A week has already passed since Elche got the permanence. Do you believe it already?
I’m still assimilating and mentalizing it. In the end things have turned out well. The bit of luck that we have lacked throughout the season we had in the last two days.
In the end, the insistence and not throwing in the towel has had its reward …
In football you have to know how to get up and know how to turn the page. After certain games such as in Huesca, in Pamplona, where we did not give a good image, and, especially, that of Alavés, in which we had a lot of expectations, the dressing room was quite touched. Against Alavés we missed Raúl Guti, who is a fundamental player and he has shown this by being the footballer who has played the most minutes. The team was quite sunk, but you had to realize that you only had to think about winning in Cádiz. Escribá knew how to encourage and recover the players that as long as there were mathematical possibilities we had to be there and that’s how it was.
The players were the ones who always believed …
Faith is important and there are footballers like Pere Milla who has a lot. He is playing and cheering for the team, when he is in the stands the same, in the locker room … It is pure energy. Fidel is also one of this type of footballer and, in the end, they infected the rest of the squad and they believed.
We have to learn and correct the things that have not been done well and build a competitive squad
Staying the first season is the hardest. Could the next most feasible be?
It has been a difficult season. It is always said that the first year after promotion is special and the most difficult. We went up in Girona on August 23. All the templates were already, practically, made. The market was very complicated. We had to go fishing there and here. The players also had to have ten days of vacation. This year we have two months to plan the new season. We have to learn from mistakes. There are things that have been done well and others have not. We must correct them and set up a competitive squad and a solid team. I hope that we do not suffer until the last minutes of the last day and waiting for the result of another team as this season has passed. I hope that we can also count on an audience, which is very important to lift the spirits of the players in difficult moments, especially in home games. We hope to do a nice project.
Could it be the first step to consolidate Elche in the First Division and spend a long time in the top flight?
This season has been the first and now we want to confirm and consolidate ourselves in First and be there for many years. We want to do a medium-term project and do things well, because staying in First is essential. Achieving it for the second consecutive year would allow us to have a balance and it would give us a lot of play and we have a stadium and a city to achieve it. Escribá says that the second season is also difficult and that when the teams begin to consolidate, it is after three years in the highest category. We hope to do so.
In addition, being in First allows to finish normalizing the economic situation …
The economic situation was already normalized this year. The club is healthy and has a structure to be viable, both in First and Second. We no longer have that backpack tied to our back, but staying in First would help us to enlarge the project.
And grow as a club, be able to finally have a sports city and reform the Martínez Valero …
Of course, it is essential to grow as a club. We will be able to allocate more resources to form a competitive workforce. Everything revolves around the first team. We want to have a sports city in accordance with a First Division team, carry out a comprehensive and progressive remodeling of the stadium, which is now 45 years old. With the hardships we have gone through, with some years, even in Second B, we couldn’t even try. We want to turn the entire environment of Martínez Valero into a pleasant place to, in addition to going to football, to walk and enjoy. Make it a playful space. I have been to all the Primera stadiums this season and most of them have a pleasant environment. Ours seems to be soulless and we want to turn it into a beautiful space.
Until Valencia, Madrid or Granada there is no first-class football and we have to take advantage of that to attract fans
Could the example be Levante, which is consolidating in the First Division and has already renovated its stadium?
Levante have done things very well. Its president, Quique Catalán, is doing a commendable job by keeping quiet. He has renovated the stadium and made it very beautiful. It has the best marker video in all of Spain. We must have a good school with a good foundation. That’s the idea. We are in a privileged place. The closest city with First Class football is Valencia and then through the center we have to go to Madrid and south to Granada. There are close historical teams, such as Hercules or Murcia, which are three categories below us. We are in First Division and we must take advantage of all the areas of influence that we have around us to attract people and fans.
And in the long term, follow Villarreal’s example and end up winning a European title?
Villarreal is a club to envy. It is an example of a sports model and the image to look at. He has been working very well for many years and making the most of his quarry, with a quality grassroots football that he has also known how to sign. In the case of the stadium, not because it is embedded in the city and they cannot grow.
How is the matter of the Sports City? Bragarnik said that the announcement would be made shortly and that the money is already available and prepared.
It is not a money problem. The resources are there. But to be able to build the sports city we have to do it on a rustic land and it is mandatory that it have a Declaration of Community Interest (DIC) to convert that rustic land into a sports field. For this, a lot of reports and conditions are needed, such as an environmental impact study. If it is near the airport we need the approval of AENA, if it is near the river of the Hydrographic Confederation. The Roads report is also necessary so that there are no traffic problems, that it has electricity, water and wastewater outlet. What we want is that, once we start it, we do not have any problem with the DIC and in that task we are to choose the most appropriate terrain. Once we have fixed the DIC problem, then shoveling in, getting started and getting the construction work done will be much faster.
The problem of the sports city is having the DIC of the land. Once we have it there is money and it will be done quickly
Could the club’s centenary be reached in 2023 with the new sports city built and the stadium renovated?
At least that they are in motion and that we do not give the image that we are stopped. We cannot start the reform of the stadium with the roof. We now have some very nice changing rooms, but there are still problems with water leaks. First we have to fix the leaks. We cannot have a mixed green and highly decorated area, if, then, there are leaks. It is necessary to solve and reform the stadium inside and out. Although no public has come, this season we have hyper-waterproofed the entire grandstand stand and we have changed the seats and this season we want, at least, to finish the entire lower ring.
“Sepulcre is very happy and Bragarnik is a born worker with enormous capacity”
He acceded to the position on August 13, 2019, replacing Diego García and his stage has been full of successes with promotion and salvation.
He has been president for less than two years and in that time there has been a promotion and a tenure, in addition to the change of ownership of the club. You can’t ask for more …
Emotions have not lacked me. They have not been two years at all anodyne. Last season we achieved promotion and this one we have achieved permanence, which has been like a second promotion. It has been two exciting and beautiful years. I have dedicated many hours to it, but I have also received many satisfactions. Football is very long-suffering and this season I have suffered like never before, but, in the end, we have had great joy that Elche will continue in the First Division.
Bragarnik continues to trust you to be the president. What do you think of those who say that you are in office only as a figurehead and to safeguard Sepulcre’s interests?
I say that I am a privileged collaborator. I spend a lot of time helping Elche in everything I know and can add. If Christian (Bragarnik) wants me to continue adding to the project, I will be there. I try to help, but I know how far I can go. I am not an expert when it comes to signing a right back or conducting an economic study, but at the level of planning and representing the club I am because I am used to interacting with many people.
How is Sepulcre? This permanence also helps …
Pepe (Sepulcre) is very happy. When he transferred the majority share package, he always said that he had done it to the best possible option. He continues to have a good relationship with Christian. Many times they get together and talk about soccer. They have hit it off. He is happy not only because of the sporting successes, but because he left the club to people who know about football.
In addition, with Elche in the First Division it is much easier for the commitments signed with Christian Bragarnik to be fulfilled …
Nobody said it was going to be an easy ride. Pepe did not sell the club to the first typical investment fund that could come to do business, nor to any Arab or Chinese group. He has done it to football people who have a maximum interest in defending Elche and to themselves. They are not billionaire people who put a small part of their money and play it like roulette. Christian and his group are putting their assets at risk. He is a born worker, he is from early in the morning until late at night working in the stadium. Many times he is the one that closes the stadium at night. He takes care of every last detail and knows a lot about everything. It looks like an encyclopedia. He is capable of giving you all kinds of explanations about the First Division, the Second or the Second B. He knows the same about Badajoz as he does about Burgos and Argentine or Thai football. He is a person with enormous capacity.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.