Valencia’s proposed Nou Mestalla stadium has remained untouched since 2009.
The turn of the century was a great time for Valencia CF. Under Rafael Benítez, the club was domestically and continentally competitive for the first time in decades.
The Nou Mestalla – a new 80,000-seater stadium – was planned to capitalise on this success. But after initial work ground to a halt, the half-built stadium remains dormant.
We look at what went wrong with the stadium’s construction and ask what will become of it should the club drop from Spain’s top flight.
Valencia in the early 2000s – a period of great success for the club
The early 2000s represented a period of great success for Valencia. Under the guidance of Rafael Benítez, the club won the 2001-02 La Liga title – its first since 1971. Benítez would guide Valencia to yet another La Liga title in the 2003-04 season.
The club added the 2004 UEFA Cup to its honours list before Benítez left for Liverpool that summer. This is the club’s only success in this competition and was their first major European honour since winning the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1980.
Naturally, the club’s board wanted to capitalise on this success. The club was now competing with Spanish footballing giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, so it was only right that it should have a stadium to rival the Nou Camp and the Bernabéu.
Former president Juan Soler unveiled plans for a new 80,000-seater stadium in 2006, with the club aiming to upgrade from the 49,430-capacity Mestalla – the club’s home since 1923.
Nou Mestalla – the original plans for the new stadium
Things started positively: ground broke on what was supposed to be one of the best stadiums in Europe in 2007. The club’s aim was to host the 2011 UEFA Champions League final in their new stadium, showcasing it in the biggest game in European club football.
However, football fans will remember that the 2011 final between Barcelona and Manchester United took place at Wembley Stadium in London.
This was because Spain entered a recession in 2008 during the world financial crisis. The recession left Valencia with limited funds, which in turn halted construction. The partially built Nou Mestalla now casts its shadow over the city.
The future – what’s next for Valencia
The Valencia of today is a club in turmoil, a shadow of its former self. With eight league games remaining this season, the club lies 18th, dangerously close to relegation.
Current owner Peter Lim enjoys a strenuous relationship with the club’s fans, who are largely unhappy with how he runs Valencia.
His dismissal of manager Gennaro Gattuso in January and subsequent recruitment of incumbent manager Rubén Baraja means that the club has averaged two managers a season since Lim’s arrival.
In June 2022, however, the club’s board offered hope on the stadium front by announcing plans to recommence construction. The new vision of the stadium is much smaller, the estimated 49,000 roughly equalling the Mestalla’s capacity.
Work should have begun in October 2022, but as yet, nothing has been done to the site. The club aims to finally complete construction by 2025, but relegation this season could hamper this goal.
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