This week is a decisive week in the future of Real Betis.
Back in September, a day being labelled as ’23-S’, Betis journeyed through a historic moment. For the first time since Betis became a limited company (corporation for the US readers), a fully democratic process was completed to elect the new club administration.
I’ve debated writing about the administration election and shenanigans surrounding the Real Betis club board and shares for a fair while, but now is the time. I’ve not written about it for a number of reasons, mainly because it gets complicated to both read and understand (hard enough in English), then takes time to translate into simple English that everyone can understand! But there’s nothing like giving it a go…
In the red (green and white corner) we have the Ahora Betis Ahora campaign – headed up jointly by José Miguel López Catalán and Ángel Haro. Their campaign was all about the complete and full union of Beticismo. In the dark, dingy blue corner we have the rather sinister campaign of one of Lopera’s old chums, Manolo Castaño.
A poll back in September by alfinaldelapalmera.com showed Ahora Betis Ahora with 90% of the public vote!
Every single shareholder, or accionista, had a vote in September where good prevailed over the perceived evil – Ahora Betis Ahora were elected. Although it should have been, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion; old, decrepit, self-flagellating allegiances threatened to get in the way. But alas no, we have a new and vibrant board, who all (hopefully) have Betis’ best interests at heart. After the club being so badly betrayed in the past by Lopera and his chums, the fans need a board they can trust in and who have Betis’ best wishes at heart; this board seems to fit the bill.
Whilst I’m doing this properly, let’s have a quick gander at the 12 who make up the Betis board:
September was the start, now December is the finish with the same process happening this Thursday, which is being labelled as 17-D. It’s another big meeting of shareholders – La Junta General Ordinaria de Accionistas – perhaps the most important in the clubs history where Ahora Betis Ahora are hoping to finish the job off so they can continue with their project.
However, the shares is where it gets messy as many of them did belong to former president and majority shareholder, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera who had 51% of the shares, under the name Farusa, back in the early 90s. However, in 2010 he sold a packet of shares after a lot of pressure from the fans who were unhappy (to say the least) with the running of the club. He sold them to his amigo, Luis Oliver, for €18m.
Around this time in 2010, after years of calls for judicial action from the fans, Judge Mercedes Alaya froze all of Farusa’s shares. Adminstration of the club was handed over to those the club, and the judge, could trust, namely Rafael Gordillo.
Now, the men behind Ahora Betis Ahora and indeed others, are going through the process to get the minority shareholders to back them and accionistas are beginning to say who they give their support to 31.34% of Betis’ shares belong to Farusa, but these are still frozen by the court and therefore are not included in Thursday’s meeting.
At the moment, Ahora Betis Ahora have 23% – they believe they will need around 26% to better that of Farusa and Manolo Castaño. Haro and Catalán are hoping to get up to 29%. Just this Monday, it’s come to light that the nephew of Lopera, Javier Páez, has been given just under 20% of the shares from la junta after the club refused to give them to Bitton Sport (bad guys – read Luis Oliver). Aside from this 20%, there isn’t too much love from the rest of the shareholders to the old guard, who have lost even more respect since September. The only trump card that Castaño has in hoping to beat Ahora Betis Ahora is if the 31.34% of Farusa’s shares are released to their ‘owners’. Without this he should, and the whole club hopes, that he will fall short of the support Haro and Catalán will get.
Ahora Betis Ahora have named the pillars of their campaign, amongst them are:
- To build a united Betis
- Construct a new stand behind Gol Sur
- An affordable Betis for everyone
- A Betis for children with a focus on the cantera
- Develop the ladies team
- Develop Radio Betis and Betis TV
They just need the support now to take the club forward and this Thursday will decide what happens to the club.