Juventus are in the market for a particular bankrupt Portuguese club, Conor Heffernan explains why.
Things are looking up for the Old Lady.
Serie A winners last season and currently top of the League having gone six games unbeaten. It’s a good time to support the Black and White. Recent rumours of match fixing have been the only sour note of late for the Bianconeri. Efforts are now being made to ensure Juventus’s success into the future and in doing so, Juve have set their sights on a unique business opportunity. They want to buy another football club, namely Portuguese football club, C.F. Os Belenenses.
What is so incredible about this proposal is the magnitude of the club Juve are interested in. Belenenses are one of Portugal’s oldest and most prestigious football clubs. Founded in 1919, the team was a force to be reckoned with in Portuguese football prior to the Second World War. By 1926 she had won her first trophy and this kickstarted a reign of two decades dominating Portugese football. In 1946 she won her only Primeira Liga and had by then well and truly solidified her position as one of Portugal’s top teams.
Granted times have changed for the Lisbon club.
In fact matters have gotten significantly worse as time goes on. In 1982 Belenenses were relegated from the Primeira Liga for the first time in the club’s history. Since then, they have been relegated on three further occasions with the most recent coming in 2010. Belenenses languished in the Segunda Liga for three long years before finally securing promotion back to where they belong, the Primeira Liga in 2013. Nowadays the team are a comfortable mid-table team in Portugal’s top flight. It’s nothing compared to her glorious past, but’s it’s a start.
Unfortunately all is not well with O Belém off the field.
Straddled with €10 million debts and little chance of honouring them, the club is now on the lookout for new investors. Enter Juventus.
Reports have emerged this week in the Italian media that Juve could purchase 51% of Belenenses for as little as €500. It could even be less, with the Portuguese stock exchange recently valuing the Club at €0. Yes €0. Anyone taking on Belenenses will be expected to honour her debts.
So what’s in this for the Old Lady?
Juventus are desperately searching for a feeder club. Currently the majority of Juve players are loaned to fellow Serie A teams, much to the disapproval of the Agnelli family, the majority holders at Juve. Every season Juventus is left to strike deals with Italian clubs to get playing time for her players. Many of her players end up on the bench, gaining little experience. A feeder club, in a top European league would be the ideal solution. Belenenses represents a cheap way of ensuring Juventus players get game time in a tough league. For Belenenses the benefit is financial stability. Both teams appear to be gaining something from the deal.
The proposed acquisition of Belenenses raises larger questions about the nature of European football. How inequitable has football become that an Italian team could consider purchasing out a top-flight club in Portugal?
Portuguese football is in dire straits, there’s no denying that, but to see larger teams circling around her clubs like vultures is just distressing. For all the talk of Financial Fair Play and tightening the gap between the bigger and smaller leagues in Europe, nothing substantial has been done.
Belenenses’s auditors have denied any possibility of Juventus signing the club but with no chance of repaying her debts, how can the Lisbon club deny fresh investment? Juventus could soon own another football club.
Conor Heffernan, Pundit Arena.