Castro's speech at the Shareholders' Assembly
The Club

AN OUTSTANDING 2016/17 WE NEED TO "PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE"

The chairman highlighted the merits of the 16/17, with more profit, more income and more investment in the squad than in 15/16, alongside historic sporting achievements: the second highest points tally in history in the league and the third consecutive Champions League qualification

Here is a redacted translation of José Castro's speech from the 2017 Shareholders' Assembly: 

Another year at the Sevilla FC General Assembly to give an account to the Club's shareholders.

As in previous years, I do so with the pride of representing an outstanding outfit, on both an economic level and sporting level despite a bad taste in the mouth after Saturday's match at the Santiago Bernabéu. It was clearly a bad one to swallow, a third of this campaign, and one that should force us to reflect on the second half of the season in which we'll play for all our objectives.

It's unacceptable that Sevilla FC gives the image that it offered in the first-half at the Bernabéu or in the last half an hour in Moscow. It's a responsibility of the board to put this indolence behind us because Sevilla FC deserves respect. 

But I come back to the 16/17 season, which I'm here to evaluate:

Again, we had a complete season both on the field and in numbers, which has become something of a tradition. That doesn't make things easier, on the contrary, it presents a huge challenge to our merit. 

"We managed to qualify for the Champions League for the third consecutive year - an historic achievement"

In the 16/17 season we achieved our third consecutive qualification to the Champions League - an historic feat for the club which finds itself more and more comfortable in the dizzying heights of European football. 

We did it, as well, via a fourth-place finish in the league which has eluded us since 09/10. We also managed our second best points tally in history

And we did it all whilst fighting for leadership for much of a campaign that was very long for us but one which saw performances excite and enthral us by like very few others in the history of our team.

In the Champions League we surpassed what we did in 15/16 and got through the group stages, even though - like in 07/08 and 09/10 - the excitement of the quarter finals evaded us thanks to an opponent that we always felt superior to but did things more efficiently when it mattered. In that first leg the missed opportunities, missed penalies... That's football and you learn from those blows. In that area, it pains me to say, we still have work to do. Finally, in the Copa del Rey our adventure was short, crossing paths with Real Madrid who all but ended the tie in the first leg. 

"Krichowyak and Gameiro, painful departures but outstanding econonomically speaking"

Honestly, I think we can feel proud of the success that our First Team had, especially given that on a day-to-day basis, the team and the squad had a number of complications.

After three and a half years with Unai Emery at the helm, the gamble of the board, led by Monchi, was to give the reigns of the First Team to Jorge Sampaoli, a coach who came as an acclaimed Copa América champion with Chile. Sampaoli came in with a successful South American footballing history but had never managed in Europe. 

It was a risky gamble, yes but above all an ambitious gamble, just as we were ambitious with our squad-building. Again we sold important players, in this case: Krychowiak and Kevin Gameiro.

Painful departures but outstanding ones in economic terms, which has continued to follow a model of turnover that has led us to success at the start of this decade: sell very well to invest better, making the best possible squad available to consolidate ourselves in sporting terms.

"There were times where this chairman had count to a thousand rather than ten for the good of the club"

Thanks to these sales and the financial wellbeing of the club we were able to make a lot of reinforcements and we turned a notch up on our sporting project. Of course, that wasn't simple, because very few believed in the viability of a financial project led by Jorge Sampaoli. The team struggled to get going but they eventually did and in some fashion. We put together wins, with vibrancy and goals - a lot of goals. And for much of the campaign, we dreamed of achievements that were beyond us. 

We ended up fading but make no mistake - the road was marvellous. Marvellous and difficult, very difficult because it was a campaign not exempt from rumours surrounding our coach, Jorge Sampaoli and our Director of Football, Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, Monchi. 

The Argentina National Side, FC Barcelona, Roma, Argentina again. This is the price you pay for being at the top. Being at the top brings with it the disadvantage of always being in the shop window of the footballing world... In the shop window for all our professionals as became clear. 

On occasions, this chairman didn't have to count to ten but to a thousand for the good of the club and all to, above all else, prioritise the performance of the First Team squad and the achievement of objectives. And I don't regret it because it's a responsibility that being chairman of Sevilla FC demands and I take it on. And prudence shouldn't be confused with tight-fistedness. 

"Prudence shouldn't be confused with tight-fistedness"

Sampaoli left like he had to, as was stipulated in his contract. And Monchi also left, as he wanted to and as - above all - he deserved after nearly 30 years at the club and 17 years as Director of Football. We didn't just do everything possible, we did everything impossible to try and keep him... but he decided to leave and in the wake of that decision, we rolled out the red carpet and gave him our thanks from the bottom of our hearts. Monchi will always be one of our own and this will always be his home.

We endured with success nevertheless, in a season where speculation about the future of our professionals was a constant we had to deal with.

We also dealt with the complex reality that was the eradication of insults at our stadium in a bid to avoid fines and in extreme circumstances the partial or full closure of our stadium. 

The incident of the eve of our Champions League clash with Juventus forced the Commission against Violence to impose non-negotiable measures that were not accepted by our fans. 

The board that presided at the time fulfilled their orders even though in doing so, they created a conflict with part of the fanbase.  

"Violent fans and violent behaviour have no place in the club but neither do double standards"

However, after coming to terms with what happened in other stadiums with banned banners and feeling discriminated against when compared to other cases, we decided to allow the return of banners to Biris, having found no clear legal grounds against. 

It's clear that that episode didn't benefit our sporting interests but as chairman I tried to always act with the responsibility my position demands, always safeguarding the interests of the club. 

That being said, I want to reemphasise commitment to eradicating any form of violence in our stadium because I'm convinced you can support Sevilla without insulting opponents. 

Violent fans and violent behaviour have no place in Sevilla FC but nor do discrimination or double standards.

In that regard, I want to recognise that all Sevillistas have understood that insulting doesn't just not help but harms us gravely. Insults at the Sánchez-Pizjuán are now old news and I think that has shown the maturity of our fanbase. Let's continue like this because that's what will serve us best.

...

I am the first to highlight the importance of the demands of our surroundings. When I speak about surroundings I talk specifically about the fans and the press.  

Those demands, which we are always grateful for, I consider one of the keys to our success because they force us to never rest on our laurels - they push us to be the antithesis of mediocrity

"Let's not let those demands distract us from our achievements"

But please, let's not let those demands stop us from appreciating what we've achieved, which in the opinion of this chairman is beyond what we could have imagined for three sparkling years. Let's not let demands stop us appreciating what we enjoy today. 

Without going too deep, for the second year running we're in the last-16 of the best club-competition in the world, the only other Spanish side alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

We aren't Madrid nor Barcelona, nor Atlético Madrid - we don't even have the financial potential of Valencia... We aren't them. We are Sevilla FC and with a genuine model of turnover  we break boundaries and compete not just at the top but right at the top of our capability.

We are a unique success story in Europe because nobody has gifted us anything. Never surrendering and competing at all times is part of Sevilla FC's DNA. 

That's why it hurts so much to see the team do what it did at the Bernabéu this Saturday - it's a stain, albeit a big stain - but it doesn't taint the work we have done in past years

"We are Sevilla FC and our model of genuine turnover breaks barriers and allows us to compete at the top"

I think that the respect Sevilla FC has ground out in continental football is something that should make us feel special. Don't doubt it, we are special. We are Sevilla FC and we are all fortunate to be Sevillistas

...

In this new 17/18 season we're looking to reaffirm qualification and even do better, being always conscious of the difficulty of such an enterprise. 

Monchi left and the club opted for continuity, giving control of directing football to Óscar Arias, who has led our sporting project this season, supplying Eduardo Berizzo's First Team squad. 

After these first four months of competition we can say with total honesty that the team needs to improveeven more so after what we saw at the BernabéuBut it's in precisely that margin of difference that we need to find our impetus, because despite having suffered three unacceptable and unseemly losses, we're fifth in the league and three points off our target, having gone away to the most difficult stadiums, and in the round of 16 of the Champions League for the second consecutive year - an historic feat that we've never achieved before.

"The team needs to improve but we are fifth and in the round of 16 for the Champions League"

Though I know I'm here to talk about the 16/17 season exclusively, I would like to stop for a moment to talk about Eduardo Berizzo. His efforts in charge of the team have been questioned almost from the beginning but the confidence that this chairman and the whole organisation has in his work is still at its maximum

The fluidity and consistency of our game will come but for the time being I'm happy with the results and with the quality of the coach as a human being - who I'm convinced is going to triumph at Sevilla FC. The mental strength he is showing to fight his illness is admirable. Those of us who know him and believe in him know that he's going to come back from this even stronger than ever before. We are hoping to see him back in the dugout and very soon. 

Sevilla has to give him time because I am convinced that performances will go from strength to strength to strength. But above all else - and this is what I want to be clear on - we have to give him stability

"Confidence in Berizzo is still at a maximum. I am convinced he will triumph at Sevilla"

...

At this point I don't want to forget the important support our fanbase gave us over the last campaign. I want to thank Sevillistas, especially our season-ticket holders, who regularly fill out the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán and make it an all but impenetrable fortress. It's not in vain that we're a year without defeat there. Thanks also to the Sevillistas who travel away and accompany the team wherever it plays. It's exciting to remember matches last season where we were playing hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from our stadium but it felt like we were at home.

I am one for thinking that the team is a reflection of its fanbaseAnd our fans are loyal, completely loyal but also ambitious and always demanding. That's why the club should always thank the fans; their bite makes sure we always give 120%. 

"The club should always thank the fans; their bite makes sure we always give 120%"

Thank you also to our employees, because we who experience the club day by day know that behind the eleven players that step onto the field every Sunday there is a lot of work and dedication and diverse facets that mean the atmosphere is advantageous and the conditions are at an opimum for our players to win.

I can only say that I feel proud of being at the helm of a ship full of so many valuable and esteemed professionals.

I don’t want to finish without making constructive-criticism. I’m sure we do things badly. What’s more, if I want to be remembered for anything it’s being a humble chairman. I have no problem recognising when we haven’t been at our best and in my years in charge, decisions and policies have been reconsidered when found unfair or ineffective. And we’ll continue in that manner.

Of course, I want to be clear with you, esteemed shareholders, that all the decisions the board makes will be in the best interests of the club. Also, in making my evaluation, beyond raising the bar that we like impose on ourselves, we have to enjoy the moments of splendour that our Sevilla passes through.

"Beyond raising the bar that we like impose on ourselves, we have to enjoy the moments of spleandour that our Sevilla passes through"

A surplus of over 20 million Euros after tax, healthy accounts, the second highest points tally in our league history, a third successive qualification for the Champions League, a new qualification to the last-16 of the greatest club competition in the world… Do you not think we should be proud of what we’ve achieved?

Let’s put what we’re doing into perspective, because beyond painful stumbling blocks, since the beginning of this century, we’re experiencing possibly the best era in the history of Sevilla FC. I don’t know about you, but this chairman will continue to enjoy all of our successes and sporting triumphs.

This marvellous reality in our hands is beyond what we could have dreamed of decades ago. Let’s enjoy the moment, appreciate it, defend it and fight to make it even more special and precious. For my part, it definitely won’t be for a lack of trying.

Thank you very much and long live Sevilla FC.

 

 

 

 

Communication Department