No candidate escapes in Valencia the question about how he will force Peter Lim to finish the new Mestalla, nor in Zaragoza can hide their opinion on the remodeling of La Romareda. In fact, from Zaragoza the candidate for mayor of the Popular Party, Natalia Chueca, believes that "the stadium can account for 40% of the vote on 28-M". Two checks on the electoral board of large cities where the polls predict tight results.

In Valencia, the urban operation of the new Mestalla has been in the political arena for two years and is conceived by the fans as the best pressure tool to force Peter Lim to sell the club. Thousands of voters in a city whose mayoralty was decided in 2019 by 255 votes.

In 2005, the former mayor Rita Barberá signed an agreement with Valencia by which she would leave Mestalla, whose extension had been declared illegal by the Supreme, to move to a new and modern stadium on Avenida de las Cortes. The consistory reclassified and sold a sports floor and, to finance the operation, converted the land of the centenary Mestalla into residential and tertiary. Thus, the club could pay with its sale the new house and even clean up its accounts. At the time of the brick boom, that was branded by PSOE, then in opposition, as "pelotazo". But the house of cards collapsed in 2009 when work stopped. From then until the summer of 2022, the club was unable to find financing and the urban planning tool designed by the PP in its majority years, the Strategic Territorial Action (ATE), was extinguished by the Government of Ximo Puig, denounced in court by Lim. No political formation raised its voice and only Compromís asked that, In order not to harm the club, new agreements will be negotiated with the same urban benefits.

However, the PSOE, with the deputy mayor and councilor of Urbanism, Sandra Gómez, at the head, has pressed Lim conditioning the sale of the land to the commitment of the obligations of the city. Mayor Joan Ribó did not join this initial position, who even announced the date of resumption of the works. A decision provoked by the desire to see the stadium and Valencia as the venue for the possible 2030 World Cup. If the PSOE has been very clear in its position of not negotiating with Lim, the candidates, regional and local, of PP, Cs, Vox and Podemos, have not expressed a clear position. The two parties that could govern on May 29, PP and Vox, have remained neutral and accused Gómez of "manipulating" Valencia for electoral purposes.

Interior of the latest project of the New Mestalla

Also in Zaragoza the Popular Party is at war with the PSOE for La Romareda. The renovation project, the fifth in 20 years, presented on May 12 has a cost of more than 140 million euros and will be financed, in principle, by the ownership of the club. This initiative has the push of the PP, which governs in the city, but the PSOE, which does so in the Community of Aragon, does not share its enthusiasm. "Politics and football do not mix well and less in elections. The projects are better unanimously," Lola Ranera, socialist candidate for mayor, tells ELMUNDO.

The pitch of La Romareda overflows the city limits. It should not be forgotten that Zaragoza, with its almost 670,000 inhabitants, represents half of the population of Aragon (1.3 million). "The Nueva Romareda will be the reference stadium of all Aragon," explains to this newspaper, Natalia Chueca, popular candidate for mayor of Zaragoza.

The presentation of the renovation project coincided with the beginning of the electoral campaign and the end of the deadline to present the host candidacies for the 2030 World Cup, something that has not liked in the PSOE.

Latest project of the New Romareda.

The Socialists have presented three requirements to the project. However, it worries more, as its partners in the Government have announced, among which are Podemos and the Chunta Aragonesista, if they will appeal judicially. Although the PSOE candidate for mayor denies it.

Other battles

The problem in Spain is that most of the fields of the First Division teams, 12 out of 20, are public. So, any intervention needs an agreement between the property and, generally, the City Council. The political forces usually agree to provide the necessary elements (low fees or transfer of public land, among others) for the local club to prosper. But, as in Valencia and Zaragoza, it does not always happen.

Moreover, sometimes conflicting interests elevate issues to justice. Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna were acquitted for "alleged irregular public aid" in various actions concerning the stadiums. Although, the normal thing is that everything remains in a dialectical war with more partisan interests than anything else.

In Vigo, Celta and Abel Caballero are on the verge of the slow renovation of the stadium that is in charge of the City Council. A necessary reform so that it can be chosen to host the 2030 World Cup, a great objective of most Spanish clubs and cities, for the return that this would mean to the city. Fight, by the way, that has also been taken to the electoral arena and that is evidenced in the words of the BNG in which it qualifies, due to delays and improvisations, as a "bad copy of the Sagrada Familia" instead of the "Guggenheim of football" as Caballero promised.

Recreation of the New Romareda

However, there are more cases of institutional support than partisan warfare around the home team. The most paradigmatic case is how the City Council of Huelva, with the support of all political forces, saved Recreativo by rescuing it from an owner who had abandoned the club. It contributed 25 million from the public coffers of which it will only be able to recover 12, if they manage to re-privatize it. In this campaign, the Popular Party of the town figures in two councilors the influence of the Recre issue at the polls. "Joining your political brand to another that raises passions is pure gold," says Toni Aira, professor of Political Communication at Pompeu Fabra University- Barcelona School of Management.

"Football is the most important of the least important thing," Jorge Valdano often says. In these elections it has become much more relevant in many places because, it is not only about budgets and needs, it is also about emotions, which is what moves the most in this political period. "Politics has been more about creating moods than opinions for years," concludes the professor of Political Communication.

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