Even before you could complete the sentence, Miguel Angel Marin, owner Atletico Madrid, said “60 million”, rounding off the o’s as a Spaniard speaking English is wont to. “Financial Fair Play (FFP) is very important for the competition because you need to have all clubs playing by the same rule,” he told HT on Wednesday.
“We have worked with more or less the same budget over the past two seasons. We are trying to show that it is possible to compete within the rules of our club --- foster hunger and nurture talent,” said Marin whose team can now smell the silverware of the Spanish League and the Champions League. “We are the impossible come true,” Javier Martinez, the club’s director of business development, had said.
Marin may have been on a whistle-stop tour of the city forging Atletico’s partnership with Kolkata’s Indian Super League (ISL) franchise but was willing to engage about UEFA’s contentious plan, aired on Tuesday, to fine Paris St Germain and Manchester City 60 million euros and prune their Champions League squad by four to 21 for breaching FFP rules.
Uneven playing field
Marin sounded just as helpless when conversation veered to Spanish clubs individually negotiating television rights. He smiled the wan smile of someone who knows how uneven the playing field is. “We are trying to change the current model. Barcelona and Real Model’s television deals are worth 140m euros while ours is 40m euros. And every extra euro they get translates into greater commercial value for every other deal they make. So, the 140m euro is actually worth 200m euros,” said Marin.
Marin began the interview apologising for his English and spoke softly. But he sounded firm on whether Diego Costa, their go-to man for goals this season, will stay. “There is no easy way out for a clubs like ours. You need to keep the income going. If Costa wants to go, we would be happy for him but I think he wants to stay,” he said.
And will Fernando Torres end his career at the club where he first got noticed? “Torres is still at Chelsea.” Exactly the kind of comment that can create ripples in the transfer season.
Earlier, Marin struck the right chords while explaining why the 111-year-old club is in this. “We love, breathe and live around football. Why not explore the possibility of looking at new frontier…expand our family to include the Asian market. There is a huge market in India and China. We help and support many teams in South America…In a few weeks and months, we can hope to create a good team. Today, there are Chinese kids in our academy. Why not Indian professional footballers,” he said.