After a very exciting season due to the farewell of the Vicente Calderón, the club faces a historic moment: the inauguration of the Wanda Metropolitano. What is the new stadium going to mean for the club?
I sincerely think that the farewell of the Calderón has been filled with feeling, with values, of the identifying traits of the club. Everyone who has worked in the farewell events have done it with the hope of thanking both the stadium and the fans and players, and with the obsession of respecting Atlético de Madrid’s history and the president who constructed it.
The construction of the new stadium undoubtedly means a step forward to modernity, new services offered, comfort for the fans, safety, access to new technologies, ultimately, to show the world that the growth of Atleti is not exclusively sports-wise, but it is also in infrastructure, heritage and service to the fan.
The first months of life of the stadium will logically be of adjustment; we will all have to learn together to get to know and enjoy our new house.
How are the works of the stadium advancing?
The people working on this project are conscious of the challenge that we have before us. There are many parts involved in it.
I would like to thank all of them for the effort they are making. First, to this group of people from the club that has left aside almost everything at the personal level to reach the goal. Also to the Government, City council mainly, as well as the Community and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, together with FCC - the construction company-, Cruz y Ortiz, the Project Management, each and every one of the subcontracted companies, all the companies that provide their products and technological services: Telefónica, Huawei, LG, Philips, LaLiga, Cellnex... To all of them, THANK YOU.
I have no doubt that they will not only feel proud of the work done, but that the Wanda Metropolitano will be an example for them to continue facing new challenges in new stadiums.
The Wanda Metropolitano will be the best stadium for Atlético de Madrid
Our new home will be a flagship stadium in the world. It is not enough to have financial capacity and resources to commission a project like this; not even the talent of the architects who design a project. You need to adapt the project to the needs of the football sector in general and the fans who are going to use the stadium in particular.
That is why, having the experience of managing the Calderón for the last 25 years, and knowing our fans, I am sure that the Wanda Metropolitano will be the best stadium for Atlético de Madrid.
We cannot yet specify the day of the inauguration, because the UEFA Champions League group stage draw will be at the end of August and we do not know if we will begin the competition at home or away. In any case, the planned date is the 16th of September in LaLiga against Málaga or in that same week, on Tuesday or Wednesday, if the Champions draw were to make us play the first game at home.
Sea cual sea el día, los aficionados en general y los abonados en particular podrán comprobar la dimensión del proyecto desde entonces, pero será a lo largo de la temporada cuando podrán disfrutar del proyecto integral: estadio, parking, accesos, urbanización exterior, jardines, conexiones... completamente concluido.
Whatever the day, the fans in general and the members especially will be able to verify the dimension of the project then, but it will be throughout the season when they will be able to enjoy the whole project: stadium, car park, accesses, external urbanisation, gardens, connections... completely finished.
The change of stadium takes place with Atlético de Madrid being second in UEFA’s ranking and about to begin the eleventh consecutive season competing in Europe. How do you assess this moment?
It is true, we inaugurate our stadium being second in UEFA’s ranking. I think that very few value this fact accordingly. The ranking is not a product of what has been obtained in a season; it is the result of how you have competed in 5 seasons.
To be above clubs like Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, PSG, Arsenal, Chelsea, Bayern, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and many others in a 5-season cycle, you need to do really well.
We are the most efficient club in the world. It is not me who says it, the data indicates it. Right now, we are second at a sports level, but we are thirteenth regarding income. Efficiency measures exactly that: what you obtain and with what resources.
Will the new revenue from the Wanda Metropolitano serve to reinforce the squad?
The additional revenue that the new stadium will generate must be destined to repay the investments made in it. Our business plan, conservative, makes us foresee that the net investment in the Wanda Metropolitano would be completely repaid in 6 or 7 seasons. By net investment we understand the total cost of the investment in the new stadium minus the amount that we obtain for the sale of the building rights of the Vicente Calderón.
Es un jugador 'polivalente' que llega en un momento fantástico al Atlético de Madrid
It is really complicated to continue investing in the team, coinciding with the investment in the stadium and the Academy venues. But it is possible to invest in the stadium and the team at the same time, providing that we continue growing as we have been doing.
The increase in revenue derived from our participation in the Champions League and the broadcasting rights of LaLiga are destined, practically in their entirety, to the wage increases of the team; and the increase in income derived from the new stadium is destined to repay the investment in the stadium.
When we won the Europa League in Hamburg in the 2009-10 season, the club’s income budget was of 122 million Euros, and the income budget for the wages of technical personnel and players plus the amortizations to buy football players, of 80 million. In the current campaign, our budget will be of approximately 340 million, whereas that of wages of players and technical personnel, plus the amortization for the purchase of football players will be of approximately 260 million.
The management of the new stadium, the income coming from UEFA with the new format of the Champions League starting next season, the upward renewal of the broadcasting rights by LaLiga from 2019, the new sponsorship agreements, the permanent increase of our social mass and he possible new capital contributions necessary to strengthen the society, all of this as a whole, will be what allows and guarantees us to continue growing and to consolidate Atlético de Madrid as one of the strongest and most attractive clubs in the world of football.
Our club not only grows at the sports level. At the image and commercial level, Atlético de Madrid has increasingly more value. How do you see the evolution of the entity in these areas?
The club’s income grow sustained and systematically. Those coming from television and the ones generated by participating in the UEFA Champions League grow at a very good pace. And at a slower pace, those coming from exploitation and sponsorships.
In exploitation, the strategy is clear: adjust the price of the season passes to the fullest to allow any Atlético to come to the stadium and thus manage to move to the Wanda Metropolitano the atmosphere that has made the Calderón unique. Passion, fun, loyalty, commitment, empathy, and sometimes, almost madness.
This atmosphere differentiates us from others, and because of it, we have fixed a very aggressive price policy, which makes the growth in the exploitation income to grow at a slower speed from the rest of the revenues.
As for the income from advertising and sponsorships, we are happy, we still have a long way to go to consolidate a budget that will allow us to compete on equal terms with the 10 big clubs in Europe.
We grow in sponsorships, both in number and in amounts, in retail, both in the men’s and women’s line, this next season we will release a third kit for the Champions League, we will open new shops, increase the number of licensed product references... All of this makes us think that we are on the correct path: to consolidate Atlético de Madrid as a global club.
FIFA does not allow us to register players until January of next year. What do you think will be the effect of the sanction?
I think that keeping a group that has managed to have another fantastic season cannot be a problem. I see it as a success. We must be proud of being able to continue relying on a group of players that have given so much to us in the last years.
We must be proud of being able to continue relying on a group of players that have given so much to us in the last years
Being able to keep with us all those players coveted by the world powers of football at an economic level; it says a lot of the economic strength of Atleti, and also of how attractive it is for the players to want to continue enjoying their work for the sporting successes that they are obtaining.
The prohibition of registering this summer market affects us in that the two players that we wanted to hire, because there were only two, will have to join us with five months of delay.
Simeone faces now his sixth season as the manager of the first team. A stability on the bench that no club had had for a long time. How important is this fact in the sporting success of the last campaigns?
I always said that the decision of hiring Diego, and his of accepting, was a great success for both parts. It is a clear example of successful synergy, where both parts have grown equally. Diego contributes results and these, stability and growth.
I am convinced that we have several years of joint work with Simeone ahead of us, where we can all continue growing
Diego's work in bringing wills together, in transferring the values of sports to players and fans, in demanding commitment and behaviour from the players, in keeping the dream of all the Atléticos alive, has not finished. I am sure that we have ahead several more years of joint work, where we can all continue growing.
The work of Diego and his team, as well as that of the people of the club who assist, help and protect him, and of course, of the group of players who contribute work, talent and commitment, all together, are managing to fulfil the goals every year, these being increasingly higher. And they continue surpassing them constantly.
We are a strong, capable and hopeful workgroup, where we are all better thanks to the work of others. Atleti has a group of professionals of the highest level, both in sports and in other areas of the club, and the result is verifiable.
Which are the goals of the club in the season that begins?
The goal is to continue competing, continue growing, continue leading by example in the world of values and efficiency, to continue fulfilling each and every one of our obligations with third parties, to offer more and better services to our fans, to fulfil the comply with the approved business plan.
Ultimately, to continue making Atleti greater, and if possible, with a few titles in the short run. But the titles, although important, must not be our raison d'être. Our raison d'être are our identifying traits and our goal is that the Atléticos feel proud of their team.
This season the club changes stadium, launches a new graphic identity and the badge evolves. What led the club to decide on this strategy?
That the club, in a season in which the new stadium is inaugurated, has the courage to carry out other changes as important as those regarding its identifying traits, such as its badge, is exclusively due to the conviction of needing to evolve to continue growing.
New generations, new technologies, new digital supports in which our identifying traits appear, new licensed product references, all of these demand evolution from us.
We have dedicated many, many hours, filled with hope, care and respect for our history, with respect to our origins, to take this step.
Changes are always difficult to assimilate. I have to admit that, at the beginning, it also worried me and I knew that it would generate the same feeling in some people.
But to make decisions, often not simple, besides listening to many people related to an evolution process such as this one, you need to think, especially about the Atleti of the future, about our children and grandchildren, and doing so, you reach the conclusion that, respecting our history and identifying traits, it is both good and necessary to adapt to evolution.
I am totally convinced that the evolution of our badge respects our roots. Like everything that we are doing.
The evolution of our badge respects our roots, like everything that we are doing
The name of the stadium has a surname that will last for life: Metropolitano. The name of the Metro station located at the doors of our new house is already 'Metropolitano Stadium.' We have achieved the name of the avenue on which the club resides to be 'Luis Aragonés Avenue.' In the access to the East area, we will have a recognition to Atlético Aviación. The main sculpture in the Fan Plaza that gives access to the stadium is going to be a 4-metre bear and a strawberry tree with 5 roots that represent our origins, our roots, the names of the five stadiums in the history of our club. We are going to create the ‘Walk of Legends’, where all the players with more than 100 official games played will have a commemorative plate with their name and the number of matches. We will also have next to the stadium an enormous Atleti flag with which the club will honour our fans. And we are going to request to the City council that the main street to access the stadium be called the Avenue of the 26th of April.
In essence, winks, gestures, images, details and all kinds of memories that serve to show to our coming generations where we come from so that they enjoy the new facilities and technologies without forgetting our history.
The results have also made possible our social mass to grow without precedents. There are already more than 105.000 season pass members and more than 54.000 non-season pass members. How do you value these figures?
Good growth is the one that is sustained in time, that is the one you can trust. We have foreseen to finish the year with more than 110.000 members, of which more than half will be season pass members. They are figures that clearly reflect Atleti’s social dimension.
We have foreseen to finish the year with more than 110.000 members, of which more than half will be season pass members
The best example has been the move to the Wanda Metropolitano. It has been incredible to see thousands and thousands of Atléticos come to our offices to reserve their seats in the new stadium, to see their excitement while they were choosing their seats with the task force that we started to attend their questions and doubts as best as possible. That before inaugurating the Wanda Metropolitano we have more members than the capacity of the Vicente Calderón confirms the enormous social growth of Atlético de Madrid.
The digital growth of the club is also exponential. Every day we communicate with more than 23 million people in Spanish, English, Chinese and French, but I am sure that we can add many more fans. There are only 13 teams in the world with more online followers. Having more fans on Facebook than the NBA or Superbowl champion is a very trustworthy thermometer of how Atleti is growing in the entire world.
This year, with the inauguration of the Wanda Metropolitano, we have done a great bet to offer connectivity and an innovative mobile experience to all the fans who visit us. We want them to become our best ambassadors and that they share the experience with their friends from their phone.
It has been 25 years since the transformation of the club into a Public limited sports company, how do you value this fact?
This is an important point that has usually generated controversy in football clubs after 1992. The Sports Law of 1990, whether we like it or not, forces the clubs to coexist with limited companies. And that’s it really: coexisting. The club and the company go or should go hand in hand.
The club never has an owner, nobody can say that they are the owners of the club. Nobody owns history, the feelings, the players, the stadium, the fans.
It is in the company where there are shareholders, who buy and sell shares. The club is neither bought, nor sold.
Those who invest their money in buying club shares, inasmuch as they buy enough, will have the right to make decisions, to manage the club, and they will also have the right to win and lose money in the purchase and sale of shares.
The fan must understand this duality. A majority shareholder is only a tutor, a manager of the club during a period of time in the history of the club. Nothing more. It is important in the companies that manage clubs, the presence of shareholders that capitalize the company and set criteria that are kept in time, thus avoiding changes in direction that directly affect the performance of the team.
Atlético, since 2003, has capitalized in more than 115 million Euros and the door for new shareholders to capitalize the company is not closed.
The future of the club also involves the Academy mostly. Atlético de Madrid B has managed to promote its category and the Youths have had a great performance in the Copa. How do you see the project?
The Academy is one of the main pillars of our project. Sportingly, it is important that the second team has promoted to Second B, that ours Youths compete at the highest level, but for us the vital thing is to teach the values of the club to our Academy players, their training as players, but, especially, as people who respect our identity and defend it on the pitches.
The Academy is one of the main pillars of our project
We have the goal of having 5.000 boys and girls in our Academy thanks to the new venues that we will have, facilities with 35 football fields in which we will be able to develop this social and sports program that is the base of our Academy. The image of Atlético de Madrid is not only about the first team, our young football players are a very important part of it and that is why I want to emphasize its importance in the future of the entity.
I also want to highlight the important role of women’s football. We bet for its total integration in the club and they have demonstrated that we were not wrong. They have been doing a splendid work for years that has finalised with a historic season, in which we have won our first League title and have played the Copa’s final. We are proud of our women's team and we will work so that it continues growing.
The club has bet in the last years for its international expansion, how do you assess this project?
We are going to promote those franchises where Atlético has the majority of the capital that allows it to be able to develop the image of Atlético de Madrid through its Academy and the work in professional football.
This means putting an immediate stop to the franchise in India, since the majority holder of Atlético Kolkata does not allow the development of the image of Atlético de Madrid through our Academy in India.
India is an incredible country, with a great potential. Atlético has done a great job in Calcutta. We have managed to make Atlético de Madrid loved and recognised, but we need to develop it there, working, in addition to a professional team, with the children, through our Academy. And this is something that we cannot do with the majority shareholder of the franchise. But we want to continue being close to all the fans of Calcutta and of the whole of India.
We are working with hope on the project of San Luis de Potosí. Mexico is another great market, by volume and by culture. We have a majority shareholding, more than 60%, and it will allow us to develop the brand of the franchise and the image of Atlético de Madrid jointly, creating synergies between both. Having the majority of the capital allows us to have a long-term project; it allows us to implement our Academy there.
We are going to work very hard to take Atlético de San Luis to the elite of Mexican football. I am convinced that the fans, who already feel proud of their club, will enjoy their team in this new stage.
LaLiga is evolving a lot in the last seasons, at what moment in time do you think Spanish football is?
The management carried out by LaLiga in the last years has allowed the clubs depending on it to be more solvent and competitive; it has demanded from them, through permanent controls, to be more efficient, more rigorous in the processes.
The economic control established by LaLiga, the collective sale of broadcasting rights that make the competition be more attractive, the pursuit of the rigging, which kill football, the policies against violence in stadiums so that families and friends enjoy this show, the expansion of LaLiga’s brand all over the world... All this as a whole has made our League and our football to be able to compete with the Premier and to be increasingly more attractive in more countries.
Thanks to LaLiga's work, money from investors, sponsors and television operators comes to our country, representing today more than 2% of the GDP.
Regarding the situation of the Spanish Royal Federation of Football, I hope that it clears up as soon as possible because football needs a strong Federation, a Federation that coordinates the management of Spanish football with LaLiga and complements its work to be better and more competitive.
Finally, what message would you give to the fans before beginning such an important season in the history of the club?
We must be united, team, club and fans, to continue making Atlético de Madrid greater
I can only thank our fans one and a thousand times. They are our biggest heritage, always supporting the team in the good times and in the not so good ones. I would tell them that our beloved Atleti is living the best moment of its history and that they should enjoy it with the passion with which all of us Atléticos experience things. We must be united, team, club and fans, to continue making Atlético de Madrid greater.