La Liga Credits Aitor Elizegi’s Board With Half Of The Surplus From Selling Kepa Arrizabalaga
In a world where money rules football, Athletic stand proudly on their values and financial stability. The club is one of only a few in Europe with no debt and recently reported a surplus of €300 million before the Presidential election in December. Athletic are fiscally stronger than any other time in the club’s history, but new President Aitor Elizegi is limited in what he can do with it all.
Due to Spanish Law, Elizegi and his Board had to deposit guarantees at the La Liga offices after winning the election on 27 December. The amount submitted was €19.3 million, meeting the required 15% of the club’s current yearly budget. There are several reasons why this law exists, but simply put it is a means to protect clubs from financial hardships or collapse.
New Presidents must show that they can protect their club’s financial status and are also required to leave the club in an equal or better situation when their run eventually comes to an end. For example, when Elizegi leaves office Athletic must still report €300 million or more in surplus or he and his Board will be held personally responsible for the difference.
The only way to avoid this responsibility is to run as a Presidential candidate coming from the previous Board of Directors, which is what Alberto Uribe-Echevarría did in December when he challenged Elizegi. Had Uribe-Echevarría won he would have had the entire €300 million at his disposal. Elizegi isn’t as fortunate and it’s this exact issue that convinced José Antonio Jainaga not to run in the election after previously announcing that he would step forward.
Athletic’s failure to qualify for Europe for a second straight year has added to the difficulties. Elizegi recently admitted that the club will post a deficit due to a high wage bill that is only sustainable by regularly competing in Europe. With the club needing to improve the contracts of several players, as well as strengthen the squad, there has been growing concern over how the Board would navigate the limitations.
Finally, there has been a stroke of good news for Elizegi and company. After being told that they would be responsible for the finances beginning on the date of the election, La Liga has credited the new Board with half of the surplus from the club’s sale of Kepa Arrizabalaga last summer according to an exclusive report from Javier Ortiz de Lazcano of El Correo.
Before leaving office, former President Josu Urrutia reported a €60 million surplus from the previous season, which would have been a €20 million deficit had Arrizabalaga not paid his €80 million release clause to join Chelsea. Because Aitor Elizegi took over halfway through the season his Board has been credited with half of the surplus meaning they will have an additional €30 million with which to operate.
This summer will be one of the most important ones in recent memory. Athletic are hoping to improve the contracts of Yeray and Unai Nuñez, which would bring wage increases, as well as address the situations of several other players. Strengthening the squad will also be important. The current Board was already expected to have to dip into the club’s €76 million provisional fund this year to balance the books, but having the additional money available certainly helps the situation.
Being credited with half of the Arrizabalaga surplus definitely gives the Board room to breathe, but it doesn’t change the fact that the current financial model can’t continue without the Lions regularly competing in Europe. Aitor Elizegi has stated on many occasions that he aims to introduce several new streams of revenue to improve the club’s income level. Doing so would be a massive success for the new President, though it’s clear that qualifying for Europe next season is absolutely imperative for Athletic Club.