Vallecas embraces its stadium in the face of the threat of building a new one elsewhere | Soccer | Sports

Neither the cold nor the rain managed to boycott a human chain intertwined by the Rayo Vallecano fans, who embrace their old stadium in Vallecas four hours before their team faces Cádiz. The storm of sleet and hail that would break out later forced the match to be suspended with half an hour left before its conclusion. Before, nothing could undo the circle of holding hands of Vallecan fathers, mothers, grandparents and youth that surrounded the premises in its adjacent streets. From Albufera Avenue and Payaso Fofó, Teniente Muñoz Díaz and Arroyo del Olivar streets, a cry of resistance emanated: “They will not move us.” The initiative scheduled at 12:30 this Saturday and the proclamation described the feeling of a fan and a neighborhood opposed to the change of headquarters that the club’s largest shareholder, Raúl Martín Presa, intends, with the help of the Community of Madrid, owner of the venue that the club operates in the form of a concession in exchange for around 90,000 euros per year.

“This is part of my life, the atmosphere of the bars at the games, the benefit to the merchants, everything that means that the stadium is here cannot be taken away from us. I live in the expansion of Vallecas and if they take it to Valdecarros (one of the areas in which it is speculated that the new location may be) it will catch me next door, but I want to continue here,” defends Noelia, who has attended the call accompanied of his two daughters. In the background emerges the chant that has been echoing in Vallecas for years: “Presa, go now.” “For bars and businesses it would be a shame if they took away the stadium. Business would drop a lot,” warns the owner of a brewery near the stadium who prefers anonymity.

These were the statements of the regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso in an interview in the newspaper As those that activated the alarms in the neighborhood and among the Rayista followers until leading to this first major demonstration to defend that the umbilical cord that fuses the club and the stadium with the social, sentimental and economic fabric of Vallecas is not destroyed. “We are talking to the club to look for a new location, because it is increasingly unsustainable for them to continue in Vallecas. The club needs a stadium adapted to the current reality. They tell us from Rayo that they have already seen a series of lands and we will soon enter into negotiations. The idea is to give up land and for them to pay for the new stadium,” Díaz Ayuso announced.

Rayo Vallecano fans on Payaso Fofó street.JUAN BARBOSA

In this first notice, there was even a risk that the entity could relocate outside the district of Vallecas. The commotion was enormous because of how heartbreaking it was for Rayo fans and for the Vallecanos that the operation threatened to extinguish their pride in boasting of being the only Spanish professional soccer club anchored in the heart of a working-class neighborhood. Paco runs a scarf stall on Albufera Avenue with 40 years of history and the idea overwhelms him. “First there were my parents and now I, if they take away the stadium from here, I don’t know what can happen to us,” he comments while placing the genre with delicacy and order.

Díaz Ayuso’s words provoked a note from the federation of Rayista clubs showing their unconditional opposition to the change of residence that Presa intends. “Our neighborhood could be another working-class neighborhood of those that populate the outskirts of Madrid, but if something differentiates Vallecas, it is precisely its identity, built over generations and which today is still very present in the collective ideology of the neighborhood. This popular feeling is reflected in the Rayista fans, who go every fifteen days to their stadium on Avenida de la Albufera near Portazgo, in the heart of Puente de Vallecas,” read the statement from the supporters’ club, which also They have appealed to the collection of signatures under the hashtag #OurBarrioOurEstadio. “They want to rip out our DNA,” rebels Gelo, from the franjirrojas platform of peñas.

This newspaper has contacted the Community of Madrid and was referred to an interview given to Europa Press by the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports, Mariano de Paco, in which the message of relocating the stadium outside of Vallecas has been blurred “If the question is whether the Community of Madrid wants the Rayo stadium to be in Vallecas, of course, the Community wants the Rayo stadium to be in Vallecas,” De Paco rectified. Gelo suspects that the change of course of the Díaz Ayuso government may respond to a communication strategy. “First they create the alarmism that the club can go to play outside of Vallecas and then they assure that it will not move from the district in order to silence the proposals if they take it to some land that is inside, but we do not want the stadium to move from your current location. What needs to be done is to remodel it and use the approved budget items on it. If you set cheap prices so that the stadium is filled and you let it fall, and you don’t take care of it, you are creating the alibi to say that you need a new stadium with more capacity. Everything points to a speculative movement through which the club revalues ​​itself in case Martín Presa wants to sell it in the future,” reflects Gelo.

Rayo Vallecano fans surround the Vallecas stadium on Avenida de la Albufera.
Rayo Vallecano fans surround the Vallecas stadium on Avenida de la Albufera.JUAN BARBOSA

This newspaper also wanted to contact the club’s owner, among other questions, to ask if the neglect suffered by the stadium’s care, which has even caused complaints in LaLiga from several clubs, has been deliberate. Martín Presa says he does not want to talk about non-sporting matters until the team achieves salvation and refers to an interview that he gave to Onda Madrid in which he explained his project, very far from the feelings of his fans and of Vallecas. Martín Presa: “El Rayo does not have the capacity to finance a reform, perhaps a new stadium. Vallecas is an endearing stadium, but it became obsolete several years ago. Has a reduced capacity for the social mass that is continuously growing, we are filling it in all parties. We should be in at least 10,000 more locations to be able to grow and have locations for sale.” The club highlights that the entire process is still in an embryonic phase.

“The stadium is the emblem of a neighborhood that now has the pride and privilege of having a club in the First Division. The current one can be remodeled. Villarreal did it despite the fact that the stadium was also trapped in the city. For example, you can build a stand above the background where the Bukaneros are,” explains Antonio Mora, president of the federation of Rayista clubs.

Around one in the afternoon, the organizers of the demonstration congratulated themselves because the chain had managed to surround the stadium. They interpret it as a victory in a battle in which feelings are settled against the mere cold business of modern football. Already in the stadium, the “They will not move us” thunders again. And at the end of the game, in the Nueva Numancia market, a chirigota recites: “They say that, 100 years ago it was founded, that a neighborhood team came true from a children’s dream/They say that without a soul it was without equipment, and now the stripe of a Lightning Bolt on our chest we all Vallekans wear.”

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