Blanquiceleste out

Hold the front page. Minutes before I was going to bed tonight (which I will be doing in, erm, a few minutes) Olé‘s website popped up a new front page with the headline ‘Chau, Blanquiceleste’. It was reported here last week that the Governor of Buenos Aires Province had appointed Héctor García Cuerva as the new auditor for Racing, and García Cuerva said he’d immediately petition for the removal of Blanquiceleste from the club’s governing board. On Tuesday night, the judge in charge of the petition agreed to the proposal. As of Wednesday, 4th June 2008, Racing Club will no longer be run by Blanquiceleste. BC CEO Fernando De Tomaso and the AFA have yet to say anything official on the matter, but rest assured we’ll be looking at it in more detail on Wednesday (or possibly, given Boca’s and Argentina’s matches on the same day, and the fact that I need to sleep sometimes, Thursday).

13 thoughts on “Blanquiceleste out

  1. I would love to be very positive about this. I think, in fact, this is something that was needed, but knowing Racing and its officials for more than 3 decades now, I fear for whom could be the people in charge of the club in the near future.

    I think AFA had a lot of interests in seeing BC out because the company didn’t do the job they were supposed to do. AFA wanted and was in favour of implementing the private ownership of clubs in Argentina, but not the way BC has done it, so now they are sending a message to the football society by paving the way to see BC out.

    Again…I fear the people that brought Racing to the diabolical situation in which we had to be taken by a private company will comeback in disguise (sending their own people) and the vicious cicle will never end.

    I hope some new blood takes control of Racing and rule with love for the club and respect for their fans. But knowing the biggest thief in history, Juan Destéfano, is already announcing he’ll run for president and so does Daniel “Mr. Tambourine in the head” Lalín so I just hope my fellow Racing supporters bring their brains to election day and deny those shameless individuals.

    I guess we can’t celebrate anything. I shoud be happy to read this news, but I just can’t. Fear is the predominant feeling right now.

  2. Can someone give me a little background on the whole Racing/Blanquiceleste saga? Sorry to come in a little late to the story but a refresher would be wonderful.

  3. Here’s my effort, Jeremy (because I don’t think even I understand the whole saga perfectly!).

    Ever since the late 70s, Racing became “notorious” for their terrible management and a series of officials that had no regard for the club whatsoever and were only there to take their cut and fill their pockets with the club’s money.

    When I started going to watch Racing (1984 -when we were in the second division after being relegated the season before that-) we were getting close to an unprecedent 2 decades without a league title (the last one being in 1966). So a lot of stupid signings on silly money were made just for the sake of the whole “we’ve got to win the league” argument.

    Racing Club’s president back then was Juan Destéfano. He left the club under a lot of pressure from every corner with a debt that was of around 70 million dollars. Granted that sometimes he did form a competitive squad and a team that really pushed for the title in a few ocassion but was incredibly unlucky. The 1988 was (and still is) the best Racing side I’ve ever seen and it was denied for an incident involving the crowd in a match against Boca that eventually got Racing a point-deduction and ultimately we missed out on the league. That team won the first ever Supercopa Sudamericana (a tournament played by all the clubs that had won the Copa Libertadores in their history).

    The problem was that Destefano had a long time to do everything he wanted because we couldn’t noticed. You see a team doing well season after season, selling out every stadium and you think things are OK.

    When it was impossible to continue running with a debt like that, a succession of presidents followed suit. Osvaldo Otero and Daniel Lalín did more damage to the club and increased the debt and finally, in 1999 Lalín filed for bankrupcy and one day, there was a lady on the TV (she worked with the government and was a Racing auditor back then) and said: “Señoras y Señores, el Racing Club ha dejado de existir” (“Ladies and Gentlemen, Racing Club doesn’t exist anymore”).

    Imagine the reactions!

    Anyway…the government got involved, the AFA got involved and between them and the remainings of Racing Club, they came out with a plan to let a private company run Racing’s footballing affairs and in came Blanquiceleste S.A.

    They signed a 10-year contract in which they promised they would pay the entire debt before the end of the terms and they said they were to invest heavily on players to keep Racing competitive and to take it to the top.

    Blanquiceleste’s president back then was Fernando Marín. The first few years, things were done in a good way. The league title in 2001 made us think we were up for the good times.

    But then, a number of bad decision, managerial changes (a famous break-up between Marín and Merlo (the manager that won the league with Racing after the club’s 35 years of trying) and, perhaps, lack of experience to run a club, led to Marín’s resignment as BC president. That was when Fernando De Tomaso took over and brought Merlo back when Diego Simeone was our manager and started to turn around a bad start to actually get a few results together and with good perspectives for the future.

    De Tomaso showed Simeone the door and brought in Merlo again. Merlo had a terrible second spell at Racing and Simeone went on to win the league with Estudiantes and now he is on the verge of winning it again with River!

    De Tomaso showed no respect for Racing, its tradition, its fans, anything. He took over and he said he had an ambitious project called “R3” (which meant “Racing Club as the 3rd biggest team in Argentina” -behind Boca and River and in front of Independiente and San Lorenzo-). Instead…it seems the gap between Racing and the other big 4 is getting wider and wider!

    We were already threatened by relegation and this guy was talking about how Racing could qualify for the cups this season!

    He sold most of our valuable youngsters (Argentina won the U20 World Cup last year in Canada with 6 Racing players in the squad, 5 of them regular starters such as Sergio Romero, Gabriel Mercado, Matías Sanchez, Claudio Yacob and silver-boot Maxi Moralez). Of course he sold them on a cheap and the only players that seemed to work well in Racing, were not retained or even bought to be sold at a better price. For example, Racing had an option to buy on-loan striker Gonzalo Bergessio for only 120.000 euros. They didn’t buy him. He was released on a free to Benfica and now he is back in Argentina, playing for San Lorenzo and doing a great job for them.

    Those are just examples and I know this is such a long message, but passion is involved and I could go on forever.

    Behind BC there was always a national judge supervising the company’s every move (to be honest, they didn’t do much). Now, a few months back, a couple of former Racing players Salvador Azerrad and Hugo Lamadrid, got together with true Racing fans and they started demonstrating in front of the AFA, in front of BC’s offices and in front of the Congress.

    After their pressure and the fans’ pressure at every game, the government installed an auditor and soon after they called for BC to leave Racing and urged the club to have presidential elections as soon as possible.

    That’s a process that will take roughly a year to be organized and that’s where all my fears are coming from. Destefano and Lalín are already being mentioned as potential president candidates and in order to vote at Racing you have to be a member for at least the last 4 years and not a lot of true fans are in conditions to vote. Plus…you get the usual manipulation of votes and voters by the thiefs that are the candidates and there you go…the circle never stops.

  4. That’s an incredibly good summary of an impossible situation, Seba.

    If only people like you could run Racing.

    I’m afraid that my fears are exactly those you expressed in your first post.


  5. Oh yes Seba, I remember those guys you mention, particularly Lalin – he was the bald guy who was well in with the hooligans wasn’t he? I was very sad when I heard that Racing were to be wound up in 1999, as I’d enjoyed watching players like Mago Capria and Turco Garcia, so it was a relief when the club was saved. Didn’t someone in the legislature try to bring in a bill protecting Racing as a national treasure or something back in 99?
    So although I imagine Racing fans are celebrating that De Tomaso is gone along with BC, I can imagine you are worried that what may come in could be worse. It sounds a lot like the situation at my local club Manchester City, which has also been plagued with ownership problems… fans protested to get rid of a local businessman, Peter Swales, to bring in an ex-player, Francis Lee, but under Lee, the club slipped down to the Third Division! The only man who ever ran the club with any sense, David Bernstein, quit because he couldn’t face down the coach, and now the club is being run by an allegedly crooked despot from the far east who clearly knows nothing about football, and wants to sell all the young players and replace them with flamboyant showmen in their late 20s for huge fees and wages.
    The only advantage Racing fans have is the ability to choose the President now. Do you have a vote, Seba? Is there a non-Lalin or Destefano candidate than true fans can unite around to stop them?
    Would it be better for a candidate to promise stability and gradual building up a good side rather than the rash promises of finishing above Indpendiente and San Lorenzo? Surely fans have learnt not to believe these promises now, just as MCFC fans don’t believe Dr Thaksin when he talks of Champions League football in three years?
    How do Racing still manage to produce such good young players like the ones you mention? Zuculini is another example of a good young player who has just emerged, it seems Racing are better at producing these youngsters than River or Independiente, and San Lorenzo seem only to concentrate on buying established stars. Only Boca and Lanus seem as good as Racing at producing great youngsters.
    Also, what is the attitude now going to be towards Llop? Will he be seen as the last vestige of the Blanquiceleste era, and as such fans will want him out? I think he is doing a reasonable job under difficult circumstances. I would like to see SImeone back at Racing, but this would only happen if River fail to win the title… and we need them to beat Olimpo this weekend to save any chance of Racing avoiding the promocion. But other than Simeone, there isn’t any other available coach I could see who could be better than Llop at this time. Certainly not Falcioni, he was good at Banfield, but he went to Indpendiente and Gimnasia for a bit but was rubbish at both those. And I can’t believe Merlo would come back a third time. Maybe the fans would back him, but football has moved on since 2001, and I don’t think his siege mentality tactics would necessarily move Racing on further from their current position.
    I couldn’t believe De Tomaso’s comments though when people were wondering if Mico would stay. Didn’t he say something like ‘Mico will only leave if Manchester United want him to replace Sir Alex Ferguson!’ ? If you say stupid things like that, you can have no credibility. Like Seba, I just hope that his successor will have some sense.

  6. Thanks for that, Seba. You saved me a little bit of research and an awful lot of time there, and I can now concentrate on the Boca match tonight when I’d got home and come online earlier than usual in the expectation of having to write about five articles at once.

    Matthew, I think sides like Banfield, Vélez, Central and in fact River themselves would probably have something to say about your assertion that ‘Only Boca and Lanus seem as good as Racing at producing great youngsters.’ Of tonight’s squad, only Maidana, Monzón and Boselli (all of whom start on the bench) can be described as ‘youngsters’ who’ve come through Boca’s own academy. I keep the River-supporting side of me out of my writing at all times (I certainly try to, anyway), but there does seem to be a perception abroad that Boca are a particularly great club for bringing their own youngsters through, and notwithstanding, for instance, Cristián Chávez, who won’t be playing tonight, it’s a somewhat exaggerated claim…

  7. Maybe it’s cause you’ve got these two whacking great symbols of the Boca youth academy with high profile clubs in Spain – Gago and Banegas – whilst Tevez is often (mistakenly) identified as a Boca youth product (wasn’t he poached from All Boys?)
    Velez and Central do produce lots of young players, but not too many become really big stars in a league like Spain’s. Castroman and the Zarates were terrific playing for Velez, but never seem to have made the big step to international stardom.
    Likewise, Central star youngsters like Figueroa and Chelito Delgado haven’t yet done it, though there’s still time for Delgado now he’s with a fairly big European club.
    Of course, two of the biggest Argentine young stars of all time – Maradona and Riquelme – came from Argentinos Juniors, and I suppose they used to be a pretty effective production line, but not so much now.

  8. Sam-we may certainly see Chavez tonight for Boca, though off the bench. I think Ischia is gambling on holding Flu to a goal or less, and hoping Boca can score a few. But it Flu gets ahead early, Chavez is sure to come on for Vargas. Or at least that’s how I’ve got it figured.

  9. Matthew, true, but the clubs I mentioned are all playing with a high number of their own players in their current lineups, at least. I was going, really, on the club each player made his first-team debut with, but you’re right in that Tevez started out in the All Boys youth ranks.

    And it’s true, going down with Birmingham (albeit in only six months there) isn’t a great start to European football, but I like Mauro Zárate. He’s only just 21, and I think the very young age of a lot of Argentina’s most promising forwards when they first hit it big has many thinking that a player who’s not already done it by then isn’t going too. He just needs to choose his next transfer more wisely…

    Johnny, when I looked earlier I either skipped over Chávez’s name, or it wasn’t showing up in the list of Boca names (I was looking at Olé’s ‘Ficha del Partido’). It’s certainly there now which makes a lot more sense, and I think you’re right about the gameplan if Flu score early.

    Anyway, game on!

  10. (PS – I should also point out that in looking at youth development issues, I was also considering which clubs – like Racing – would be likely to be considerably better off in terms of league position had they hung onto their best players from the last couple of years, as well as just whose players have gone to Europe and done really well recently. That’s the issue at stake as far as the above discussion is concerned, after all.)

  11. No worries, Sam. My pleasure!

    To answer a few of the questions raised by Matthew.

    No. I don’t have a vote. I’ve been a socio (member) for most of my life. Then in 2004 I left the country for a few years and I stopped paying a little bit before that because I was in total disagreement with the way BC was handling things and I decided I didn’t want to support them by paying a monthly fee.

    I understand that, in order to vote, I need to prove that I was a member for the last 4 years and that will never be the case. Like me, I know a lot of true fans and lifetime members have done the same as me so I wonder how many fans will be able to vote when the elections come.

    As far as promising candidates, the aforementioned Hugo Lamadrid and Salvador Azerrad seem to have a true love for Racing and have dedicated a lot of time to fight against BC and the current establishment (the judge behind BC and all that). They surely look passionate and willing to put the club before any other interests.

    It is believed they could bring Uruguayan Juan Carrasco as manager with fellow Uruguayan Rubén Paz as something like a football director. Both Carrasco and Paz had a good career at Racing in the 80s and Rubén Paz is also my all-time favourite Racing player and childhood hero.

    I don’t think Merlo will ever come back because there are a lot of fans (like me) who really hated his second spell and for all the love we still have for him (after all…he did what more than 60 managers before him in 35 years couldn’t) nobody thinks he could do the job again.

    The attitude towards Llop won’t change despite BC not being around anymore. He is seen as Racing manager and not BC employee. People will absolutely adore him if he pulls out an escape act and I don’t think he will be pointed out as the main culprit if we go down.

    Regarding the youngters, well…Racing are working very well in that field for a good number of years now. We used to have a below-average youth system for many years but that seem to have changed a lot since the mid-90s. Players such as Diego Milito, Mariano González, Lisandro Lopez and the current group of excellent talents are the evidence that the club are doing a great job there.

    The difference between Boca and the rest is that Boca buys the best prospects from other clubs so when they make their debut for their first team, people tend to think they made all their youth career at Boca (take Riquelme and Tevez as examples).

    River were great in the 80s and the 90s and even nowadays. Aimar, Saviola, Mascherano, D’Alessandro. But to me…the World’s Nursery are Argentinos Juniors. Diego, Redondo, Riquelme, Sorín, Cambiasso.

    A special mention should go to the Rosario giants (Central and Newell’s). A couple of clubs that always reveal great talents.

  12. Sam, that’s an excellent point and it’d be a great excercise to make and imagine how Argentine teams will look like if all the best players were still in Argentina and playing for their original clubs (or at least the club from which they moved to Europe)

    Think of this:

    Boca would have: Tevez, Abbondanzieri, Gago, Banega, Cata Diaz.

    River: Aimar, Saviola, Mascherano, Juan Pablo Angel, Sorín, Crespo, Cruz, Lucho Gonzalez…

    Racing: Lisandro Lopez, Claudio Lopez (I don’t want him anyway!), Mariano Gonzalez, Diego Milito.

    Independiente: Forlán, Agüero, Gabriel Milito (surely there are more to add to the list).

    Surely River would have the best team of all!

    Feel free to complete the excercise and include other teams as well. This was done without a proper research and just off the top of my head.

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