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Sunday, 03 February 2013 00:20

Opinion: Twenty-four hours in the life of a Sporting meltdown

Boardroom chaos at the Alvalade

godinho-lopes-20110328.jpgRecently it seemed that Sporting were turning the corner. A late victory over Paços de Ferreira and an away win against Ollhanense was followed up by a squeaky 1-0 victory against Beira-Mar. Then a draw against Vitória Guimaraes wasn’t too bad. The Lions appeared to be on the right path. Points on the board and Jesualdo’s new reign seemingly going in the required direction. Marius Niculae’s impending return to the club was greeted more warmly than not.
Then on Thursday things began to crumble. Twenty-four hours later it was ten times worse.
Firstly at a session being headed by Daniel Sampaio to clarify matters regarding the General Assembly next week, the speakers were pelted with eggs and the live feed by internet was cut. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW63mYkJ6kQ
Later in an impassioned plea, a Sporting fan José Manuel Nobre broke down crying after stating he thought it was already too late for Sporting. 
Continuing throughout the day the Niculae transfer was breaking down as he had already played for two clubs this season. If that wasn’t bad enough, the assumed deal for Kléber came to an abrupt end when no agreement on financial terms could be reached. 
Furious club president Godinho Lopes blamed the political in-fighting for scuppering the Kléber deal. He went to court to try to stop the General Assembly going ahead next week. His application for an injunction was not accepted and it will go ahead as planned. 
Later Lopes emerged with what could only be described as a one of the most spectacular post transfer window press conferences ever given. There was so much I will only give pointers here as it was far too long to give you all the details.
In no particular order
1. Lopes said Izmailov was swapped because of lack of productivity and Sporting would get a proven international player in return.
2. He stated that there was a lack of respect from referees when they came to the Alvalade stadium.
3. Lopes claims he was told by several people connected to Benfica that Luís Filipe Viera wanted to speak to him about swapping Insúa in return for Nolito and Kardec. He said that Benfica had pressurised him into selling Insúa.  
4. The Kleber situation still doesn’t sit well. He was apparently going to Sporting on a five-year deal, until the third-party holders of a 20% stake rang yesterday about the contract. Godinho Lopes said that he had spoken to them on 2 January to have everything sorted for yesterday. Contrary to this, all the newspapers were reporting that Kléber was only being loaned to Sporting until the end of the season.
5. He said that a deal had been sealed with Dinamo Kiev to sell Ricky Van Wolfswinkel for twice what they paid (€10.8m) with also the promise of two loan players until the end of the season (Milevsky and Marcos Rúben).  He conveniently failed to mention the fact that Sporting only retain 35% of Wolfswinkel’s contract. 
6. He promised Niculae that he would contact him again and speak at the end of the season. (I doubt he’ll last until then)
There was more but it’s a little bit mundane compared to the six comments above. 
Benfica replied to Godinho’s accusations by saying that they were complete lies, stating “once a liar, always a liar.”
The saga continues... what will come next? 
To feel sorry for Sporting fans is an understatement as it seems washing their dirty clothes in public is becoming a daily occurrence.
The General Assembly is set for 9 February, outdoors in February weather, and on the same day as the ‘Carnival’ which is strangely apt to say the least.
by Karl Donnelly
Comments (7)
Too big to fail?
7 Wednesday, 06 February 2013 17:31
As I mentioned in a comment about Pacos and how the smaller teams are leaving Sporting behind, It beggars belief that a club with 300 Million Euros Worth of debt, and a revenue stream of probably 25 Million( if their lucky) - can still try to spend their way out of trouble. That's a full 1200% debt to income ratio that makes Greece look thrifty by comparison. If Sporting don't get back to basics and try developing talent at the Alchocete academy like they used too, then they will be doomed. This current board are head less chickens, who haven't got a clue what their doing. Get a financially astute President in who can reign in the finances an if that means mid table status for a while, so be it. Teams like Guimaraes, Braga and Maritimo
enjoy a regular presence in the top league without spending fortunes. The Lions will have to adopt a different more frugal approach to the game if their not to go the way of Campomaiorense, Farense and Boavista.
6 Tuesday, 05 February 2013 17:40
I wrote the following about Sporting back on December of '10.
It was part of a fan's Christmas wish list.

Sporting: This should be an easy one, but these fans are a bit hard headed. Before wishing for a better squad, maybe it would be better to wish, hope and pray for a change at the top. President Bettencourt has done nothing but run the club into the ground. Where all the money has gone, begs to be asked. Maybe even more importantly, the fans should be wishing that the foolishness of going to turf instead of grass is forgotten.

What has changed?
You can replaced Bettencourt with Godinho, and the answer would be nothing.
5 Monday, 04 February 2013 22:20
not much more can be said of godinho lopes!
a few glimpses of hope and tonnes of garbage piled on top...
4 Monday, 04 February 2013 13:21
Wow! It almost makes me feel sorry for the Maca Podres.
I'm surprised he didn't claim to try to bring back Cristiano.
3 Sunday, 03 February 2013 18:06
I think the most absurd thing to flow out of GL's mouth was to blame Daniel Sampaio for SCP's transfer window failings.

He actually said with a straight face that the press conference to clarify the upcoming General Assembly--an event that has been in the works for weeks and is the result of a completely legitimate process initiated by petition of club members, NOT the Board--was responsible for failing to "sign" Kleber AND for failing to sell Ricky to Dinamo Kiev. (No mention of whether Mr. Sampaio was also responsible for posting news of Niculae's signing on the SCP website before it was determined whether he was eligible to play for a third team this season...)

Even if we could accept GL's stories (for example, why would Dinamo care about any instability at SCP, so long as they got their player?) how would it explain the fact that this leadership has failed to address the striker position for the last two seasons?! That they were actually contemplating selling Ricky without having a healthy (i.e., not Kleber) or eligible (i.e., not Niculae) alternative already secured is truly terrifying.

February 9th should be quite the spectacle.
2 Sunday, 03 February 2013 15:53
Could Sporting hire Porto's "Vice President" to be Sporting's next President or is that not possible in Portuguese futbol because to the "club" structure?

It seems Porto have the financial side mastered (maybe it's easier with Champions League money) and excellent talent evaluation (particularly their South American ties). Why not hire a top man from Porto and tap into that knowledge?
New low
1 Sunday, 03 February 2013 02:01
Great response by Benfica. Keep it short and simple quote “once a liar always a liar” un-quote. With Godinho Lopes at the helm Sporting have embarked on a period of buying foreign talent and in turn have changed to a new direction (a downward spiral). The season is already over for Sporting, they are out of contention for the league and are out of every cup that they entered so they may as well play the youngsters, let them get experience and set them up for next season. The Sporting academy has produced some world class players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Queresma, Figo, Simao and Nani. When will Sporting elections be re-held? You can only assume that Godinho Lopes will be out once they are re-held and with new leadership there is hope for a new direction. Hopefully they can limit their foreign signings and re-connect with the Portuguese youth but a lot will depend on if the Sporting fans can accept a few years of mid table finishes to help rebuild and shore up the finances. Sporting have great potential to get back to the top but sadly with bad management they also have great potential to go the way of Boavista or Rangers in Scotland. Time will tell I guess.

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