Betis Club of Valladolid – the Betis you’ve never heard of

The book ‘Románticos Sportmans’ by José Miguel Ortega claims that it was “the Canterac estate where the Scots played in the 19th century. They were the first football matches in Valladolid and, most likely, Spain.” But just what came of this club?

In the midst of the city of Valladolid, the de facto capital of Castile and Léon and once residence of the kings of Castile, around 20 minutes from the Campo Grande train station and behind a school named after Pablo Picasso, you’ll find a stadium called the Finca de Canterac. With the ability to host  2,000 spectators, it is the home ground of team called Betis.

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The Video Referee Debate

Like all sports, football finds itself in conflict between tradition and modernisation. On one side, clubs and supporters don’t want technology to encroach on the beautiful game and on the other side no one wants a repeat of some of the disallowed goals we have seen over the years,  such Lampard’s ‘goal’ in the WC against Germany and Roy Carroll’s blunder against Spurs – you can see some of the best disallowed goals here on Kick TV.

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Interview | BlogBetis Speaks To Granada FC Ahead of Friday’s Andalucian Showdown

It’s a short turnaround for Real Betis this week after Sunday’s winning trip to Valencia, they host Granada at el Benito Villamarín this Friday.

We know things at Betis can be a little disjointed and unsteady at times but Granada can certainly give us a run for our money. They have seen well over 30 faces come and go this summer alone, including the appointment of new manager Paco Jémez.

Paco is a popular figure in La Liga who took the reigns at everyone’s favourite hipster club, Rayo Vallecano, for four years until his sacking at the end of last season when the Madrid-based club succumbed to the drop.

Ahead of Friday’s all-Andalucian encounter, BlogBetis spoke to Heath Chesters, the English Communications Manager at Granada FC who has the envious task of living in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.

Heath had plenty to say on Granada’s start to the season, the comings and goings, what’s in store for the future and, more urgently, what is in store for this Friday’s game.

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Podcast – Ben Hardman discusses Real Betis with The Spanish Football Show

I was asked to record a podcast a couple of weeks back for an episode on The Spanish Football Show. It wasn’t anything I had ever done before, but thought I’d give it a go…and below is the result.

The recording is about 30 mins along and I discuss all things Real Betis – from Lopera, the financial crisis, the current presidency, the performance this season back in La Liga, Guy Poyet and future aspirations for the club.  Once I got into it, it was an enjoyable experience!

If your ears are ready, you can listen here or click below.

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Round-up: Signings and Gary Neville’s Valencia on Sunday

Let’s start off with the news that always raises a few eyebrows and often helps to create a renewed vigour around a club: new signings. During the January transfer window Sporting Director Macìa has brought in three new arrivals.

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Damiao in training (photo: Real Betis)

The latest to come in was Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao, signed on a short-term contract until the end of the season. Damiao has a good record having played 17 times for Brazil and winning several titles in South America but has struggled for form the last few seasons having played for Internacional, Santos and Cruzeiro. Negotiations looked to have stalled to bring Damiao in, with the Betis board, being led by Ollero, in disagreement between their priorities. However, Haro and Catalan took over negotiations (explained later) and the deal was pulled off.

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The Future – Ahora Betis Ahora

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:

  • President: Juan Carlos Ollero

  • Vice-President: José Miguel López Catalán
  • Vice-President: Ángel Haro García
  • 9 consejeros: José Montoro Pizarro, Tomás Solano Franco, Ernesto Sanguino Gómez, José Mariá Pagola Serra, Adrián Fernández Romero, María Victoria López Sánchez, Rafael Salas García, Ramón Alarcón Rubiales and Cayetano García de la Borbolla Carrero.

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.

News round-up over the International break

First and foremost, apologies for the silent treatment – holidays and what not have somewhat taken over.

We’re coming to the end of an International break with the final games being played tonight (Monday). Spain are already safely through to the finals next summer as Group C winners. They take on Ukraine with an experimental line-up. Of most interest to me is the inclusion of Celta de Vigo striker, Nolito, who happens to be from my adopted Spanish home – Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

So, what’s been happening in the world of Betis? 

The break came at a bad time for Betis who were enjoying a good spell. They recorded back to back wins for the first time this season with wins over Sporting Gijón and Rayo! They were the first back to back victories since the end of May in fact when they beat Racing Santander and Alcorcón to seal promotion and that includes pre-season!

Betis made the most of the break and scheduled a friendly with Mérida, a team from Extremadura. The game played out 0-0 to which Betis won the succeeding penalty shoot out. It was a chance for Pepe Mel to look at the fringe players. Mel opted for Dani G in goal, a back four of Molinero, Pezzella, Jordi and Tarek, defensive midfield of Digard and Xavi Torres, and the rest made up of Kadir, Fabián, Vadillo and Rennella.

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Forgotten Man: Alvaro Vadillo

Two names stand out for me: that of Didier Digard getting his first full 90 minutes for Betis and the return of the forgotten man, Alvaro Vadillo.

After injury Digard desperately needed 90 minutes to up his fitness as he is a player that could come in useful this season. Vadillo very nearly joined Rayo in the summer in a loan deal, but it fell through. Since then he has got his head gone, had to train on his own and worked hard. He got his first minutes here since May and Mel was surprised with his fitness saying he had gone “quite well”.

I’m glad Vadillo stayed and believe he can play a big part in this team too. He plays an almost identical position to Joaquín and I think he can learn a lot from this magnificent pro.

Change in Style

It’s come to light that Betis have had a style change. Instead of possession football they have gone all Sam Allardyce Bolton Wanderers on us. From a wannabe Barcelona they have transformed into a solid block, pressing hard, closing down spaces and playing much more direct. It’s a directness with precision which has become effective, as evidenced in the last game against Rayo.

This should put it into perspective: only Levante have made fewer passes in the league this year!

Pepe Mel summed it up nicely after the Rayo game, he said, “Rayo were waiting for the other Betis.” After a good start to the season, we hope this solid, yet dangerous block will continue to develop and improve.

Ceballos situation still hasn’t been resolved

Let’s be clear, Real Madrid want to sign him. He would like to move to Madrid (most young Spanish players would) but he is also happy at Betis. He has an offer on the table from Betis to make him the third highest earning player here after Rubén Castro and Joaquín; otherwise known as a bloody good offer.

There could be a deal done where Madrid sign the player, but he remains at Betis for another year or two. Madrid aren’t in a rush for him as he won’t walk into the starting line-up, they just want to snap up the talent so no one else gets him.

Players to go in January

Sporting Director, Eduardo Macià, has said that more players will leave in January than come in, if any do. Betis currently have a huge first team squad of 25, so it does need to be chopped down.

Next game for Betis is Espanyol at home on Saturday – look out for the preview.

New mural in Belfast dedicated to legendary manager Patrick O’Connell

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A mural has been unveiled in Belfast to commemorate Patrick O’Connell; a legend of Real Betis.

The mural of Don Patricio was painted on Falls Road by artist Danny Devenney. It is part of a campaign to put a memorial at the unmarked grave of O’Connell in London.

Don Patricio led Real Betis to their first, and only, Spanish league title back in 1935 as I explain here in the history of Betis. His fantastic work in Seville sparked Barcelona’s interest who were in big trouble and facing extinction. The Irishman signed for Barcelona at the start of the ’36-37 campaign.

The reason why he is so revered in Barcelona is because he took the team over to the USA and Mexico to play exhibition games to raise money after the club president, Josep Sunyol, was assassinated by a General Franco henchman during the civil war.

Without getting too much into the politics, Franco was a nationalist and hated everything that Barcelona stood for, not least because it was a big republican stronghold and had their own Catalan language.

The funds O’Connell raised were transferred to a secret bank account in Paris where they were used to keep Los Cules afloat.

Before he was a manager, O’Connell played for Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and captained Manchester United. In Spain he managed Real Oviedo, Racing Santander, Barcelona and Betis.

The unique work of Don Patricio will now be forever remembered on Falls Road.

Segunda Team of the Month – May

El once ideal – the ideal eleven – for the month of May was announced the other day for the Liga Adelante.

And guess which two free-scoring Béticos were included?

Segunda Team of May

Segunda Team of May

Barring the slip up in the last game against Tenerife, it has been an almost perfect month. Four wins out of five and 16 goals scored.

Strike Cancelled: La Liga and Liga Adelante back on

Spain’s High Court has lifted the strike proposed to take place this week until the end of the season, deeming it unlawful.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced the strike a week ago and it very much looked like it would be going ahead. It was backed up by the players’ union (AFE) and high profile football figures.

The RFEF and AFE were not happy with the new law on television rights and money distribution, believing the lower-ranked teams still are not benefiting enough from the deal. This has even been backed up by Real Madrid and Barcelona, although they are still getting a very good deal as Sam Wallace explains in The Independent. 

The saga is still very much on going and hasn’t been settled between the bickering parties, with the National Professional Football League (LFP), who run the top two leagues, providing opposition to the RFEF and AFE.

Betis will play Lugo at home on Sunday evening. Whereas, every single La Liga game will kick off at 6pm GMT on Sunday.