Nou Mestalla: A monument to Valencia’s financial woes

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
nou mestalla
The Nou Mestalla was due to be completed in time for the 2009-10 season

nou mestalla

The glamour of a Champions League tie with Manchester United may have helped conceal it, but in the northern suburbs of Valencia lies a stark reminder of this La Liga club’s dire financial situation.

Construction of the Nou Mestalla stadium was brought to a stuttering halt in February 2009 as the cash for the €270million project dried up, leaving a derelict skeletal structure where a new 75,000 capacity ground should now be hosting its second season of football as Valencia’s new home.

The state-of-the-art three-tier ground was designed to replace the 55,000-seater Estadio Mestalla, which has been Valencia’s home since 1923. Featuring five-star FIFA and UEFA facilities, it would represent Valencia’s status as one of Spain’s top clubs. “It’s much more curvaceous than most stadiums,” said architect J Parrish as he described the arena’s unique design, which features an aluminium exterior.

nou mestalla stadiumThe club had planned to move to the new stadium (artist’s impression pictured left) and sell the land upon which the original Mestalla stands.

But the global financial crisis hit Valencia hard. In 2009 it emerged that the Primera División club had racked up debts in excess of €400million—including at least €18m owed to the companies building the stadium. It prompted experts to question the club’s business model as Spain slipped into its worst recession for half a century. The club was so cash-strapped that it was unable to pay its players until securing a loan. Inevitably, work on the new stadium ceased.

This summer saw Valencia sell its prized assets in an attempt to balance the books—Spain stars David Villa and David Silva departed for a combined total of €69million. But still requiring at least 14 months of construction work, the future of the club’s new arena remains unclear.

Marca, the Spanish sports daily newspaper, reported that parts of the structure have been damaged beyond repair since work was stopped last year. And there is no sign of the recommencement of construction as the 2010-11 season gets into full swing.

In an age where reckless over-spending and megalomania have dominated the highest level of the sport, this eerily quiet abandoned building site should at least provide a blunt warning to clubs who continue to punch above their weight.

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