Alberto Uribe-Echevarría Answers Questions About His Candidacy For Athletic Club President
Alberto Uribe-Echevarría is the continuist candidate from Athletic’s former Board of Directors, but he doesn’t want to be considered as another Josu Urrutia. The former Accountant played a massive role in helping the club secure financial strength and has already received the backing of some former Presidents and politicians in Bizkaia. On Wednesday he sat down for an interview with Javier Beltrán of AS to answer questions about his project and had the following things to say:
Let’s start with the most recent. The dismissal of Berizzo, the team in the relegation zone…Your thoughts?
“I am an optimist by nature and I like to radiate optimism. The people who know me know that. In this case I think we have a squad of great quality and the potential to be much higher. There is no doubt that we are going to get out of this complication situation. I haven’t presented myself because of the situation. If things are good I will be there and if not I’ll still be there. I believe in Athletic, we have faced this before in our 120 year history. I am willing to step forward in the hard times.”
Is Gaizka Garitano the solution to the problem?
“In Lezama there is a group of coaches that have all the knowledge in the world. Surely the decision is correct because they are very prepared. Will Garitano stay long-term? I can’t split this issue between being a Socio and a candidate. Garitano has a lot of quality and you never know what will happen.”
Urrutia didn’t consult you on the decision? Were you really the third choice behind Aldazabal and Corres?
“Neither he nor anyone else did because I’m not part of their group. I have not spoken to him since the day we resigned. Not everything that has been said is true, it’s the opposite. With an objective advantage from the legal point of view we were clear that we were not going to leave Athletic without a candidate from the Board of Directors. We knew that one of the previous Board members was going to step forward. There are people with enough preparation to be President and in the moment the spotlight was on me because I have the knowledge; I am retired and have more free time to devote myself, body and soul, to Athletic.”
Are you free from the label of “Urrutista?
“What I wanted was to reclaim my own space. It is a true statement to say that I am not Urrutia, but I do not deny or abhor the many good things that have been done during his Presidency. Values such as seriousness, responsibility, and putting Athletic over your personal interests, defending the interests of the Socios at all costs against others who are not Athletic, is part of his beliefs that I carry with me. I feel very proud to have been part of those values and, of course, they will be with me if I am President.”
Is you project a repetition of the previous one?
“My project is different, neither better nor worse, but I have my own style. If Josu continued as President he would have continued making improvements. We have the experience of knowing where to turn the keys and where to make changes. New people come with other ideas and a critical spirit. It gives us freshness and will help us to make Athletic even more cohesive.”
Mario Fernández, who was promoting another team, has joined you. Is it the coup d’etat?
“If you say so. I’m not doing anything for electoral success. When I formed my group there were no other candidates. I brought Mario into my company. We know each other well and he has Athletic in his veins. He has a lot of ideas and it is not a coup d’etat but a sum of them.”
The policy of incommunicado has rarefied the relationship with the press…
“Incommunicado policy? I don’t believe much in politics. Athletic has to communicate well. I am a normal guy. I am conciliatory and like to be coherent, I’ve been like that for 59 years. If the Socios communicate that they don’t want something, or that it doesn’t suit Athletic, we will not do it. The Socios are part of the Athletic ecosystem. They are not the enemy, but when there are conflicting interests I will put the interests of the club first. If all the interests can be reconciled we will do it.”
Elizegi praises you and you respect him. Can this end in a merger?
“I have not thought about it or considered it. I do not like to close myself off to an y possibility or to have red lines. If that possibility exists, and it would be good for Athletic and reconcilable with the people around me, then you never know.”
How many signatures have you collected? Are you the PNV candidate?
“I don’t know, there are a lot of people involved. I have the feeling that things are going well. I am not affiliated with any party of consider myself a candidate of anyone. If a person of any political leaning wants to support me I will be delighted.”
Talk to me about the famous piggy bank that you created…
“I have been responsible for the finances of Athletic. If there wasn’t an adequate situation I wouldn’t have run for President, I would be more crazy than I already am. The Sporting Law of 1990 establishes that the Board of Directors respond with their own assets for the losses that occur during their administration. If you look at the club’s situation on the day you enter and the day you leave, things should be better. If there is less money than when you took over, your money has to make the difference. The situation when we took over in 2011 is completely different from the one in 2018. We have generated €300 million in surplus after taking over with negative €4 million.”
Will it help you amortize signings?
“That’s why, among other things, we made the provisional fund. We did it for the club, for everyone.
The squad is oversized in terms of the wage bill. Yuri, Muniain, Williams…Will that create problems?
“Which would you prefer…having Yuri or not? Having Iñigo Martinez or not? Well if they are here, the wage bill increases. We can discuss if renovations or signing have been made that weren’t necessary. But you can’t blame me saying that you like signings and then complain about the economic cost. Some say the philosophy has raised the wage bill. If we are so proud of the philosophy we have to embrace it with the good and, if something bad happens, with the bad. It gives us strength. The economy is not the problem of Athletic. This is the best economic moment in the club’s 120 year history.”
Will you sign Ibai Gómez, Herrera, Llorente…?
“We will have to see what options there are and what the coach wants and needs.”
Who will replace Amorrortu?
“There is time to look at that.”
Players have left, is something going wrong?
“You can’t hold the club responsible for that, but Athletic has to do something. If we want Athletic to be the representation of our people, of the tribe as Josu Urrutia as said, we have to make the player want to stay even if he wants to hear the anthem of the Champions League.”
Is not having release clauses a good thing for Athletic?
“It’s a good thing. Why put a price on life or death. In England, for example, nobody leaves without negotiating.”
Your opinion on signing foreigners?
“I am in love with the philosophy of Athletic and I have no intention of changing it. Any alterations must arise from the social masses. If there is an initiative on the part of the Socios, we will discuss it.”
Relations with neighboring clubs are not the best right now?
“That’s what you say. I like to get along with people. The first priority is Athletic and the second is getting along with everyone.”