Appearances and bullying, aka “Hee-hon better have my money!”

I will begin by saying that I understand precedent, I understand that legally, a deal is a deal, even if it might not be a deal. I get it. All of it.

But surely, there is a more effective way for our club to extract what it asserts it is owed from Sporting Gijon for the Alberto Botia transfer than to institute legal proceedings. For those who don’t recall, when Botia was tranferred to Sevilla, we were due 30% of the 2.5m transfer fee. That money wasn’t paid, so now we’re exploring the possibility of going after those deadbeats.

Gijon says that it doesn’t owe us anything, and everything was legal and by the letter of the arrangement. So preliminary proceedings have been instituted by us, and we’ll see what transpires. So as I said …. I understand all of the legal, globosocial and potentially nuclear ramifications of Sporting Gijon not ponying up. But there has to be a better way.

The story, for those of you who read Spanish or are slick enough to work Google Translate, is here. The number at issue is $750,000 euros, I think …. I admit to detesting math.

At present, Sporting Gijon is 16th in the Segunda, one spot below RM Castilla, for those keeping score. At the rate things are going, Gijon is closer to the Tercera than La Primera. $750,000 wouldn’t buy any of our notable B teamers, who currently sit at 8th place in the table. Is it really only money, or does how a club comports itself matter in this crazy, crazy world in which we live?

Rubbing salt into the wound is that Botia’s transfer came with a buyback option, one that we chose not to activate presumably because the player didn’t meet our standards. So in effect, we’re suing someone because we sold them a watch that we didn’t want any more. Then, down on their luck, they sold the watch second hand and now we want our cut of the deal because, we allege, we had a deal that we had a deal on the watch deal. Maybe.

Big, bad FC Barcelona tilting after a second-division club for a piddlin’ EUR750k is, from a public relations worldview to this scribe, kinda like the big, muscle-bound rich kid taking after the cobbler’s son and trying to steal his lunch money. Gijon sold Botia because the club needed money. And the dispute continues in the form of the proceedings instituted, which amount to a preliminary hearing. Nothing more could happen, or things could escalate. Time will tell.

But for me, this makes the club look petty. Cheap and petty. The principles are what they are, and if we let Gijon get away with it, what’s to stop a bigger club with a lot more money in the coffers from trying to get away with it? After all, were we to do the gentlemanly thing and find a way to write off $750k — RoSELL managed to find a way to turn a slight surplus into a massive deficit, so surely his accountants would be up to dealing with such a small sum — who knows what sort of madness might ensue? Big club-hired ninjas might just break into the new, glitzy La Masia, stuff one of our talented fledglings in a gunny sack and steal away in the night. Then next day they would ring up and say “Yeah, we got him? What are YOU going to do about it? You let Sporting get away with not paying you!”

I get it, I get it, I get it …. which doesn’t mean that it sits well with me, romantic that I am.

More deals, and the import of history

Via the Twitters and the super-groovy @Barcastuff, I confess to having forgotten that, a long time ago in a galaxy far away, our beloved football club was about to sign one Gerd Muller, the very same dude whose record Lionel Messi is 1 or 2 goals away from, depending upon whether your believe official records or MARCA. Then the Germans and Bayern vetoed the deal, and the club moved on to the No. 2 player on its list …. (drumroll please) ….

Johan Cruijff.

There’s a little story here, and those of you who follow @barcastuff are already filled in.

Sometimes, you wonder about roads not taken, and begin to muse about fate and all that stuff. When I met my wife, and got to thinking I was the luckiest man in the world, I also got to thinking about all the stuff that had to happen to make our paths intersect at that precise point in time. A month earlier, she’s unavailable. If I decide to go to Nationals, I’m not around. Med school instead of journalism, no asthma so no fat tennis player who took up cycling …. Crazy! So it is with this transfer. You almost expect the club to hold Messi out of the rest of the year’s matches, out of gratitude for the deal not done, even if Muller wasn’t really behind its not coming to fruition.

Had the Muller transfer happened, would Cruijff still have come? Would his principles have become part of the club’s way of thinking? What of La Masia, and the magical sprites it has produced? Our roster is the most expensive in world football, and most of it, we didn’t buy, nor could we afford to. But we sure could afford to raise it, and train it in a style, a manner of play that has, in the hands of those wondrous little beings, made us the best football club in the world.

Pretty crazy, when you think about it.

Fullness beckons

The names that are returning just keep coming. Alves, Bartra and Sanchez have rejoined the group. Iniesta is also ready. Messi is allegedly chomping at the bit, mere days after inducing a global seizure. Cuenca could rejoin the club next week and suddenly, the only name absent from the squad list would be Eric Abidal, who had to deal with nasty rumors (denied by the club) that his contract was going to be terminated in January.

Can the rich get richer? Apparently so, and just in time for the rest of the busy, busy season. Can’t wait.

That’s all I got, folks. Discuss!

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. December 7, 2012

    Thanks for this, Kxevin. You said it a lot better than I could have. Business may be business, but there are also ethics, fairness, and the good of Spanish football as a whole to consider. Mes que un club? Prove it.

    The really stupid thing is that the club will probably spend at least as much in legal fees trying to recoup the money as they will eventually get in settlement. It’s just so unnecessary.

  2. blazeofglory
    December 7, 2012

    well I hate to say this but as a matter of fact, the management got to remain emotionless. They are running a club.. and for it to sustain – we hate the very word – it has to be a BUSINESS MODEL! They got to maintain their Cash Flows, sometimes gently, sometimes not.

  3. December 7, 2012

    Not sure if I quite agree with what you are saying, but I sure as hell thank you for saying it!

  4. December 7, 2012

    What exactly more was Barcelona supposed to do, other than forgiving the loan and in that single action opening up pandoras box for every single transfer we have for the next however many years?

    The club pursued other avenues, and Gijon is saying “no we don’t owe you anything.”

    If it was a question of restructuring the payment, sure, work with them. But I don’t see how not allowing a club to STEAL 750000 makes Barcelona look bad.

  5. nia
    December 7, 2012

    I don’t think Barca are being selfish at all. If they had agreed to it, Gijon has to pay. Although i do understand what you are saying but, footbal is a business afterall.

    In other news: Barcelona defender Carles Puyol had minor knee discomfort after the game against Benfica. The staff is monitoring the evolution closely [md]

    I hope it’s not serious. The defence looks a lot calm with him in it. Poor capita, he’s really been unlucky these past couple of yrs.

    • December 7, 2012

      Unlucky? I think it is the natural consequence of his playing style. For his whole career he has put his body on the line for the club, and quite literally.

  6. Skipper5
    December 7, 2012

    are you sayin they should write off the debt or that they should have gone about it in a smarter way? i disagree with the former and as for the latter, it seems to me litigation was sought as final means.

  7. Sangoku
    December 7, 2012

    I get what you mean, but sometimes business is more complicated than it seems. We shouldn’t set such a precedent. Next we know, one of our prospects wants out, is sold to a small club like Gijon, suddenly becomes world class worth 60m and gets transferred to Madrid! Without any compensation for us. Because, you know, we don’t claim them.

  8. Art is a blast
    December 7, 2012

    Well, If I want to lend you some money, I will. Because it is my money.

    If I want you to give me back my money, I expect you to. Because it is my money.

    It is simple as that.

    Btw, I think I saw it somewhere that barca’s new away kit is going to be white to symbolise the white color of Qatar’s NT. I don’t know if it is true but if it is then some of the hardcore EE angels are going to be all over. Well, but they do have the right because they have a record shirt sponsorship…’s money in the end. Also, when madrid and barca play they always wear the home kit. Why? Is it because they are too big?

    • nzm
      December 8, 2012

      Teams only wear their away colours if there’s a similarity in colours between the kits of the 2 playing teams. That’s the reason for having 2nd and 3rd kit choices. The home team always wears their first kit.

      Between Madrid and Barca, there’s no colour clash, but between Levante and Barca there is one. When Levante visits Camp Nou, they’ll wear their away kit while Barca wears the blaugrana.

  9. Srini
    December 7, 2012

    I agree with Kxevin.

    Barca’s twisting Gijon’s ears to make it pay the money it owns will not augur well for its public image.

    Especially when Real Madrid, supposedly and truly EE here, paid what, 100,000 Euros, to help Gijon’s arch rival Oviedo stave off sure dissolution by buying that amount of shares in the club at a time of dire needs.

    I don’t mean to say that Gijon can “welsh” its way through by not giving whats due in a contract, but I suppose both sides could sit down and work out the dues in an amiable fashion. That enhances both Barca’s image as well as makes things easier on the poorer club.

  10. December 7, 2012

    To be clear, this is a dispute. We say they owe. They say they don’t. There has to have been a better way.

    • 505
      December 9, 2012

      very interesting situation, and not a nice one to be in. personally, i think the club should pursue what it is due, not only out of respect for the socis but also out of respect for botia and his value as a player. that said… out of respect for gijon, i do think that things like this should be done quietly. no need to proclaim it on the website/ in the press. it opens both clubs to a lot of judgments and speculations.

  11. December 8, 2012

    1. Botia was sold about 4 months ago. I’m not sure why people are assuming legal action is one of the first actions the club took. It is equally as likely that the club has already worked for 4 months and exhausted every other option. Fact is, we don’t know so the thought that other options haven’t been explored is pure speculation.

    2. It doesn’t matter that Barcelona is worth about a billion times more than Gijon. If they owe us the money and are unwilling to pay it then they are the schoolyard bullies stealing our money.

    • December 8, 2012

      Barcelona owes something like 48 million Euros in tax money to the Spanish government. Where is the outrage over that? Shouldn’t we just stop being bullies and pay it?

      • nzm
        December 8, 2012

        As long as the club continues to make the minimum payments, with interest, the tax department will be happy.

      • Sangoku
        December 8, 2012

        Using that same perspective, should the spanish government write off Barça’s debt?

        • nzm
          December 8, 2012

          They came close to that with Mallorca, but the club did file for insolvency.

          The tax department and other creditors agreed to a 50c in the Euro payment, provided that the whole amounts are paid in 5 years.

          I imagine that the tax department is quite happy receiving the minimum payments from Barca right now, given that the Spanish economy is sending a lot of businesses bust, owing money everywhere.

          • Sangoku
            December 9, 2012

            That’s true.. And, unless I’m mistaken, I haven’t seen reports that suggest Barça are refusing to pay that tax money (now THAT would be something!).

            What I think is that, it’s one thing to owe someone and you don’t have the funds to pay back immediately; then you work something out gentlemanly. But it’s a whole other thing if you owe someone and you don’t agree to pay AT ALL..!

            What’s left here is to determine who is in its legal rights, hence the possibility of a legal tantrum.

  12. yoyoma
    December 8, 2012

    With all due respect but this is ridiculous! If someone owe us the money we should try to get it. No matter if it’s billions or not, we are Mes que un club but we are not stupid.

  13. samarth-culé
    December 8, 2012

    With Europe’s elite all keen to lure Guardiola, Abramovich plans to blow them all out of the water with a massive offer of a £20m-a-year, four year contract, plus bonuses that would easily ensure the Spaniard earns nearly £100m for his troubles and bcomes the world’s highest paid manager.

    My GOD, this is so outrageous!!! ABRAMOVICH!!! :O

    • samarth-culé
      December 8, 2012

      My reaction is just with Roman… Like nothing to do with Pep.

    • December 8, 2012

      Surely Abramovich realizes that it isn’t just about the money for Guardiola.

      • nzm
        December 8, 2012

        As long as Guardiola remembers that, it will all be fine. 🙂

        I can’t imagine anyone with a desire to have a longtime career with a club wanting to go to Chelsea with that man in charge.

        At the rate he’s going, he won’t have left many more top-flight football managers to burn through. You sell your soul when you work for Abramovich – it’s better left for some other manager who has no soul to start with.

        Working with Rosell would be like working with a kindergarten kid in comparison to Roman.

    • December 8, 2012

      If Pep wouldn’t sign more than a one-year contract with the club of his life, why would RA think he would sign a 4-year one with Chelsea? It’s a fantasy, nothing more.

    • December 8, 2012

      There are a few things I’ve learned about football journalism:
      1) Don’t read anything from the Bleacher Report or
      2) Don’t trust twitter on transfer rumors or news
      3) ESPN’s Harry Harris is NOT a credible reporter. I think that name is made up by soccernet.

    • Messiah10
      December 8, 2012

      U know it’s not about the $$$ for Pep, but $100 million would turn anyone’s head! That would set up generations of your family for centuries. I would not blame Pep one bit for taking the job for that kind of dough. He knows he’d get fired eventually anyway, so might as well take the money if it’s there on table!

  14. Larm
    December 8, 2012

    If we get the money does this mean we could make color copies?

  15. mei
    December 8, 2012

    Okay kxevin, you hate Rosell, we get it.
    I don’t like him too though,trying to criminalize any action this board has taken is something else.

    Is there anything this board has done that you have not found wrong, and any rumour that you have let it slide, or even when found false rectified?

    Ibrahimovic deal was a disaster, chygrinski was a disaster,fabregas was too pricy deal for a player we didnt need, adriano was overpriced,as well as alba and alexis.

    The president plots shady economic schemes and doesn’t protect the coach and the club when should.
    Or they go too far and misrepresent it over irrelevant circumstances that make us look worse.

    Is it possible every instict, on any decision, on every crucial or minor aspect of this club,rosell has taken, was wrong?
    This club is the complete opposite of whatever we wanted it to be ?! 😀

  16. Skipper5
    December 8, 2012

    who is it who said ” if you owe me a couple hundred bucks you have a problem, if u owe me a few hundred thousand bucks then i have a problem” Barca has a problem.

  17. ooga aga
    December 8, 2012

    hey! real madrid plays today. with a win they can put the pressure on us. oh wait! no they cant! hahahaha

    • G6O
      December 8, 2012

      52nd min. It’s 2-2. Is it too much to wish for it to stay that way 🙂

        • nzm
          December 8, 2012

          Good match, though. Valladolid did better than I expected of them.

          Madrid looked pretty ordinary for most of the match. They didn’t really gain the advantage until Arbeloa came off for Modric, and they were unlucky with that Ramos goal being judged offside when it was 3 other Madrid players and not Ramos. But confusion happens when there are so many offside players.

          Looks like Oezil is going to become the freekick specialist!

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