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Mar 20, 2013

Depor president Lendoiro vows to stay

Deportivo La Coruna president Augusto Cesar Lendoiro has rejected the idea that the beleaguered club can only survive if he leaves.

Depor entered administration under Spain's Ley Concursal in January, and the administrators [AD Cryex] said in court on Monday that a "radical change" was needed in the boardroom if it were to continue as a viable concern having run up debts of €156 million. This was assumed to mean they were telling Lendoiro, who has been at the helm for 25 up-and-down seasons at Riazor, to pack his bags.

But the former politician told a press conference on Tuesday evening that it actually made sense for those with experience of the club's issues to stay on and right the ship.

"They did not say [I must leave] in their statement, it was an interpretation," Lendoiro said. "I believe if anyone can save this it is the current board. Who is going to know this better than us? Deportivo has a future, which will be based on the work that has been done in these years."

The administrators appear to hold a different view, and have frozen the payment of Lendoiro's €400,000-a-year salary. The court statement also drew attention to the long serving president paying himself 1% of the club's annual budget, meaning he had received about €8 million in the last 13 years.

Lendoiro defended this situation, saying there seemed to be an obsession with his salary, and shareholders had agreed his remuneration.

"It is curious that a third of the statement was dedicated to the salary of the board and especially the president," he said. "There is an obsession with this. It seems some people have a need to persecute someone. The salary was legally approved at the AGM in 1999. This year I have only received 5% of the salary. The 1% was a risk [for the club], and I was not stranded."

Depor's debts include significant sums owed to current and past players and coaches, agents, other clubs in Spain and elsewhere, and a long list of local businesses. Its biggest creditors are the Spanish taxman [€94 million] and two Galician banks [€36 million between them].

Lendoiro nonetheless claimed the club could work out its financial situation if the court would just unblock a €14 million payment of TV money which was currently embargoed.

"It is clear we committed many errors, but also did many things right," he said. "I believe this is an important day, because knowing the club is viable has helped calm down everyone with an interest in Deportivo. That viability depends on the €14 million from [TV rights company] Mediapro. The club is hanging on the judge's ruling."

Lendoiro became Depor president in 1987, and was originally very popular with fans as they won a first ever Copa del Rey in 1994-95 and La Liga in 1999-2000. Such success has long disappeared however, and he has more recently been the subject of fan anger - with police charging protesting supporters outside Riazor after a recent 3-0 home defeat to Granada.

Now under their third coach of the current season in Fernando Vazquez, Depor sit bottom of the La Liga table, six points from safety. Friday's 3-1 derby win over Galician neighbours and fellow strugglers Celta Vigo has however raised hopes of an unlikely relegation escape.

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