Reborn Magallanes hopes to become new model for Chilean soccer
By Javier Martin
Santiago, Jan 27 (EFE).- Winning three titles in a year is a feat for any soccer club, doing that and returning to the top-flight after an absence of 36 years while rewriting the operating manual for football in Chile is a colossal achievement.
That is the story of the last four years at Club Deportivo Magallanes, a founder of the Chilean first division fallen on hard times after being relegated in 1986.
Last weekend, Magallanes hoisted their first-ever Chilean Super Cup, beating powerhouse Colo Colo, the reigning top-flight champions, after winning promotion and besting Union Español in the Copa de Chile final.
In practical terms, promotion will have the biggest impact on the club’s bottom line, as they will see their earnings from broadcast rights surge from $2.4 million to $6.1 million a season.
But the cup triumph comes with a ticket to the Copa Libertadores, which means more than $400,000 in guaranteed revenue and some $500,000 in bonuses depending on how far Magallanes progresses in the tournament.
The architect of rebirth is club president Cristian Ogalde, an agent whose roster of clients has included figures such as Chilean international goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, formerly with FC Barcelona and now playing for Real Betis.
Influenced by the time he spent as a youth at Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, Ogalde has sought to remodel Magallanes along European lines.
In modern elite football, the reserve squad is regarded as an investment, while Chilean clubs see it as a cost to be minimized in favor of the lucrative business of selling players.
Directors in Chile give little thought to the money to be made from merchandising or renting out stadiums for concerts and other events.
Ogalde described his own approach to EFE during a conservation at the Magallanes ground in the Santiago suburb of San Bernardo.
“Like one works in Europe, where one doesn’t work on a team, but rather the concept of the club, more globally and more in the medium and long term,” he said.
He recounted the difficulty he faced in persuading investors to come up with more than $4 million to buy Magallanes, which was then drowning in red ink, and later to convince them of the wisdom of his idea to field a team of academy players combined with veterans in the twilight of their career.
As coach, Ogalde settled on retiring Magallanes player Nicolas Nuñez, a friend of more than two decades.
“We understood each other perfectly regarding the philosophy of play we wanted to impose,” Ogalde said of his manager. “We made the best decisions respecting the selection of players.”
Nuñez, a fan of the style of play of teams such as FC Barcelona and Manchester City, was happy to get the opportunity to put his ideas into practice.
“I believe we have gotten results sooner than expected in terms of the budget,” the coach said. “In two years we have seen reflected, above all, the growth of young players.”
Winger Manuel Vicuña enthused about the family feeling at Magallanes, which extends to supporters.
“All the time I have been here I’ve seen the same fans and that is also beautiful because after each match, one can talk to them or they can talk to the president, to the coach,” he said. EFE jm/dr