José Castro: “Win a league? My feet are on the ground”


LThe last time MARCA sat with him president of Sevilla no one could erase the smile from his face. He proudly displayed the sixth Europa League, a trophy that has made the Andalusian club great. Immense. So much so that his alignment with the leaders of European football in against the Super League They have strengthened the important role of Sevilla in the current football scene. Despite this, Jose castro, or rather Pepe Castro, stands out when it comes to selling what he is not. His ambition – the one that the club promulgates – is infinite. However, he wants to emphasize in a new conversation with this newspaper that the fight for titles like LaLiga need a journey, to continue climbing steps. It is useless to sell illusions to come face to face with the still stark reality.

Pepe Castro: “LaLiga? I have my feet on the ground”
Balance of the sports year.
I think it has been a very good season. Perhaps there have been moments that could have been extraordinary, moments where it seemed that we could fight for LaLiga, we could also reach the Cup final, but we managed that minute and a half final very badly. There have been moments where luck or success has not accompanied us and we will have to learn from it, such as against Athletic or Real Madrid in the last few days. That success has been lacking. All of this is a learning process. When you lose several games in the last minutes it is not by chance. It is something that must be improved and the foundations must be laid so that this does not happen, also knowing how fickle football is. In general, I think the season has been very good. Not in vain, we have taken 15 points from the fifth, with moments of more than 20. We have also been five days before classified for the Champions League. However, we want more and we have to keep going for more.
Do you have the feeling of being closer to the big three than to the pursuers?
I think so. What happens is that you cannot trust yourself. Getting there is difficult and staying a lot longer. Maintain and improve ourselves at the same time because we are ambitious. We feel that we are closer because we have been in the Champions League for two years in a row. You have to continue with the humility necessary to be five or six in a row in the Champions League to be able to make a qualitative, economic-sporting leap, to be able to perhaps qualify for greater goals. We are in that process.
Did the dream of winning the title take away your sleep?
I have my feet on the ground. It is true that there was a moment when it seemed that we could. Things are not by chance or chance, but they need a process. We have a clear foundation. We cannot get out of them to achieve that status, to be able to opt for greater things with a natural process. Being up there with solvency, with weight, to be able to do something important.
The injection of the Champions in this pandemic year will be even more important, right?
It is always important. I base on those five or six years the possibility of growth of the entity. We are in a different, tough and complicated situation. We are going to have a significant deficit, not just us. There are no subscriptions, there is no ticketing, marketing has collapsed … Sevilla’s natural income that this year will not be there. Hopefully everything continues to flow with the topic of the vaccine and we can have a public soon.
One way to balance the accounts is transfer income.
In addition to being one of the clubs with the most ambitious transfers last year, we did not make any important sales although we had options. I don’t know what will happen in this market but we don’t have enough money, no. But it is true that we have endured better than others thanks to the boom in previous years due to the good management carried out. I don’t know how the market is going to go. We will not change our way of proceeding to sell if we deem it appropriate. It is our system and we are not going to change it. I think we have been close to important goals after not selling last summer, although this is not synonymous with success. I anticipate that it is going to be a difficult summer. That does not mean anything. The market will dictate, as always.
Without sales, Sevilla will not be able to buy either.
We are talking about a complicated market in a generalized way. We speak of loss in all generalized clubs. And we are talking about an internal economic regime of LaLiga, which will be a study to take into account so that all clubs can lower that amount a bit so that we can continue to operate until everything works again.
This bad economic situation is the basis for the creation of the so-called Super League. Was it hard to make the decision to go against it?
Look. At the European club meeting in Madrid last Thursday, where I served as LaLiga spokesperson, one of the speakers sarcastically said that 12 of the 15 clubs that wanted the Super League were doing poorly financially. What a coincidence. When the clubs are bad economically it is that they have had bad management. On this issue of the Super League, where we were categorically opposed from the beginning, we have been very clear. You cannot make a League for a few and that we were one of those called to be able to enter that Super League. The truth is that it is our way of being, our way of feeling. Everything that Sevilla has has been achieved by dint of race, work, perseverance, trying to achieve everything. I put the goal in the sky. And with work we get as far as we can. In short, the Super League is outrageous. A few days ago Villarreal won the Europa League. Huge that merit. A club that has no more than 20 years in the elite. He has known how to climb to be there. How are we going to clip our wings to overcoming? The number one point of sport is improvement. What end would sport have?
If the Super League had seen the light 15 years ago, what would Sevilla be like?
It’s a barbarity. It’s like a friends club. All club owners have sought to make a league with each other. How is a club going to enter by decree-law? That must be earned every year. It cannot be a closed circle. All the European clubs say it, UEFA, FIFA …
What did it mean that the UEFA president mentioned it in his speech?
We have a very good relationship with Aleksander Ceferin. We offer to help you in everything. We speak the same language. We are clear about the same thing, the direction in which football should go. Sevilla have weight in UEFA, good relations in UEFA. Nobody has given UEFA more affection than us. Nobody has as many titles as we do. That affection, the president of UEFA, with the Europa League, which is one of his tournaments, feels it, sees it and sees how the club does not stop growing, in part, due to the income from European competitions. Those big clubs that want to go to the Super League are also bigger because of what they have entered in these competitions.
How would you view the possible sanction?
Look, Alberto, I’m not the one who has to dictate the sanction. There is a UEFA committee that will make a decision. What I do say is that in UEFA we all have to be equal for the good and for the bad.
Changing the third, how calm is he with so much bench movement among the greats?
There is a good coach here but he is ours. He is our coach and we are extremely happy with him. He knows what happened when he arrived and the effort we made with the decision to bring him. He has given us a title, a second consecutive year in the Champions League … We are happy with him and he with us. He is happy in Seville, he transmits to me that it is better to work in Seville, with more clarity and freedom, he will not find it anywhere. I have seen Julen in Seville for many years. He knows about ambition and growth.
They say that Julen squeezes, has he already asked for something?
Julen is very demanding and a leader in the dressing room. A guy who seems to have been born here: ambitious, he wants to achieve everything and go to the maximum. And in the third, where I stay, it is in his capacity. He is showing it and spilling it in the Sánchez-Pizjuán. Of course he makes mistakes, like everyone else. The important thing is that the mistakes are much smaller than the hits.
How close is Jesús Navas to signing his renewal?
Jesús is a Sevilla legend. I see it impossible that Jesus does not sign with us. We are negotiating. We will surely come to an agreement. Jesus for us is not just a footballer, he is a legend. At my express request, we named the Ciudad Deportiva stadium after him. We have a special affection for him. He is a different boy.
How is the matter of the public entrance?
Very complicated. We have had two meetings about it but it is very difficult. What are you doing now? A traditional subscription, for tickets, half and half. We do not know what to do. Nobody gives you any security. We are still in May. Until June 24 we can make a decision. Hopefully we have some idea via the League or via CSD, which is who decides. We hope and wish that, according to what our politicians say, 75-80% of the population is vaccinated. I calculate that when we start LaLiga, on August 15, we can have at least 50% of the public. It would be outrageous otherwise. Why can there be so many people crowded on an AVE and not in football? And in a stadium we have the facility to comply with sanitary regulations. This needs to be fixed and fixed now.
Speaking of the shareholding map, how calm or uneasy is the president?
I think without a doubt stability is absolutely essential for the development of the entity. We made an eight-year pact for the good of the entity first and then for the good of all the shareholders, of all. And that is in force. It is being carried out by both parties, in addition to the Carrión family. We are all on the same line of stability and growth. Things are being done well. It is a pact that we have to fulfill. That perhaps none of us wanted, but that it was necessary for Sevilla. A strong and hard pact was made so that no one can get out of it and that is what is happening.
Have you ever regretted letting in foreign capital?
Are moments. The only thing I can say is that I have been president for eight or nine years and the results are there, they are not invented. Management is not invented. Club growth is not invented. The relationships of this president and the club in general are not invented. Things are going well. If someone tries to modify what is going well, it is because they do not want the best for the club. This is an issue, the truth … which are moments. At the time we did it because we believed it was the best for the stability of the entity.
A message for the sevillistas.
We are very excited about the return of the fans. The need for the fans to return to the stadium is palpable in the street. I am optimistic by nature and I must be more optimistic about the pandemic. I am very sorry that the Sevilla fans were not able to enjoy such a good season on television, which is not at all like experiencing it in their stadium. That is ours, it is what we feel and what we like. I think we all have that need. It is a subject that must end now. On a day like Athletic’s, in need of victory, with the fans by our side … You will tell me. Is not the same.
And with that optimism by nature, what is Sevilla’s next big success?
I’m going to heaven to ask for everything, but I’m consistent. Things do not come suddenly or by luck. They are a natural evolution. I ask for another season in the Champions League, another being up there fighting and putting the base camp in the Champions to continue growing. Being economically powerful, I am sure that in this way we will be more powerful in sport, more with the number one in terms of signings as we have.
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