Just a couple of days after the 2018 summer transfer market had closed in Spain, Real Valladolid announced an extra signing that took many by surprise. It was September 3rd and the LaLiga club revealed that Ronaldo Nazario had become their new majority shareholder. As a LaLiga legend, the news was warmly welcomed in Spain and there was a buzz of excitement. But why? Why did Ronaldo buy Real Valladolid?
First, the details. The Brazilian, who is reportedly worth around €350m, purchased a 51% stake in the club from then-president Carlos Suárez. It was reported that the deal cost him €30m. At first, Suárez looked set to continue his 17-year reign as president of the club, before a restructure was announced on September 28th. This saw Ronaldo become president and Suárez take on a less prominent directorial role.
At this moment, a long-held ambition of Ronaldo’s had been completed. He had become a president of a professional Spanish football club. But why this one? Well, there are lots of pros for Real Valladolid.
Firstly, they are in the top flight after securing promotion through the second division’s play-offs in the 2017/18 season, beating Sporting Gijón and Numancia along the way. Secondly, they are a historic Spanish club with a rich history and have collected the 13th most points in the all-time LaLiga table. That puts them ahead of other clubs like Sporting Gijón, Osasuna, Villarreal, Las Palmas, Getafe and Alavés.
Thirdly, their Estadio José Zorrilla is large and fairly new, having been built for the 1982 World Cup. It holds 26,500 and is the 11th largest stadium in LaLiga in terms of capacity. Furthermore, there are already plans to redevelop the stadium and to make it even more modern with the addition of large electronic screens and wifi. That project has already been given a budget of €20m, five million of which the City Council is prepared to pay for.
Then there’s a fourth reason why Real Valladolid makes sense for Ronaldo. Location, location, location. At just 150 kilometres from Madrid, or a two-hour drive, the club is close to the epicentre of Spanish football and to a city where Ronaldo has spent many years of his life. He clearly values the proximity to the Spanish capital, with Real Valladolid having already opened an office in Madrid city centre. Sporting wise, this closeness could help the club secure loan deals with the giants of Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, two clubs who have traditionally liked to send their promising youngsters to nearby clubs like Getafe, Leganés or Rayo Vallecano. Real Valladolid can be an option too.
There are personal reasons too. Ronaldo has spent a lot of time in the region over the years and had already purchased shares in one of the local vineyards. “This is a club with a lot of tradition and one that is based in an incredible city,” he told reporters in September.
As well as Ronaldo wanting to purchase the club, there was also a need for Carlos Suárez to want to sell to the 2002 World Cup winner. “I was sure that he was the right person to manage this unique club,” Suárez stated at the time of the announcement. The fact that Ronaldo promised to be a serious conservative owner and a hands-on one helped to convince the former president. Asked in a press conference about how much he’d be involved, Ronaldo replied: “Do you think I’m going to buy a club and then go on holiday the next day?”
Ronaldo has stayed true to his word and has been very active. He was even lending a helping hand during the summer transfer market, even before the change of ownership was announced.
“The month of August was crazy,” he said in late September at the World Football Summit. “We worked a lot to sign the best players for the club and to bring in what the coach and sporting director needed. It was very tough because of finances. I had to use my charisma and charm to try to convince players to join, although I’m not sure that it worked too well!”
The club spent just €3m in total in the summer transfer market, the second lowest expenditure of all LaLiga clubs, but Ronaldo has stated he is in it for the long haul, even if relegation is suffered, although the goal of course is to stay up and to grow from there. It’s an exciting time for the city and the club. The Ronaldo era is only just beginning.