Layhoon Chan, Valencia’s current and first female president, let the travelling journalists from Las Provincias and Levante-emv in on some of the plans for the future Valencia. The plan of course follows the master lines from the contract regulating the sale of Fundación’s shares in the club, but some more details were shed light on.
Building a Team
Evil tongues would say Valencia’s only transfer strategy is listening to Jorge Mendes, however, what we see is the careful roll out of a plan and strategy the club’s management have set up and follows. Layhoon explained that after the initial investment, Valencia will now focus on young players with high potential. Valencia will not be the one shopping for big name signings every time. The most important guideline for the club now is building a strong base, increase the solidity of the team and not at least form a strong bloc. As Layhoon says, that was the secret of Rafa Benitez’ title conquering team.
Layhoon continued to state that, bar 2 or 3 further changes, and assured that Nico Otamendi will stay in the team, they consider the team stronger than last year’s, and they expect that the investment made will pay off. “Of course we expect to be better team, we have invested a lot of money. The truth is Valencia is looking to be a very solid team rather than signing superstars. This is so because we have seen that the team has always succeeded in the past when it was a strong bloc.”
Valencia’s acquisitions from the market are made after consensus between Peter Lim, the sports management and advisers such as Jorge Mendes. The line to follow is clear; young players with a lot of talent. To this line, the 3 signings made are perfectly adjusted; Bakkali, Mina and Danilo. “It is what we want. Our goal is to establish a team on medium to long term, as you can see through the transfers made the last weeks. We believe with the investments made last year we acquired the main pieces and that now we are completing with the young players who are talented and ambitious, so that the club step by step improves into becoming a stronger club in the next years.”
Asked about Valencia’s main goal, Layhoon states: “Our objectives are very clear. Firstly it is passing the playoff for Champions League. If we achieve that, the next objective is to compete in the tournament and secure qualification year after year.”
The new stadium continues to be one of the main pending tasks for the project. The finalization is planned for the club’s centenary in 2019. Layhoon had one very telling statement; “We want to recreate the atmosphere of the old stadium”. This desire has led the club’s new owner and management to scrap the previous design and restart the whole job. This is also one of the reasons that the club is taking it’s time. Rather than having a top modern stadium anno 2006, they want a modern stadium anno 2019.
“The plan for the new stadium is a grand project, very important for the club. We are analyzing with great care every detail. The stadium was designed several years ago, and we need to look at a new stadium because it was done years ago and today there are new materials, new ideas and new concepts. We want a stadium adapted to today’s reality, not one designed 9 years ago. We have to construct a new and modern stadium, and that is what we are studying. What we will construct is a new project compared to the original, using what is already there. The objective is having a cutting edge stadium, more than have something as it was designed (by Fenwick). I think that the plan will require more time and patience, because it is important to to design a new stadium and not finish the current one, that is the difference.”
One thing made a certain impression on Peter Lim the first day he went to the current Mestalla was the sheer force of the fans. He was left with great admiration for the Curva Nord zone, capable of inspiring the rest of the stadium, and this warmth of the fans is something he wants to transfer to the new stadium. Layhoon insists that they have been very clear with the team working on the new stadium project. “We were very clear with the architects, our objective is making a stadium that helps us win, not only a pretty stadium. The most beautiful thing is when the opponents arrive and have a lot of respect for us and the fans close to them. The concept is the same, not transfer and create a new stadium that lacks potential. We want an old Mestalla in the new Mestalla.”
The fans have also left a strong impression with Layhoon who talks with passion of the training session where more than 3000 attended: “The love from the fans make me very happy, even if I think it was not an absolute record, as I remember one with 5000 (at Mestalla). I think it is very nice and a good omen for the season. We are very happy with the support given by the fans to the project and the team.”
The trip to China was the first in which Peter Draper, popularly nick named “don Draper” after the main character of HBO’s Mad Men, represented the club as head of marketing. Earlier this month Louis Douwens left the club with Amadeo Salvo.Building Valencia’s world wide brand is one of the main pillars of the project to create a greater inflo of cash. “Asia is a very important market and now with the new TV rights deal, a new era opens in the internationl markets. It is something very important for all the teams in La Liga. Asia is a market where we can increase in the number of followers and our plan is to play matches in Asia frequently.”
Draper has initiated work with a strategy that will fully enter into play from next season.Already in Beijing he hosted the club’s guests, but did not let the opportunity to observe China’s impressive national stadium up. It was a perfect practical example of what Valenica’s new stadium should aspire to marketing wise, among other things due to the new concept for VIP boxes.
Peter Lim’s project thus follow the lines drawn out in their bid to acquire Fundación’s shares. With a mid to long term view on achievement of success, they will try to build stone on stone to achieve a place between the best of Europe. Keywords to remember are bloc, doing things right and of course patience. Those who expected an early Manchester City or Monaco spending spree, have seemingly mistaken the project. Youth as a basis for the project seems to have come to stay.