Valencia president Anil Murthy has maintained the Spanish LaLiga football club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding what he described as positive meetings with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the mothballed Nuevo Mestalla project.

A Valencia delegation led by Murthy (left of picture) met with Valencia City Council yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss the stadium project. Construction work on the Nuevo Mestalla was suspended in February 2009 and the venue has since become one of the world’s most notorious stadium projects.

Murthy presented revised plans to a Council delegation led by Ribó (right of picture), with the club seeking to recommence work on the stadium in order to ensure it retains the advantages granted to it under an ATE construction licence granted in 2012.

Club officials yesterday detailed, according to Spanish newspaper Marca, plans for a stadium capacity between 43,000 to 46,000, expandable to 60,000. The stadium would have a second ring dedicated almost exclusively to leisure and restaurant offerings, while the roof will be fitted with solar panels in an effort to drive sustainability.

Commenting on the plans, Ribó said: “Initially it is proposed for a capacity comparable to that which the (Mestalla) stadium currently has (48,500), but expandable to 62,000 spectators. But I think this is not the fundamental element.

“The fundamental element is the novelty of this second ring that has seemed to me to be a remarkable element that is not in many football stadia. They propose a roof that is made of photovoltaic panels, which is an example at that level that I want to value.”

However, news on the proposed capacity drew a critical response from Deputy Mayor, Sandra Gómez, who said: “The new stadium cannot be smaller than the current Mestalla. If the club wants to maintain the urban advantages (under the ATE), it will have to comply with what has been agreed to the full and that happens by not making a low-cost stadium.”

Ribó also spelled out a revised timeline for the stadium project. “They have assured us that they have guarantees with the bank where they have the debt, which is now Caixabank,” he said, according to the Las Provincias newspaper.

“They have presented us with a calendar where in June 2022 the works of the sports centre would begin, in October 2022 the start of the works of the stadium and in August 2024 the inauguration of the new Mestalla. The calendar seems realistic and possible, but if it is not met, they will listen to us.”

Valencia in December revealed plans to use funds from LaLiga’s new strategic venture with global investment fund CVC Capital Partners to help finance the construction of its new stadium. Valencia is set to receive approximately €120.7m (£100.4m/$136.9m) from LaLiga as part of the LaLiga Impulso venture, €80m of which is set to head to the stadium project.

The club will now need to present all documentation for the revised project to the City Council and Generalitat Valenciana. Speaking following yesterday’s meeting, Murthy said: “The meeting has been very positive. After the two meetings with the Generalitat, today we have taken an important step by formally presenting the project we have to the important institution, which is the City Council.”

Regarding when work could recommence on the stadium, he added: “As soon as possible, we have agreed with the Mayor. After presenting the project to the Generalitat and the City Council, we are working on the formal part, which is in writing, and we are going to present everything that is necessary in writing.

“Nobody talks about a low-cost stadium. It’s going to be a stadium that’s going to give a lot of people a lot of hope and it’s going to mean a lot of investment in the city. It’s going to be something different and something attractive.”

FacePhi partnership

In other news, Valencia has strengthened its relationship with biometrics company FacePhi. The club now becomes a global ambassador for FacePhi’s identity verification technology, promoting the innovative biometric access solutions with other sports entities it has a relationship with, at national and international level.

The strategic alliance has been promoted since June, after the company was selected in the VCF Innovation Hub, within the fan engagement category, through its project to implement a biometric system for access to the stadium; a pioneering initiative in Spain that granted FacePhi entrance to the sports events industry.

FacePhi now also becomes a sponsor of Valencia and a member of the VCF Business Club. Murthy said: “Since we started with the VCF Innovation Hub, we have been signing agreements with many technology startups. Technology is going to play a very important role and all these companies are going to work with us to improve the experience of the fans in the new stadium.”

Javier Mira, CEO and president of FacePhi, added: “Thanks to this collaboration with Valencia CF, our technology will be able to be present in any sports entity in the world, beyond the scope of Spanish football teams.

“The signing of this agreement represents an excellent opportunity to strengthen our position within the sports events industry, hand in hand with one of the great Spanish football teams, making it clear that the application of our solutions improves the user experience in any industry, even that of major sporting events.”

Image: Valencia CF