Football: Valencia looking for 'right players'

Valencia players signing autographs at UN Women's campaign for foreign domestic workers at Chijmes. This was the Spanish club's final stop during their five-day visit to Singapore.
Valencia players signing autographs at UN Women's campaign for foreign domestic workers at Chijmes. This was the Spanish club's final stop during their five-day visit to Singapore.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Valencia players signing autographs at UN Women's campaign for foreign domestic workers at Chijmes. This was the Spanish club's final stop during their five-day visit to Singapore.
Chan Lay Hoon, Valencia president.

Club president Chan promises to invest in playing squad, improve on league showing

Despite a season that saw the team struggle in La Liga, Valencia president Chan Lay Hoon said the club will not embark on a spending spree in the transfer market to finish among Spanish football's elite again.

Valencia finished 12th in Spain's top tier, a far cry from their fourth-placed finish a year earlier that earned them a Champions League place. They also scored 24 fewer goals and shipped 16 more.

But Chan, a trusted associate of club owner Peter Lim, said the club will make signings only if the right player is available.

"We will continue to invest in the club of course but everything is limited by financial fair play. We're always limited and restricted by that. To achieve financial stability, we're always mindful," she told The Straits Times, explaining that Uefa's financial fair play rules limit a club's spending based on its earnings. Teams are hit with sanctions if they fail to comply.

"You cannot overspend, that's the situation. It's about choosing the right players for the squad."

Chan was speaking on the sidelines of a United Nations (UN) event yesterday morning. Valencia's players were at Chijmes to support UN Women's campaign to get a day off for foreign domestic workers.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

The biggest lesson for me is communication. For this football project, communication is very important. Fans demand my appearance, they want to see me, hear from me. There was a lot of adjustment for me.

CHAN LAY HOON, Valencia president, on what she learnt in her first season in charge of the Spanish football club.

Both parties inked a partnership last year to support gender equality worldwide.

Chan's prudence is not unfounded. Valencia, six-time La Liga champions, spent more than £100 million (S$200 million) last summer, but struggled on the pitch.

Apart from Alvaro Negredo, signed for a reported £24 million from Manchester City, the club preferred to give promising youngsters a chance to establish themselves.

There was also turbulence in the dugout as Portuguese coach Nuno Espirito Santo resigned after 13 league games.

His replacement, Gary Neville, departed after four months in charge with little improvement in results.

Neville's former assistant Pako Ayestaran was promoted to the hot seat with eight games remaining.

The Spaniard finished with a record of three wins, one draw and four defeats. He also oversaw a rare high for the club as they beat eventual league champions Barcelona 2-1.

Chan preferred not to comment when asked about Ayestaran's future, amid speculation linking former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini with the job.

But she assured fans that they can be optimistic about the new campaign as the club learns from the mistakes of the previous campaign.

Chan, who manages Lim's business portfolio and philanthropic work, added that she would also work on improving her communication with the club's fan base.

"We're playing only one competition (La Liga), so we'll be able to start to focus again and... we will be able to build a more balanced squad for next season," she said.

"The biggest lesson for me is communication. For this football project, communication is very important.

"Fans demand my appearance, they want to see me, hear from me. There was a lot of adjustment for me.

"But end of the day, (by) being transparent and honest with what we're trying to do, I believe fans will know that we are doing everything for the club's interest."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2016, with the headline 'Valencia looking for 'right players''. Print Edition | Subscribe