Rayo Vallecano got their first top flight win since beating Real Madrid in April 2019 over the weekend with an emphatic and dominant 4-0 victory over Granada. However, despite the momentous occasion, only 583 Franjirojo fans turned up at the Estadio de Vallecas to watch their team’s first home win of the season — even though the capacity limit was around 2,000.
The vast majority of supporters decided to stay away as a form of protest against club president Raul Martin Presa, something that has become a common occurrence of recent times in the Vallecas neighbourhood of the Spanish capital.
Rayistas have a long list of grievances to protest against the ownership, from past season ticket ire to signing a player that allegedly held political beliefs completely contrary to the antifascist values of the vast majority of supporters.
Now, dismal management from club administration in dealing with the logistics of fans returning after the pandemic is driving Vallecanos back to their television screens.
Rayo are the only team in La Liga not to offer season tickets, arguing that the health crisis doesn’t provide the requisite stability nor safety to launch such a campaign. Madrid have also announced they would not be charging their many season ticket holders for the current campaign, but Los Blancos have the added complication of the ongoing works at the Santiago Bernabeu preventing them from welcoming thousands into the stadium.
Instead, Rayo charged fans a flat rate of €25 to see their home opener and only offered specific office-hour times to buy tickets in person as the club have no online ticketing system. Spread out across 19 home league games, this works out as a lot more expensive than season ticket prices; some fans on Twitter pointed out that their average price per game would otherwise work out at around €16.
Relations between the ownership and the proudly working-class fanbase has long been strained – to put it lightly – and now with the return of life into the stadiums of Spanish football, Rayistas feel they are being mistreated and taken advantage of.
Added to this contempt that Franjirojo fans feel is the undignified manner with which the club have treated the women’s team this summer.
Beginning this campaign, the top women’s football division in Spain is turning fully professional, bringing more money into the women’s game and strengthening workers’ rights for the footballers in the so-called Liga Ellas. As part of this, new contracts with new minimum wages and protections must be drawn up at all clubs.
— Rayo Vallecano (@RayoVallecano) August 29, 2021
However, Rayo delayed offering the new contracts and registering the players with the tax office’s social security system, meaning they were not officially considered as employees of the club for weeks after preseason had already started.
The lack of respect given to the squad led the players to effectively go on strike, refusing to train. Spain’s players’ association AFE got involved and filed a formal complaint to the country’s employment tribunal against the “aberration” that is “totally inadmissible” to them.
The labour inspectorate have since opened a case and may yet sanction Rayo for the conduct of the administration that the players’ association describe as “labour fraud.”
After much public pressure was applied, the club eventually started to formalise the situations of the players, but not before releasing their own version of events negating any misconduct, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of fans who are very much fed up with the president and the way their club is being managed.
Between unresolved past discrepancies and a sensation of contempt from the club hierarchy throughout the summer, Rayo fans may be prolonging their protest and refusing to attend games until things change in Vallecas.