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David Espinar from Real Valladolid about ownership, growth and the Spanish league

David Espinar, Board and Presidency Director of Real Valladolid explained to us how Real Valladolid has grown, their future plans and challenges for the seasons ahead.

By Bruno Ivich.

How would you describe the general panorama of Real Valladolid?

Real Valladolid is a traditional club that was in the second division of the Spanish league last season, and now back in the first division. This year the club is in a consolidation phase, where Real Valladolid wants to remain on the highest level of Spanish football. At the moment, Real Valladolid has 23,000 season ticket holders, the best in its history. The club has expanded into female football teams, as well as basketball.  

Are there plans to renew or build a new stadium?

At the moment there are not any precise plans to build a new stadium, since the club has constantly renovated their existing one. Real Valladolid has a deep bond with foundations across the city and the province and is always looking at making the club better.The current capacity of the stadium is of 27,612 seats, with a focus on improving the experience, security, and aesthetic side with VIP lounges. The potential expansion of the stadium could achieve around 3,000 additional seats.   

What are some of the most interesting projects that the club is currently working on? 

One of the most interesting projects is related to improving the stadium and the sports training center. The current stadium is old from 1982, so the focus is on providing a better fan experience. In 2019, the club eliminated a pit around the stadium. Now, the focus is on improving the facilities, adding more seats for disabled fans and more VIP lounges. The other project of Real Valladolid is related to expanding the sports training center including a 2000 seat stadium for the second team.

What would you say makes Real Valladolid be a different club from all the rest? 

Real Valladolid is owned by Ronaldo, an iconic and inspirational football legend. Ronaldo purchased majority shares in the club in 2018. This situation is always beneficial due to the media and knowledge he brings into the game. Furthermore, our team shirt is purple and it is simply unique around the world.

From the new ownership, what would you say are the main milestones that have been accomplished in the timeframe of the last 5 years?

In the last 5 seasons, since 2018, Real Valladolid has established a season ticket holder record of 23,000. This number has exponentially increased by 3 times. Besides this, the renovation of our football stadium, increased sponsorship deals and sales in merchandise make us proud. Probably the most important improvement has been the global media attention. 

How do you see moving from the second division to the first division? What sort of implications are there on the sports side and business side? 

The second division league in Spain has 22 teams, which makes the tournament longer than the first division. There are also playoffs so the season is very long. Also, all games are tough and balanced. The quality of the first division is superior, lots of quality and there is a huge gap between the top performer clubs and the rest. On the commercial side, our TV rights revenue has increased by a multiple of 5 with the jump from second division to the first one. In the second division, Real Valladolid was one of the teams with the highest TV rights revenue. 

How has promotion to the first division of the Spanish league increased revenues regarding fan attendance, sponsorship, TV rights, among others?

TV rights for us have exponentially increased, as well as our fan attendance. Before, our historic record of season ticket holders in the second division was 18,000, and now it’s 23,000. On average we have about 20,000 fans in our stadium per game. I would say all metrics increase with the jump to first division including global interest.

What are the main challenges that you see in 2023 and 2024 for Real Valladolid? 

The main challenges for the upcoming years are to remain in the first league of Spanish football and achieve financial sustainability. At the moment our financial balances are negative, and we have compensated them by previous profits from other years. Real Valladolid looks for constant improvement, and there is a strong focus on youth player development and becoming more popular. Four players from our youth system are already playing with the first team, and 2 are regular players.

Interested in sustainability in football?

Attend the FBIN Sustainability Meetup in Wiltz on 12 April.

What are the areas for improvement that you see around the sport and the Spanish league?

I think that TV rights should be more equally distributed among all teams like in the Premier League. On another note, I consider that the relationship and link between the Spanish federation and the league should improve as well as the referee system. The referee system should not depend on the federation, but on the league. This way it is easier to solve disciplinary actions. Moreover, the game itself should have 90 effective minutes rather than added time at the end of each half time. 

What is your perspective about foreign investment into the sport itself?

Foreign investment does good to the sport and it is a sign of a global society. However, investments should not be done based upon speculation because they might deceive stakeholders. The football industry is fragile, and mainly I know that Ronaldo wanted to manage a club, that is his main reason for investment. 

How do you see the growth of Real Valladolid in the near future? Medium term? Long term?

I see Real Valladolid as a strong and modern club, bigger than today. At this moment, Real Valladolid is on the phase of consolidation, with aims of having a competitive and transparent team committed to the community.

What is the overall approach and process of Real Valladolid towards new projects regarding digitalization and technology?

Real Valladolid is open to new initiatives and projects, but we have not done anything innovative related to NTFs and cryptocurrencies. It is a matter of priorities.

How has the club developed through having a public figure as owner such as Ronaldo? What are the implications?

The club has developed deeply with the presence of Ronaldo, especially in markets such as the United States, India, Brazil and China. The interest in the club has grown from 2% to 43% in these markets. Now, Real Valladolid is all around the world on global media platforms. On social media platforms like TikTok, we are the 5th top club in Spain  with more followers, out of the 42 teams in the first and second division. There has been an increase in social media metrics by 200%.

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