Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From Granada to Udine: How to make money in football

Granada CF has always been a humble club. The club of Andalusia has always been a humble club which, even though it enjoyed some more or less successful periods in Primera División during the 40s, 50s and 70s, has always been a so called equipo ascensor, that is "elevator team". One of these clubs that jump from one division to another. Something changed in 2009, when Quique Pina convinced Giampaolo Pozzo, Udinese's owner, to buy shares of the club.

Who is Quique Pina? Quique Pina is a former player of Tercera División teams that had a dream: to have his own football club. In the year 1999, Quique Pina starts from scratch, founding Ciudad de Murcia, a club located in the city of Murcia. The club starts in the lowest division, the Group B of the Territorial Preferente, with four divisions over them. Quique Pina started to show his talent to find interesting players that help the team to get promotions. In only one year, Ciudad de Murcia reached the Tercera División. Quique Pina is able to convince a former Primera División player like Idiakez and other clubs of the province to help to build a squad via loan agreements. The results can not be better and the team promotes to Segunda División B, the Spanish third division. Pina kept reaching similar agreements and in a matter of two years, the club reached the Segunda División. This promotion was significant, since the Segunda División B is not a joke anymore. B teams of the Primera División clubs and historical teams of the Spanish football play in this national division.

Enrique Pina

Ciudad de Murcia only needed two years to promote to Segunda División, leaving in their way historic clubs of the region, like Cartagena FC, and meeting the traditional club of the city, Real Murcia. In this 2004, the situation was weird, Real Murcia holds the love of the local fans, it has been representing the city since 1919 and, suddenly, a new club without fan base and tradition was sharing stadium and division with them. With Real Murcia in serious financial and economic trouble, Ciudad de Murcia becomes a real threat for the traditional club of the region. In these years, the goal is to stay in this division, but they do it wisely. Players like Dani Güiza are signed from important clubs like FC Barcelona to get a name and be sold for important figures in just two years. After two years in Segunda, Quique Pina built a team to promote to Primera División and, in the following two seasons, the team ended up in fourth position, very near the promotion.

In the year 2007, a change in the rules of football allows to sell the position of a club in a certain division. This is the beginning of the contacts of Quique Pina with the city of Granada. Pina sold the club to a Granada businessmen and the club, without fan base (the usual image of the Nueva Condomina was a stadium full of empty seats), changes its name to Granada 74. Without Quique Pina and without the support of the city (in a similar case, this Granada 74 was an experiment, while the love of the city was for Granada CF), the team does not have a future and gets relegated.

Gino Pozzo

The relationship between Quique Pina and the Pozzo family comes from long ago. Gino Pozzo, Giampaolo's son, is a football agent and met Quique Pina in an operation. As a consequence of it, their relationship started and, in these years, Ciudad de Murcia and the Pozzo family reached eventual agreements. Once Pina had left Ciudad de Murcia, he also joined the game of the football market. In the summer of 2007, as an example of it, Pina gives the Pozzo family the chance to sign a couple of Chile players, Alexis Sanchez and Mauricio Isla, at a very good price. The results are so good for both sides, that the contacts grow.

In 2009, Gino Pozzo, who lives in Barcelona, and Quique Pina started to work together in the ownership of a Spanish club. The Pozzo family offered 4M euros to buy RCD Espanyol, although the operation does not work. In the same summer, Lorenzo Sanz, former Real Madrid president, sells his ownership in the historical Granada CF and the Pozzo family sees their chance to put a feet in the Spanish land. The Pozzo's buy Granada CF, placed in Segunda B, to clear their debt. As a result of this operation, Quique Pina gets named administrator of the club.

Udinese & Granada

With the financial help of the Pozzo family and the good eye of Enrique Pina in the lowest divisions, Granada only takes one year to return to Segunda División. It was last summer when the links of Granada and Udinese get more obvious. With the club in Segunda División, Gino and Giampaolo Pozzo consider that Granada would be the perfect test ground of young players with potential to grow in competitive football. Udinese, who are fighting for big goals in the Serie A, have a very competitive squad and the young talented players who are not ready to play with the first team need minutes to grow. Granada is their destination. Players like Alex Geijo, Nyom, Dani Benitez, Jaime Romero and others join the club as platform to grow and as test for them in competitive football. The deal can not be better. As the players gain value with their fantastic performances, the club takes advantage of the support of a top European club to be a power in Segunda División. Only one year again. One year is what Granada needed to return to Primera División for the first time since 1976, 25 years later.

The formula of Quique Pina and the Pozzo family work. Their good eye in football allowed them to but cheap and sell with big revenues, while their clubs remain healthy and successful. While football is a ruin business in all the World, Pina and Pozzo show how things are done in the financial and sport aspects, proving that it is possible to mix success and business.

Tonight, Granada CF receive the visit of FC Barcelona in their home, Los Cármenes, and Udinese Calcio is the leader of Serie A.

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