: A lot of people think that you have to pay this debt now. You have to understand that the major part of the debt is related, for example, to the city of Abegondo, a place that's here forever. The same goes for the Playa Club, a 3,000-metre hotel that's only eight metres away from the Riazor beach.

Q: You were considered a good negotiator and now everybody has doubts about you.
A: In football, these are the rules. And you may see me at the top once again. What people can't take are my achievements at Depor. History will talk about titles. And we achieved them despite the fact that the official institutions in the city were against us.

Q: How did we end up in this situation?
A: At the beginning, there was a political reason: Francisco V??zquez was the candidate of the PSOE (Socialist Party) and I was the candidate of the PP (Popular Party). There was a confrontation and we never talked, because he never wanted to talk.

Q: Why are the club’s greatest players going out through the backdoor?
A: I don't like personal tributes. I think they are unfair.

Q: Why didn't you recollect any money from the exits of Scaloni and Munitis?
A: For different reasons. In the case of Scaloni, we assumed it wouldn’t happen.

Q: The future of Depor?
A: Very good. We are in the middle of a transition. When things were okay, we said that the difficult times would arrive. These are young players. Besides, we suffered through the complicated injuries of Andrade and Valer??n, and later the case of Bodipo. These are circumstances that can occur at any moment.

Q: Your first project was to build a squad with discarded players from other clubs, then the second one was to use big money in order to sign important players. Now you are betting on young promises. Who suggested the idea of the 'Baby System'?
A: It was ours and of course Caparr??s’. We searched for a trainer who was betting on youngsters and had a sensational start. Now things are a little out of order, but we will find our course.

Q: Aren't you afraid of ending in Segunda?
A: No. I don't think about it.

Q: Do you trust in Caparr??s despite his errors in the lineups?
A: Yes, so much so that we renewed his contract this past season. We knew that this project wasn’t something that would only take a year.

Q: Do you see a Depor without you?
A: Of course. And it has to happen soon. Nothing lasts forever.

Q: But you said that you don't want to leave.
A: And I don't want to quit, but I don't want to talk about the future. We are now working on the next season.

Q: So, how long will you stay?
A: In a phrase: it depends on the ball.

Q: It seems that an opposition has formed within the club.  Some people are trying to reunite the 5% of the shares in order to ask for an external audit.
A: Everyone is free to do what they want.

Q: Will you come back to political life?
A: I don't think so, but I don't discard that possibility.

Q: You have your sons working in the club. Nepotism?
A: I have to, because my daughter only earns money if she brings new publicity for the club. We are proud of how things are working out in their enterprises. The one who directs the Playa Club is receiving the 10%.  If he weren’t my son, he would be receiving the same 10%.

Q: You are earning 1% of the budget since the 1999/2000 season.
A: Yes. I became a 'professional' because the pe?±as asked me to join the club and leave political life. I have been in the club since 1988 and I never received a penny for it.

Q: Can you say that you haven't stolen anything from Depor?
A: I can shout it.

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