"All our decisions followed the same idea: to make the people of Leganes proud of their football team"
After 4 years in LaLiga you were relegated to the second division. What changed at the club, especially in the non-sports area?
We were relegated to Second division, but the aim to go back to First division is the main goal. To try to get it, the club has decided to invest in sports and in the non-sports area. We have a great opportunity ahead because we get some parachute payments and we have to take advantage of that.
It is true that we do not have the same TV audience nor the same income and sponsorship revenuews because of that. Furthermore, the pandemic has had a huge impact on our plans in terms of ticketing, merchandising and other incomes which depend on the public in the stadium. However, we have a better structure and organization with two more members and more specific tasks in communication and marketing to try to overcome these challenging times in order to be stronger in the future.
How big is the difference between the first and the second tier in terms of revenues – sponsorship and TV money mainly?
It is enormous. Not only because of the relegation, but also the pandemic. Our budget was 55 million in 2019/20, and this season it is 23 million. The biggest part of it is depending on TV rights and as you can see the difference is huge. At the same time, the amount of revenues from our sponsors, ticketing and merchandising have decreased significantly.
You miss the matchday revenues due to Corona. Is it possible to cover that misses other sources?
We are working on it. It is an incredibly difficult scenario, and it is impossible to recover the same amount of revenues in short term, but we are trying to reduce the impact through the development of club digital technology. We needed to update it and work on business intelligence, a data driven approach, etc. We are on a good way.
How important would it be for the financial situation of the club to get promoted again. Or in other words, what would it mean for the club to not get promoted at the end of the season?
If it happens, we would have lost a great opportunity to go back up, because we won’t have the same financial resources in the next season. There are no parachute payments and our budget will be lower, but we do not have debts and we are highly regarded by LaLiga as one of the top five clubs in terms of financial management in the last ten years. Besides of that, we are completely prepared if we do not get promoted again. We have a strong sport and non-sport structure to try it one more time.
You were relegated, Corona is a problem for sports and the society. What were your main tasks over the last weeks and months? Were you as a club able to act or were you forced to react mostly?
This a new and unpredictable situation. We have been working with LaLiga and national institutions to follow the sanity protocols and adapt our stadium, sport center and daily routines in order to guarantee the competition can resume. We are still on it, ensuring that everything is under control and the health of all club members is alright. The responsibility is enormous, and this aspect is our main goal.
Sometimes we were forced to react because there was not time and other times took some measures in advance to be able to prepare as much as possible for the future. Additionally, we have been in touch with our sponsors and our fan base to keep them engaged to the club. One of our measures was to offer our season ticket holders the free renewal for this season. Our city, Leganés, has especially suffered at the beginning of this pandemic causing a huge number of deaths and infected people. A real drama. So we focused on carrying out many social projects. We are part of this city and if our people have to suffer again, it should be with their team, not with this terrible virus.
Spanish clubs turn to be pretty active in terms of internationalization. Even smaller clubs like Eibar are present in Asia. Are you focusing on internationalization as well?
Absolutely. This is one of our areas in which we have improved recently. We have added a new member in the international team and we are really into identifying any commercial and sports related opportunity from abroad to take advantage of that.
Furthermore, I can tell you that we have defined some strategic international markets like the USA, Mexico, Morocco, China and especially Japan. Regarding Japan, we have started an interesting project since the football player Gaku Shibashaki was signed by us. He is a talented player and highly regarded by Japanese people. We opened a Japanese Twitter account and we are working with a Japanese agency to find profitable opportunities, and the results are going well so far.
To you personally. You worked at Leganes for more than 10 years then left the club in January 2019 to come back again in May 2020. What happened?
I always wanted to have the experience of living abroad, but I always delayed it because I had another more important dream. It was based on helping C.D. Leganés from my humble position to be promoted to LaLiga and be a respected football team. It was a promise that I did with my grandfather who passed away when I was just 10 ten years old.
Once we made it, and the club was well organized in the first division and was not dependent on myself, I thought it was time to take a break and fulfil that dream. I took a voluntary leave and I started over from scratch in Australia.
During your first term, the club went from a third tier-club to a LaLiga-club. How did you manage that?
With passion. Otherwise, it would have been impossible. When you have a dream you just have to keep going, keep trying, learning, trying new things, giving your best and put your mind and your heart on it. I never looked at the watch. I did not care. We had to get it, and we did it.
What were the most important decisions you as club made off the pitch to be able to develop and grow in that way?
All our decisions followed the same idea: to make the people of Leganes proud of their football team, and always thinking about our supporters as goal, never as a means to achieve other goals. We worked on creating interest to supporters on the team, and then ensure that we do not put up an economical wall to enjoy the team. Maybe, in the communication and marketing field, one of the most important decisions was to give our campaigns a comical tone which identifies us and makes us recognisable.
Were there any specific projects or developments during that time you would highlight because of their importance for the club’s success?
As you can imagine there many of them, and it is very difficult to choose just one, but I think that our digital posters to promote our matches are our most popular and successful project to increase the value of our brand.