Sevilla’s unpaid debt not alone

As Arouna Kone returned to Levante this summer turning his loan spell into a permanent move, Sevilla football club were happy to turn the page and finish a chapter on a very unsuccessful transfer. The Ivorian was signed for €12m from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven in 2007 having scored 21 goals in 50 games and with two League medals to his credit. At Sevilla he would score once. He went on loan to Levante where he managed to rediscover his form and at the end of the season he moved there on a free transfer and Sevilla thought that was the end. Only it wasn’t.

PSV released a statement, via their website, slamming not only Sevilla but any Spanish club that fails to pay what they owe. Top European clubs have been criticizing the current situation in Spain that allows clubs to owe millions in tax revenue, fail to pay players and run up huge debts whilst they continue to operate in the transfer market, something that in other countries would see clubs fined, deducted points and possibly closed down.

Some Spanish football clubs like Sevilla Football Club SAD, are ignoring contracts and international rules of good behavior. We request the Spanish Football Association and the Spanish clubs, who do comply to decent behavior, to convince other clubs to change these attitudes,” started the statement from the 1988 European Cup winners, which also saw PSV also carefully acknowledge that some clubs do play by the rules.

However, not Sevilla, who PSV say still owe them €2m for Kone. The club claim that the deal with Sevilla included a clause that should the striker be transferred or have his contract terminated that Sevilla must pay PSV an extra €2m. PSV stress that the clause is very simple and straight-forward and that it cannot be misinterpreted. They claim that Sevilla are taking advantage saying that the club know that FIFA are slow to act in these matters and that they might even declare themselves bankrupt so they don’t have to pay.

We urge the FIFA, UEFA, ECA, but especially the Spanish football environment to start working on the improvement of the reputation of Spanish clubs. The first step is to fulfill contractual obligations,” read the final words on the matter from their CEO, Justin Sanders.

The failure to pay outstanding debts is nothing new to La Liga, though. Last season Villarreal president Fernando Roig was forced to write a letter asking Atletico Madrid to pay up their outstanding debt on two transfers. One was a deal for Diego Forlan back in 2007 and another was for another Uruguayan, Diego Godin, in 2010. Atletico ignored the plea and Roig was criticized by some of his own fans for not suing Atletico for the sums owed.

The debt did not prevent Atletico from signing Arda Turan and Radamel Falcao and some believe that had Atletico paid off the debt that Villarreal would have been able to buy a replacement for the injured Giuseppe Rossi and the club would have stayed up. In the end they had no money, so no replacement was signed and they went down, ironically losing to Atletico on the final day of the season.

Another example was Real Zaragoza who signed Ikechukwu Uche from Madrid club Getafe in 2009. Both were preparing for a season that would see them involved in a relegation battle. Getafe had agreed to be paid on a monthly basis. The payments never came and Getafe were unable to sign a replacement for Uche. Unlike Villarreal they managed to survive relegation but President Angel Torres was left fuming. He made a similar statement to that which PSV released but it was ignored.

What both Villarreal and Getafe have in common is that they both play it straight and have no debts. Sadly they remain the minority and should they listen to PSV, and act like the Dutch club have, their demands will fall on deaf ears. But as the recession continues in Spain and the government continues to make cuts in public spending and raise taxes, the issue of tax dodging clubs may come to the front and justice may one day be served.