BUENOS AIRES - Relegation will bring huge
financial hardship for "The Millionaires" as heavily indebted
giants River Plate have been known since the early years of
professional football in Argentina.
River, the record 33-time champions who were relegated on
Sunday, are grappling with a debt of 280 million Argentine pesos
($68.33 million) according to the website www.muyriver.com.ar
and stand to lose 26.5 million pesos in television revenue when
they play in the Nacional B division next season.
Arch-rivals River and Boca Juniors, Argentina's most popular
and successful clubs, take 26.5 million pesos a year in match
broadcasting revenue in the top flight, but in the second tier
teams earn 3.5 million pesos.
Other belt tightening losses are expected to include lower
gate receipts at home and none on the road given the ban on away
fans at Nacional B matches due to "Barra brava" violence set
against the high costs of opening the Monumental.
River's main sponsor is the Brazilian petroleum company
Petronras whose contract of $2.5 million per season is up for
renewal in June 2012. They are also being paid $600,000 by
Brazil's kitchenware manufacturers Tramontina in a deal until
the end of this year.
Sports goods makers Adidas have a contract until 2014 for $3
million per season but much of that money, paid in advance, has
already gone to settle debts inherited by club president Daniel
Passarella from the previous administration 18 months ago.
There is a question mark over what new deals, if any, the
sponsors, unwilling to discuss the future, will agree with River
outside the first division.
River, who earned their nickname in the 1930s when they paid
a then world record transfer fee for striker Bernabe Ferreyra
from rivals Tigre, will have to sell players for revenue and to
offload their highest salaries.
They had a golden era in production of world class players
in the 1990s and early 2000s fetching big fees for the likes of
Pablo Aimar, Javier Saviola and Andres D'Alessandro to name only
Now, their main assets are teenage playmaker Erik Lamela and
20-year-old striker Rodrigo Funes Mori, whose promising form has
dipped badly with River's recent poor run and the confused first
team selections of out-of-depth coach JJ Lopez.
Passarella, former captain and coach of River and Argentina,
has been waiting on improved offers for the pair after reported
interest from European clubs willing to pay between $10 and $12
million but now risks having to settle for less.
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