Football: Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim gets rousing welcome in Valencia

Valencia's new owner Peter Lim (right) and Valencia's President Amadeo Salvo pose during the Spanish league football match Valencia FC vs Elche CF at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on Oct 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Valencia's new owner Peter Lim (right) and Valencia's President Amadeo Salvo pose during the Spanish league football match Valencia FC vs Elche CF at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia on Oct 25, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

Last Saturday, billionaire investor Peter Lim received an extraordinary welcome from the fans of Spanish football club Valencia.

A YouTube video uploaded by the club shows the billionaire arriving at the Mestalla Stadium last Saturday night for the home game against Elche, which Valencia won 3-1. It has since garnered more than 17,000 views.

Lim was in the Spanish port city to finalise his ownership of the club.

Earlier that day, it was confirmed that he had reached an agreement with Bankia - the Spanish bank that held most of the club's €200 million (S$323 million) debt - on the restructuring of the club's finances. That has paved the way for him to buy a 70 per cent stake in Valencia.

Stepping out of a luxury sedan, Lim was giving a warm handshake and hug by Valencia president Amadeo Salvo. Cameras zoomed in on the masses of fans, who chanted the Singaporean's name feverishly, as if they were welcoming a new star striker.

Accompanied by his wife, former actress Cherie, Lim posed for photographs and was later escorted to a balcony in the stadium, where he and Salvo waved at the delighted fans below.

The 61-year-old, estimated to be worth US$2.05 billion (S$2.6 billion) by Forbes Singapore, has bought Valencia for €420 million in total, with €200 million to clear the club's debts and £170 million to complete construction of a new stadium.

He has also splashed €45 million on two Benfica players - striker Rodrigo Moreno, 22, and midfielder Andre Gomes, 20.

Without a league title in 10 years and a trophy since the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup in 2008, Valencia were crippled by debt until Lim started buyout talks a year ago.

Rejuvenated by the hope offered by the Singaporean, Valenncia have surged up to fourth in the 20-team La Liga on 20 points, two points behind leaders Barcelona.