Aitor Elizegi Emphasizes Finances, Lezama, And The Grada De Animación In First General Assembly As President
Aitor Elizegi oversaw his first General Assembly as President of Athletic Club on Sunday. The event, which took place at the Euskaduna Palace, was at maximum capacity as the current Board of Directors shared the current state of the club and plans for the future. Secretary Fernando San José opened the proceedings which was followed by an introductory speech from the President.
“We must recognize the efforts of the club’s professionals on a day-to-day basis and also appreciate the work of all the directives that have preceded us for maintaining the helm and identity even in bad times. We must not forget where we were on a sporting level in December of 2018 and out bet was to give the keys and confidence to Garitano. With his effort he deserved to continue with us to consolidate this project.”
From there, Elizegi put the focus on strengthening Lezama and continuing the process of building player residences on the grounds. “Our commitment will continue to be on Lezama so that the residence may one day have the space that we all want”, said the President. “The club has the will to reform the facilities and build residences for young players.”
Promoting the Grada de Animación has been one of the Board’s biggest goals since winning the election last year. Elizegi took a moment to explain that the fans must be united in the process, with the hope of eventually creating the same atmosphere that was so special at the old San Mamés.
“We are obsessed with remembering the old Cathedral. We want to renovate San Mamés as the old Cathedral. It’s one of the great fields but we must continue to strive because the challenges are great and you have to be united. We don’t want to give up a locality or an empty seat. We want the stadium to remain one of the great ones. We must continue to strive to create a San Mamés that we are all proud of and need to be united. Our obligation to promote, boost, and care for the Grada de Animación and we must praise the generosity of the involved stands.”
As expected, the President also praised the current financial situation of the club. Although the Board had to use €20 million of the Provisional Fund to balance the books, they have also placed €60 million of the transfer fee for Kepa Arrizabalaga back into the fund which has now reached €116 million in total. Last year’s final accounts showed €158 million in expenses, with a surplus of €24 million, while the proposed budget for 2019/2020 was set at €132 million.
“The economic health of the club is impeccable and we have reinforced the Provisional Fund to guarantee the future and for the club to continue to be updated. With the reservation we made from the first months of this directive we believe that we have reinforced the next five years, that there is nothing missing so that our professionals remain they best.”
Socios voted in favor of the 2018/2019 accounts with 53.5% in support and narrowly approved the proposed budget for 2019/2020. Only 47.3% voted in favor of the budget, 284 votes to 276, with 46% in opposition. Interestingly, Secretary Fernando San José initially stated that a majority of over 50% was required for approval but later corrected himself sighting a misinterpretation of the statutes. After approving the proposed budget, Socios also voted in favor to open a process for modifying the Bylaws of the club.
there must a majority of over 50% for approval. The club has already announced that there will be a special call in the coming days for an extraordinary assembly to address the proposed budget and vote once again. In comparison, previous President Josu Urrutia’s first budget proposal was approved by 65% of voters.
Urrutia was in attendance along with former executives Titxi Mendiguren and José Marí Amorrortu. Others such as Alberto Uribe-Echevarría – who lost December’s election to Elizegi – Jokin Garatea, Borja López, Javier Aldazabal, Laura Martínez, Yolanda Lázaro and Jon Muñoz were also present. The former executives attended the first call in a separate room while the regular assembly took place during the second call.
Current accountant Jon Ander de las Fuentes confirmed that the club will continue to freeze membership fees while Elizegi spoke in length of Athletic’s commitment to growing the women’s game in the region. The club also shared a special video remembering the past year of Athletic after which the President shared his desire for the club to be transparent and united.
“There is no one left out here. We have opted for a cheerful and wide-open Athletic because we are proud of the brand, admired worldwide, that we must continue to strengthen. Ibaigane is open every day and so it will continue. We will never get tired of listening to the Socios. We have tried to govern, not only for those who voted for us, but for everyone. ”
In closing, Aitor Elizegi addressed the crowd to call for unity. “Athletic belongs to everyone who has it in their hearts”, he said with his arms wide. “All those who carry this club in their hearts should be by our side. Everyone is invited to this project. We are all waiting for you.” The General Assembly ended with a round of applause.