Angel Torres vs. The people

It was the last day of the season and the ground was surprisingly packed with fans supporting their team. Getafe had never seen the likes of it. They had played memorable games against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich before now, but the support at their ground had never been like this. Fans sang, chanted and laughed. It was an atmosphere never before seen in the southern suburb of Madrid. However, that support was the Real Zaragoza fans. Usually small in number anyway, Getafe fans were particularly few and far between at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez that day.

Los Azulones had raised their prices for the final game of the season. They claimed that they needed the extra income, a claim that was very true but they still got ridiculed for it, as Zaragoza secured League status in a game that their support had almost turned into a home match.

Getafe’s President Angel Torres lives by a golden rule – ‘don’t spend what you don’t have’. A rule that is often ignored by most clubs in Spain. Last season they had their budget reduced by over €6m, a figure of around 30 per cent of their total budget, as they lost key funding. The biggest loss had come when the local city council were forced to cut the grants they had been giving the club. Now the club have lost their main sponsor and fans are not happy. Torres doesn’t seem to care.

The Madrid side are accustomed to being a footnote when it comes to football in capital. Since Rayo Vallecano has returned to the top flight they have been relegated to being the city’s fourth team. They usually occupy a few columns in the daily sports pages, if they are lucky, but this summer the side has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

At the end of May, a fan protest was organised outside Coliseum Alfonso Perez. For some the word ‘fan’ was the perfect description. Getafe’s attendance or lack of has often been the butt of many a joke across Spain but they do have some very passionate supporters and they were angry at their club’s management. Angel Torres came out and addressed the fans but not in the way they wanted. When asked about answering to fans he was very bullish.

“Only to the shareholders and to my family [will I explain the financial situation of the club]. Getafe is a private company and it can do what it wants with its own money,” he declared.

“It’s the shareholders who have come and put in their own money because football is in ruin, we all know that. I don’t have to give explanations to the Press or to anyone.”

Reports that he then did a version of the famous Helen Shapiro song slightly changing the words to ‘It's my football club and I’ll do what I want to’ have not been confirmed. What was confirmed, though, was that Torres was going head to head with fans and not for the first time.

Racist monkey chanting towards black players has long been a problem in Spanish football. Clubs seem to bury their heads in the sand as do the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). In 2005, Samuel Eto’o was the victim of racist chanting in the Coliseum. The RFEF fined Getafe and Torres at first was defensive about his club. However, he later changed his tone when he blamed Getafe fans saying that if 50 fans were involved in racist chanting it was the responsibility of the other 2000 close to them to make it known to the police. He then said that if he heard any racist chanting from his own fans that he would come down from the Presidential box and escort those involved out by the ear. Getafe fans were outraged as they have always claimed their innocence in the Eto’o affair and they were disappointed that the club was not standing by them.

Last year it was announced that the Royal Emirates Group from Dubai were to buy the club. At the Press conference to announce the deal, Torres seemed to know very little of the ins and outs of the deal. Then things went quiet with Torres claiming that the deal was in place but would take place over the course of a few years. Then it was announced that the group from Dubai were ignoring all calls. In June this year it was said that it was hoax and some fraudsters targeting football clubs who were short on cash were arrested, but Torres has come out and said that Getafe were not part of the con and referenced the fact that he had travelled to Dubai and met the Royal family of Dubai. On radio, television and in the papers he has protested that those who were arrested were not the group that had come to Getafe and that the deal was still on.

As Torres, who is a Real Madrid Socio, continues to claim that the deal with the Dubai group is still on, as the club continue to otherwise sell players to balance the books. Luis Garcia was enticed from Levante with a three-year deal and a promise of investment. The highly rated Coach turned down offers from big clubs this summer but for how long can Getafe keep him if they continue to cut the budget?

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