The fall of Super Depor

Administrators see exit of club president as only salvation

Augusto César Lendoiro with a Depor club flag.
Augusto César Lendoiro with a Depor club flag.XURXO LOBATO

After two months of picking through the accounts at Deportivo la Coruña, the court-appointed administrators have presented a damning report on the stewardship of Augusto César Lendoiro and suggested it would be better for all concerned if the club president were to step down after 25 years in the post.

“The real causes of [Deportivo’s] insolvency lie in the fact of having maintained a mode of management disconnected from reality, taking on debts and investments for amounts absolutely outside of the economic means of the company,” the report reads.

Furthermore, it contradicts the figures presented by Lendoiro at the last shareholders’ meeting in December. The president puts the club’s debts at 98.7 million euros, 34 million of which is owed to the tax man, whom Lendoiro accused of drowning the club in embargoes. The administrators say Deportivo’s debt stands at 156 million euros, 94 million of which is owed to the Treasury — almost a sixth of the combined total that all Spanish soccer clubs owe to the state.

Deportivo’s situation is precarious to say the least. The club sits bottom of Primera División and despite a local derby win over Celta last weekend is still six points adrift of 17th-placed Zaragoza. With a grand total of four wins all season, a miracle is needed if Depor is to avoid slipping straight back into Segunda, with all the financial implications of relegation. In spite of this, Lendoiro and the bean counters do agree on one thing: the club is viable. However, the latter state that will only be the case if the former is removed from the equation.

Among the list of creditors presented to the judge by the club is Lendoiro himself, who is owed 109,219 euros. The administrators claim this is improper because Deportivo did not inform the Mercantile Registry of changes to the club statutes, which in 1999 enshrined a salary for Lendoiro equivalent to one percent of the club’s budget. The statute in force recognized that this is impossible.

Lendoiro’s salary currently stands at 400,000 euros a year, but the judge has accepted the administrators’ petition to have it canceled. In the 13 years since the 1999 agreement, Lendoiro has pocketed somewhere in the region of eight million euros as president of Deportivo. During that period, the team won the Spanish league, the King’s Cup, two Spanish Supercups and reached the semifinals of the Champions League. At the time of “Super” Depor’s zenith, the club sounded out the then-new Bankruptcy Law. Lendoiro rejected the idea.

“The origin of the insolvency is that assets were wiped out because costs were higher than income, a situation that continued apace as though debts did not have to be paid and promises could be ignored [...] To blame the tax authority or other creditors constitutes sarcasm in trying to avoid recognition of a reckless and misguided business model,” the report reads.

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