There a few nutty owners and this guy in Spain called Dmitry Pietrman what a classic he was. He had no clue in football and thought he could run the team like Championship Manager. He used to own Alaves and Santander.
Source: Times Online Sunday 17 December 2006
An eccentric millionaire who likes to go shopping for Spanish football clubs has caused untold chaos on and off the field.
This being takeover season in the Premiership, here is a cautionary tale from Spain. It is cast in a way that may be familiar to supporters of Chelsea, Portsmouth or Hearts, because it stars a businessman born behind the Iron Curtain, who grew up under communism and fell in love with capitalism. It has a storyline fans of Manchester United or Aston Villa may recognise: about a man who made millions of dollars in America and thought football clubs might make even more in Europe.
Dimitry Piterman is not Randy Lerner, Malcom Glazer or Roman Abramovich: there is no record of them having posed naked in glossy magazines. He is not Mohamed al-Fayed, though Piterman has been known to speak with a coarse tongue. When he last took a team to Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium he described Madrid’s Brazilians as clowns. Politicians he has battled with have been drunks; the football authorities are struck dead by fear. And these are just the insults we can publish.
Like Lerner, Abramovich, al-Fayed and Glazer, Piterman is an outsider, one of very few non-native Spaniards holding the presidency of a club in La Liga. This being football, the fact of his foreignness is made conspicuous, as is his habit of taking over clubs with which he has no long-term association or affection. But Piterman would be conspicuous anyway. He is notorious around the city of Vitoria, legislative capital of the Basque country. Last weekend, protests against him by fans of Alaves caused their fixture to be delayed for several minutes. Last season, 4,500 of them marched through the city chanting “Dimitry kanpora” It means, in Basque, “Dimitry, get out.” Mention of his name also raises voices in anger in Santander, just up from Vitoria on Spanish northern coast. Three years ago he held the position of club president at Racing Santander, having bought a 25% share in the club and promised to buy enough to take a majority stake. That he never quite managed, but in the short time Piterman held power, he was president and made himself head coach, too. Alaves are the third Spanish club in which he has held a controlling interest. At the first, Palamos, of the regional second division, he also installed himself as head coach.
Piterman has been picking the team, and setting out tactics at Alaves for much of the two and a half years since he bought into a club with a bit of fresh romance about them. In 2001, they reached the Uefa Cup final and, with Liverpool, made it one of the more dramatic and entertaining big-audience matches of the past 10 years, Liverpool winning 5-4 after extra time. Alas, Alaves were relegated from Spanish top flight a couple of seasons later. Then Piterman arrived, and they regained their place in the top flight, but briefly. They went straight back down last May after Piterman went through three coaches in his first six months in charge, elbowing all of them aside to deliver team talks, decide on strategy, and generally act as manager. Piterman is confrontational. When he first decided that to boss Racing successfully he would need to take charge from the bench, he ran into trouble. In Spain, unlike in England, it is obligatory to have trained and sat examinations for some six years to qualify as a senior head coach.
Piterman lacked the certificates. He was not allowed to spend matches in the technical area. So what does he do? He gets himself accredited as a photographer, wears a snappers fluorescent bib, sits on a chair at the end of the Racing bench, names an old pal Chuchi Cos, as official coach, and barks all the orders. And he makes a big play of having found a loophole in the system.
Piterman seems vain. One spin-off of his notoriety at Racing would be an invitation to pose nude for the magazine Interviu. His modesty, if that is the word, was protected by a small blackboard, with tactical diagrams chalked on to it. Granted, the pictures show a man in good shape. Piterman is only 42 and a sportsman. Sport first brought him to Spain. The son of Ukrainian immigrants who moved to California when Dmitry was 13, he earned a place at Berkeley university. He never graduated, the business of developing property having drawn him from his studies, though not from his athletics.
He had talent for the triple jump and was good enough to have a chance of making the 1992 US Olympic team. So he came to Spain to prepare, and to extend his construction empire into the Costa Brava at the same time. He reckons only unusually high standards and small fluctuations of form at the US Olympic trials kept him out of the Barcelona Games.
Why has he been hopping, skipping and jumping from club to club in La Liga? Like all the modern takeover caliphs, Piterman says he believes in the profitability of football clubs and sees in La Liga a far more fluid, dynamic turnover of success than, say, the Premiership. He has a point. In the past six years, 10 different Spanish clubs have finished in the top four of La Liga, in positions to access the vast income of the Champions League.
In the same period, only five different English clubs have qualified for the competition. The downside of the comparison is domestic revenues, divided unequally in Spain, where clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid negotiate their television deals independently. In England, the base principle of collective rights deals means the lowest Premiership club will probably earn more from TV next season than, say, Deportivo La Coruna.
Spanish fabled institutions, such as Barca and Madrid, cannot be bought, because the clubs members and fans elect their presidents. But Piterman saw an opening in the next tier. He argues Alaves could one day win La Liga, and that its president wants to be hands-on and should be permitted to sit pitch side. He likes to play the heretic: Galileo said the earth revolved around the sun and they nearly burnt him, he told El Pais. He likes to cite Bill Gates, too. He champions the American model for organising professional sport to the point of suggesting football leagues might do away with relegation.
That would suit Alaves, who went to Ejido last night only three points above the Segunda A drop zone, not really where a squad containing a smattering of internationals, such as the Australian World Cup striker John Aloisi, should expect to squat. That may be the least of Piterman’s problems. The local government has threatened to suspend subsidies to the club, worth around Ä1m (£670,00)) a season, because of his management. The players have just held a press conference in support of the defender Lluis Carreras, who described a Piterman altercation with him, in a full dressing-room, as humiliating. The president-cum-coach has since suspended Carreras and fined him two weeks wages. Legal action between the two has been threatened.
“Dmitry kanpora!”. At Alavesí Estadio Mendizorroza, it is a chant they will hear more: ìDmitry Out!î But if Piterman goes, it may only be to relocate. He says that he had offers from half a dozen middle-ranking Spanish clubs last time he was without a presidency, a coaching job, and a set of mercenaries. The urge for a takeover can take a man over, again and again.