Protests in Mestalla, Valencia. EFE
Go Peter, go now!

Go Peter, go now!


Valencia's fans feel that Lim has continually stripped the team of all its biggest assets since he took control in 2014

Friday, 17 February 2023, 20:42


It's quite astonishing how one man can have completely different public personas in two different countries.

In Spain, Peter Lim is the most derided man in football; but over in the UK, he's the silent moneyman behind the famous "Class of 92".

Valencia's fans have simply had enough, they have taken to the streets to protest and abandoned the stadium. They feel their club has been run into the ground and the position in the relegation zone suggests their concerns are correct. They've lost six of their last seven La Liga games and Lim has just changed managers for the 16th time.

The team has been continuously stripped of its biggest playing assets since Lim took control in 2014. Last summer, they cashed in on Carlos Soler, who headed to Paris, and Gonçalo Guedes who moved to the Premier League, just like Ferran Torres a couple of years ago.

All the deals are done from afar; Lim hasn't visited the Mestalla Stadium in five years. His business empire is run from Singapore - which further angers Valencia fans.

Over in England, he appears to be equally hands off. He's the majority shareholder of Salford City. This is the club of "The Class of 92" – namely of the former Manchester United stars David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and the Neville brothers. They've fronted the rise of a club that celebrated four promotions in five seasons and won the Papa John's Trophy.

The stars are minority shareholders with 10% each compared to Lim's 40%, yet his involvement is kept well in the background. Lim also uses their star quality for his leisure projects like the Hotel Stock Exchange and Hotel Football. The latter is close to Old Trafford and Manchester United were not happy with the development but it's difficult to argue with club legends.

He doesn't have the same shield at Valencia. When he tried to link the two by appointing business partner Gary Neville as manager, it ended after just a few months with the Englishman recording the worst win ratio in the club's recent history.

There has been a succession of managers at the club since Neville headed back to punditry and his business partnership with Lim. The best was Marcelino, who won the Copa del Rey final and finished fourth twice. His ambitions didn't match those of the club's owner, so he was relieved of his duties. The post has changed hands eight times since, with playing legend Ruben Baraja accepting the task of guiding them out of trouble in what's left of the season.

It appears to be a thinly-veiled attempt to win the fans back. They protested outside the stadium until the 19th minute of the home game with Athletic Bilbao last weekend. They missed their team's single goal, but saw the two Athletic scored to inflict a fourth successive defeat on Valencia.

They're prepared to get behind the team - well, what's left of it. They're adamant that Lim must get out of their club immediately. It is difficult to see what Lim's motivation is for staying put. He's sold off all the key players and there are no assets left. It's not like Salford which is close to his Manchester city centre business developments.

A silent hero in one town, but an absent anti-hero in Spain's third-biggest city, which is third from bottom of La Liga.

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