Football: Liverpool against Villarreal, a world apart
The Spanish club, Petit Poucet of the last four of the Champions League, moves this Wednesday (9:00 p.m.) in the semi-final to go to a favorite for the final coronation, the Reds and their six continental crowns.
Villarreal are coming off a Europa League crown last year on penalties against Manchester United. And the « Yellow Submarine », semi-finalist of the C1 in 2006, can boast of two Intertoto Cups (in 2003 and 2004).
The trophy cabinet of this club from a small town of 50,000 inhabitants on the east coast of Spain is no match for the international titles won by the Reds.
Liverpool have won six C1s, the last in 2019, and lost three finals, the last in 2018. The English club have won three Europa Leagues and four UEFA Super Cups. A total of fourteen international titles.
In December, Villarreal approved a budget of €138.7m. Just with his current career in C1, the “Yellow Submarine” has secured 57.67 M EUR in UEFA bonuses (not counting TV rights), or more than a third of his budget. The main sponsor, the ceramic manufacturer Pamesa, injects approximately EUR 3.7 million per year.
Nothing comparable with the English club. Liverpool’s income stands at €550.4m this season according to Deloitte, the 7th highest total in Europe.
The wage bills are incomparable: 143 M EUR for Villarreal, around 314 M EUR for Liverpool.
The mythical Anfield is twice as big as the Ceramics stadium (54,000 seats against 23,000), and the English club plans to expand its enclosure to 61,000 seats.
During its first participation in the Champions League in 2005/2006 (where it had already reached the last four at the end of an epic journey), the Spanish club had to carry out work in its stadium, still called El Madrigal, for the comply with UEFA standards.
The training center in Villarreal, a suburb of the city of Castellon, is club-wide. In November 2020, Liverpool left Melwood, their 70-year-old training ground, for brand new facilities in Kirkby, to the north-east of the city, which cost €56m.
In October 2010, Liverpool, in difficulty in the rankings (18th in the English championship) and economically, was bought by the group of American investors Fenway (then called New England Sports Ventures) for around 340 M EUR, debt included.
Among the main investors, we find John Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, or the current president Tom Werner. A few years later, NBA star LeBron James also bought shares.
Fewer stars and glitter in Villarreal, owned for 24 years by the Roig family, a powerful Spanish family with immense fortune, owner of the Mercadona supermarket chain and the Pamesa ceramics factories.
On May 15, 1997, Fernando Roig Alfonso agreed during a meeting in a bar to buy the club, then in D2, for 432,000 euros. His ambitious project is bearing fruit a quarter of a century later.
In October 2021, Forbes estimated his fortune at $1.9 billion.
Condemned to live in the shadow of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, currently 7th in La Liga (his final ranking last year), Villarreal entered a new dimension with the arrival in 2020 of coach Unai Emery who qualified him for the Champions League on the benefit of his victory in the Europa League.
The Champions League, on the other hand, is a habit for Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp, who has built a special place for himself by offering the Reds a title of champion of England in 2020, thirty years after the last national coronation.