"Unicaja must continue to be a nobleman of Spanish basketball"

Presentation of the new president. The club will continue with “the fifth-sixth budget of ACB”. Juanma Rodríguez returns to sports management.


Former international referee Antonio Jesús López Nieto has appeared before the media as the new president of Unicaja Baloncesto, a position he has held for days and which has made him leave the LaLiga arbitration appointment committee to occupy the presidential office in Los Guindos. His public debut as the maximum president has lasted almost an hour in which he has reviewed his arrival at the club and the rest of current affairs that surround the Malaga team (sports project, Champions League, budget, wear and tear of the fans ...).

Initial message: “To express my gratitude to the Council for appointing me president, a position that I accept with all satisfaction and pride. It is a very important personal challenge. I appreciate the trust. For 40 years the entity has made a firm commitment to basketball, all the presidents have done an exceptional job, I wanted to point out the longest-serving president, Eduardo García, who has navigated with a very complicated scenario, with the pandemic, without an audience , and their dedication is to be appreciated. In this period of transition, not crisis, we had to outline the idea of what the strategic plan was. Thanks to the manager, the sports director, the interim president, Sergio Corral, the club has continued to operate in an operational, clear manner, responding to day-to-day problems. When we were clear about the strategic plan and that he was going to be president, it was the opportunity to convey what the idea of the club is in the coming years and our strategic plan. ”

Club budget: “We are going to have an operating budget practically the same as last season, with a deviation of 6-7%, with caution in the occupation of the facility. In the forecast of public income we have been prudent. Last year they were unaware of the conditions. Now we have been very prudent, knowing something else. The operating budget is the same, in a year of crisis, where all professional clubs have had losses. Of course, the budget is met, there can be no deviations, we have had to resort to our own resources to reach this scenario. Our main objective as a professional club is the ACB League, which is the natural setting for our team, where our sponsor must have maximum projection, where there must be visibility of the matches and where we must develop our strategy. Looking for formulas that make the viewer more visible. We have to be in a situation where the fifth-sixth budget of the competition will correspond. Many times we will continue to be a nobleman in the competition. ”

Bet on the Champions League: “There is a decision we make from responsibility. I will be clear and sharp. The Euroleague theme is unfeasible for this club, in the parameters by which it currently moves. A society managed by 11 clubs that direct the rest in an ambiguous way does not seem appropriate to us. Valencia, with a very high budget and ninth and with 18 victories, does not receive an invitation, which goes to other teams. In the current parameters, discarded the Euroleague, you have to choose between the Eurocup and the Champions League. It is a pure strategy, for the future, for the present and for competitiveness. The Eurocup has 18 games with every Wednesday with a requirement. The Champions League allows 15-day breaks at the beginning of the season, avoids the risk of injury and adapts to reality ".

Objectives of the change to the Champions: “The competitive format of the Eurocup is with a group of 18 games, for three months we are competing to see what is the order of the first eight. In the current format of basketball we don't think it's attractive. In the Champions there is competitiveness, there is emotion, if you lose two games you are out. It is said that the Eurocup has better teams than the Champions. Obviously, there are three teams like Valencia, Lokomotiv and Virtus that have a tremendously higher budget, added to the Partizan by a tremendously media coach. They are not in the Euroleague because of those ambiguous criteria. In the rest, being benevolent, they are even. There is a coincidence. All the teams that qualify in the Champions League, except for Valencia and Virtus, have been better in their leagues. Joventut and Morabanc were behind Burgos and Tenerife. Dijon and Lavrio, our rivals, played the finals of their competition. In Germany, in Turkey there are two teams from the Champions League and two from the Euroleague in the semi-finals, none from the Eurocup. There are champions in the Eurocup in the Champions, plus Besiktas, PAOK Thessaloniki, Rytas, Tofas Bursa, Riga…, who have a name very similar to those of the Eurocup. The last thing is the economic thing. In the parameters that we move, if we remain champions, we win twice as much if we win the Champions League than the Eurocup. The Champions are continuous prizes. Going from the first round to the second we would have the same as if you were third in the Eurocup. It is more strategy for the future and sports. The economic is not bad in the times we have. It is what we intend with the change. With many teams in the Champions League, I have experienced many Euroleague matches here. Nor were there so many people with CSKA in a game that I have seen. The road is long, everything was consulted in a sporting way with the sports officials and it was considered appropriate to play the Champions League ".

Project level: "To convey to the fans that we will be a solid team, on and off the court. Inside, more muscle as a club. Our coaches and players will have to feel the pride of wearing the green jersey. Outside we will have our place in the Champions and the ACB, because in the Euroleague and Eurocup you can't. I am proud to represent the club in the ACB. We will have a competitive club, we have been in a transition period, redefining our project, but not in crisis. A man who He left in May and comes back now. He would see what the coaching staff decided, operations and signings have been carried out. Of the multitude of names that have come out, they have not even been raised, it is something to correct. We are trying to finish the squad with a Five guarantees to have a club that competes, according to the technicians. I come to facilitate the financing, the packaging. In sports, those who are in charge are those who know, the sports director and the coach. ador. We have to be aware of what it involves. Executives are executives, it is good that they are amateurs, that they do not delve. We want Carpena to enjoy, I thank you and ask for your patience. We are going to do things well, we are going to count on them. For those who doubt, I absolutely respect it, I accept all opinions. I am convinced that from below it will be my job, I will do well to keep up with the previous presidents. I will work from 8:00 until it goes out into the sun. As I had warned, the team is going to get on track. There will be no doubts with the women's team, the technicians will evaluate the quarry and to organize it we have to do what the technicians understand. This season the squad is done, the market is as it is, perhaps with freedom of action there would have been a different squad. But with the market there is no need to run, it will come to less, I am convinced that you have to go slowly. If we have the opportunity to maintain our budget, our course, we may make a more versatile template. But now I am delighted, I have landed in the club and it is a well structured club, but it has twists and turns and an imprint that each one puts on it. The fans that are very calm, that they give us the margin of 50-100 days. I do not care if they mess with me, the rest of the staff, players and workers, that they support them because it is good for the entity. ”

Fans: “I am a soccer man, I cannot deny my origins, I have been a member of Caja de Ronda for many more years than of Málaga. Professional sports have to be general. Not everyone who sees Carlos Sainz or Alonso every Sunday has to be understood. If you only see the basket web, we get to few people. The final of the ACB League for the title, with the two greats and a historical player like Pau Gasol, was watched by 176,000 people. That same day there was a Smartbank League match in the promotion phase, a Girona-Rayo, and 250,000 watched it. Basketball has the obligation to open up to generalism, to enter into entertainment. I don't want to think that if you have to bring a 5, a 4 or a 2, that's what those who know are for. You have to make viable and set the parameters. We are not going to bring a player of two million, there are my limits. In sports, those who know. ”

LaLiga exit: “For me it is a pride. I have left 16 years in LaLiga with some sadness. I hesitated, I knew what was coming, there was dust, but the challenges call me, it is to represent the most important club in Andalusia. I saw Málaga matches at La Rosaleda, with players who have unfortunately already passed away. Matches against Mollet, in Miraflores, I experienced the historic decline in Alcalá de Henares against Cajamadrid with Brabender in front, when with Moka Slavnic we stayed in Albolote. When there was a fusion with Marists, I am a man of principle and at that time I did not like it and I left. I have followed basketball as a fan, it is a pride. My obligation is to work, work and work ".

Movement in recent weeks: “He was a counselor before he became president. It was being informed, he knew the parameters in which he could move. I saw names that came out and they didn't add up ... How were we going to sign him. I know how the sports world works, agents use your name to raise prices and sign elsewhere. I have made it very clear, I am already the boss. Many of those who have leaked names hardly wear green. "

His appointment as chairman: “I was asked to be a director when I was appointed a director by the Unicaja Banking Foundation. In that transition period the club has worked. I have thought it over carefully. The challenge put me, it motivated me, I'm here for that. At this point, it is probably the last sports project, I want to do things that I like. I like doing things, trying to do them well, trying to get the team up and running. It is an entity that is there with its titles, nothing to object to from the previous presidents. You take the charge and the load. I have not considered a period of time to be. I have not signed anything yet, I have the powers, nor a contract, which will be done. I come to do things, I have left a great contract and I have come because I am excited ".

Objectives: "A strategic plan has objectives. Hitting the signing of a five, that Juanma and Fotis are at work. I'm not stupid, the first thing you earn credit to work on and have a margin is to have results. Players must be required to wear the green shirt is a source of pride. The maximum commitment. They must have an absolute commitment in delivery, there are days and bad times, but the commitment must be absolute. I have been three days, I have done my analysis quite intense. There will be Some changes in internal functioning, the connection with the fans is fundamental, it goes beyond the economic. The fans are priceless, the clubs seek the loyalty of the people. We want them to be able to return, to recover young people, the stands, you have to compete with Netflix and HBO, get young people to go to consumer sports, to become fond of it. We are going to maintain the quarry, there must always be players from Malaga, who are the flag of a fruitful quarry, let there be identity, we have to continue, if we can, improving quarry performance ”.

Revision: “Whatever we are doing, through the sports director, we must respect their privacy. We have signed contracts that we fully assume, this is professional sport. The club right now wants it is a five that somehow reinforces our inner game. If there were any way out ... I don't even consider that we are negotiating, for me they are my players, the best in Spain. ”

Unicaja contributions: “Here I am as president of the club. In the 40 years of entity, I have memory. There have been years when it was a savings bank, social work, bank, foundation ... The contributions have been indistinct. We have the same budget as last year. We have to get resources from all areas so that the club works better. I appreciate having the same budget. The Foundation owns the club. It has had to resort to its own resources to reach this scenario of 10 million euros. They are own funds that 100% belong to the Foundation. To have an operating budget of the highest level. Few clubs are only down 6% at this juncture. ”

Farewell to Manolo Rubia: “We are very grateful to Manolo Rubia for the work he has done in these years and now in a situation of transition, not crisis. We continue with the work. We have to sign five. There will not be five or 10 movements, the market does not move. An offer came alone and it was for us to pay and play for another team. And it is clear that in my hunger I command. We have what we have, we are delighted. Those who are there are good players, you have to continue with a minimal challenge, the idea is to continue being a nobleman of Spanish basketball. It took four months because a strategy had to be defined and I prefer that the message is delivered by the right person. The club has not stopped working. From today it aims to be a more professional club and more in reality. We do not have the possibility of being in the sphere of the Euroleague. Either the Euroleague is readjusted or we generate a lot of money, a lot of resources. My dear Malaga has 20 times more audiovisual rights than we do. I would like to collect 10 million. We have 600,000 euros, but some parameters. The salaries are not even with both situations. Everything can be improved. There is a fundamental formula. Basketball has to return to certain schedules and negotiate open games and at the same time, that the radios talk about basketball again. I was with José María García in the final of Ansley's triple and that game was heard by all of Spain. Everyone knew who was who in a very remarkable basketball. Now it is for very expert people. There are signed contracts, but it can't be that when basketball goes to the media the first thing is the NBA, then the European competitions and something very small the ACB, which is what the sponsors are interested in. Unicaja does not have branches in Slovenia or Slovakia. The main market is Spain. A time of strategy is coming, you have to take the highest basketball, that the generalist is hooked, as it happens in tennis, in Formula 1 or in football ”.

The enthusiasm of the fans: “The fans are excited about victories, with passion and effort. Marketing and communication teams can make good campaigns, like the ones they had already prepared, but it is the history of all sports. This is passion and victory. We are committed to listening to the fans, knowing what their claims are, and also telling them the truth. We cannot compete with the Euroleague teams, I want to compete as equals, not only economically but also administratively. We are going to compete the same in the Champions League and in the ACB. Not there in the Euroleague, there they decide in an ambiguous way. A salary cap? The salaries are disproportionate but it is a private matter. Numbers only have one way. There is an example, the Khimki had a magnificent budget, but the income was taken with pins. Kurtinaitis, his coach, brought two sponsorships of 10 million and 12 million, he is fired and the sponsors with him left and the club no longer exists. Like all fans, I am looking forward to enjoying the competition. We are awaiting Health so they can come. 25% has been established, I foresee that we will improve to know what the parameters are. From marketing and communication there is a subscription campaign prepared and we have to see. You have to have a health passport, that seems certain, that fans should have it. The vaccination passport is essential. Football, which starts earlier, opens the way for us. El Carpena is a closed facility and there will be at least 30%. We hope to exceed that figure, to accommodate it and that they enjoy basketball. ”

Club ownership: “The fan can be absolutely calm. The Foundation is 100% owner. By having 30% of the new bank, the bet is continuity with basketball. The one who has brought this project here is Unicaja. It would be very unfair to question her for lowering the budget by 10%. As a last thing, I have to say that I am not here to close anything, but to maintain an illusion and a project. I am going to continue walking around Malaga and I am going to continue doing it calmly.

Possible co-sponsor: “We are down 6%. If a co-sponsor comes, delighted. But this is not I invite and you pay. I guarantee that people are not at the door. The installation is not ours, we cannot use the naming. The City Council proudly bears the name of José María Martín Carpena. If there is a co-sponsor with 2-3 million euros, of course, but the times are not like that ”.

Women's team: "It starts later and we will continue in the same line of action. It will not be diminished either economically or sportingly. For sports and structure decisions I will rely on the sports director. The manager will be my right hand".

Juanma Rodríguez returns to sports management

Unicaja's new sports project will be led by Juanma Rodríguez, who returns to the position of sports director 11 years later. Rodríguez already held this position for 16 years, between 1994 and 2010, and returned to the entity under the leadership of López Nieto to relieve Manolo Rubia.

During his previous time at the club, Unicaja won the ACB League, Copa del Rey and Copa Korack titles, as well as their presence in the Euroleague Final Four in 2007.

Juanma Rodríguez has exercised these last seasons successfully at Coosur Real Betis, where he achieved promotion to ACB and has achieved permanence in the top category these last two seasons.

Photos from as.com
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