Football: Valencia opt out of July Sports Hub game, some players to visit in May

Valencia's commercial and marketing director Peter Draper says it would be unfair to fans to go on tour without a full team.
Valencia's commercial and marketing director Peter Draper says it would be unfair to fans to go on tour without a full team. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Spanish La Liga club Valencia will not play at the National Stadium in July, but will instead bring a handful of players to Singapore at the end of May for a promotional visit.

The change in plans was confirmed by the club's commercial and marketing director Peter Draper yesterday.

Originally, the club, owned by Singaporean businessman Peter Lim, had planned to bring the likes of Alvaro Negredo and Paco Alcacer to play in the Republic as part of their pre-season preparations.

But Valencia have reversed their decision owing to uncertainty over the availability of players, many of whom are expected to be called up for national duties for the June 10-July 10 European Championship, June 3-26 centennial Copa America and August's Olympics.

Of their starting XI in their previous game, there were six Europeans and three South Americans.

"We won't be here this summer," Draper said. "It's an unusual year and difficult for us, given the number of competitions."

"Our team will come back in bits and pieces from the European Championship, they will report for training on July 1, but we'll have nothing like a full team.

"So we've got no idea of what the team will look like on July 2. And if you ask me whether we will go somewhere and with who, I don't know.

"We think it'll be unfair to our fans to go somewhere with anything less than a full team. We're trying to build our reputation and not destroy it by disappointing."

Another issue cited was the Sports Hub's unavailability for their preferred dates in July.

While the full team will not be coming, a clutch of players will make the trip in May, including Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and Spanish midfielder Daniel Parejo, the second-highest scorer this season, with six goals in 25 games.

There are plans for the players to take part in football clinics, five-a- side matches and training camps.

And the club remains committed to growing their presence in Singapore. For starters, they will set up a football academy in May, while a coaching exchange programme has also been planned.

But Draper said the club will not open a merchandise store. "It's difficult to sustain the level of sales to offset direct costs of running the premises.

"We want to be here on a consistent basis... to support the sport on a variety of levels, from grassroots through to excellence."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Valencia opt out of July Sports Hub game, some players to visit in May'. Print Edition | Subscribe