Global Credit Crunch is Extra Crunchy in Peru

Mounted Po-Po at Alianza Lima's stadium.

The football media in Europe has been blathering on for some time now about how the European credit crunch has affected the financial outlook of clubs, especially when it comes to transfer budgets. The January transfer window looked a lot more like a ghost town with blowing tumbleweeds than the floor of the Chicago mercantile exchange, and clubs that aren’t backed by megarich oil barons will be cash-strapped this summer. How will Octopool manage to overpay for another left winger? Who knows.

Well, lemme tell ya, Europe ain’t got nothin’ on the super crunchy credit crunch in Peru. It’s bad. Real bad. How bad? Jump with me.

Check out the problems Alianza Lima’s got. The “White and Blues” are one of the biggest clubs in Peru. But for starters, the club is bankrupt, waiting for the government to appoint administrators. They can’t afford to pay their electric bill, so the lights have been turned off (Spanish link) at their Matute stadium.

Just play all the games during the day, right? Well, CONMEBOL went and scheduled Alianza’s Copa Libertadores home match against Brazilian giants Vazco da Gama for 8 p.m local time yesterday. Club directors scrambled to try to rent out the national stadium to host the match, but although they could present the match gate receipts as collateral for the rental fee, the electric bill has to be paid separately. So they found (who knows where) some generators to power the stadium lights at the Matute.

It gets worse. The first team usually stays at a hotel the night before a match like this, but the club can’t afford to book a hotel for the team. Officials were hoping they could use some of the gate receipts to cover this expense as well. So what about those gate receipts? Well, in the midst of box office sales at the stadium, officials from Sunat (Peru’s IRS) showed up to confiscate them (Span link). Alianza Lima owes millions (in Peruvian money) in back taxes. The tax men were not permitted entry into the front office, so they were forced to leave empty-handed, but a club official issued a statement that an embargo claim had been made against the precious gate receipts.

The Peruvian Groundskeeper Willy is on strike.

Did I mention the pitch yet? Alianza Lima can’t pay to maintain the stadium’s grass anymore, so there’s huge yellow patches everywhere (Span link) and general conditions are embarrassing. This is apparently also a problem for rival Universitario’s Monumental stadium, where lack of funding for lawn maintenance, combined with a recent Paul McCartney concert, have conspired to leave the pitch in tatters.

Alianza Lima lost the match against Vazco da Gama and got knocked out of the Copa Libertadores, so that’s probably one less headache for the bean counters at the club. Players blamed the club’s financial issues for creating distractions and putting them under undue stress during the week. I think that’s code for “I went to cash my paycheck and it bounced, now what the hell do I do? I got a boat payment due Friday”, but I couldn’t find any reports about payroll issues. Players have publicly committed to stay on until August, but I think you’ll be seeing a mass exodus soon, not only as players look for clubs that can afford to pay them, but also as the club tries to raise capital by selling off assets.

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