Fran Canal: “Osasuna will legally be able to play the Conference”

Fran Canal (Ourense, 1966), general director of Osasuna, chats with AS in one of the most delicate moments of the entity in recent years. The rojillo club, after qualifying for the Conference League, could be left out of Europe due to the conviction of sports fixing to its previous board of directors. However, he is confident that the UEFA investigators’ sanction proposal will be reversed.

How is the club experiencing this sanction proposal?

We are very worried. We believe that we are the victims of a situation that we do not deserve. We are going to fight to get it reversed and to be able to participate next year in the Conference. It would be a setback not to be able to do it, but above all we believe that we are right and we are going to fight until the end.

The Supreme Court declared Osas a victim of the previous board of directors.

The current board was the one that denounced the previous one because there were very serious irregularities in the club’s administration. It cannot be that the board that tries, above all else, to ensure that the truth, honesty and punishment of criminal acts prevail is the victim of a sanction. It can cause irreparable and prestigious damage, because it has been the entity that has fought against these acts. When someone tries to have that cleanliness, when someone tries to bring to light any type of act that could be considered a crime, they cannot be sentenced in any case and this is clearly stated by the Supreme Court and all previous sentences. Osasuna has been the victim. If you are the victim, in no case can you be convicted.

How likely are they to play in Europe?

We are a team that has achieved a place to play in the Conference through sports and we believe that we are going to achieve it legally. I don’t know if on Appeal or in the TAS. We have to be optimistic.

There is a lot of talk about whether UEFA acted ex officio or it was a complaint from a third party. What do you think?

We have no arguments at this time or proof, what is clear is that this has started. It is not a coincidence. What we do not know is if it was ex officio by UEFA or by a third party complaint. We hope one day to know the truth, but today we don’t. Time at the end puts everyone in their place.

A new setback for a club that almost a decade ago was on the verge of disappearing.

It is so. That goal in the 96th minute changed the whole story. Probably, if the team had not managed to draw in Sabadell and had gone down to Segunda B, the future would have been bleak. The consequences would probably have been dire. What is clear is that at this time the team has achieved sporting results that were unthinkable due to the budget. Reaching the Conference and the Cup final is to pinch ourselves to see if we are in a dream. But, suddenly, due to completely unrelated circumstances, they want to take away the possibility of playing that competition. For us it is an important setback. For all of us who still feel what was experienced in the bad years, it is very hard to think that they want to punish us for a crime for which the Supreme Court has said that we are the victim. You can never punish a victim, it doesn’t make any sense.

The club, at that time, had a debt of €50M with the Treasury.

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The biggest problem that the club had was the debt, which forced us to part with the assets that existed. We had to sell the stadium and Tajonar to the Government of Navarra to pay the debt with the Treasury. Today all that debt is paid. We have really lived through very hard years. All the money we earned we invested in paying that debt. To this day, the debt that exists is that of the day-to-day operation of the club and we have achieved a stadium that in 2021 was considered the best stadium in the world. But it has nothing to do with a debt of 50 million euros that occurred due to non-payment of the club’s tax obligations.

The current board endorsed the club with its assets to save it when it owed €50M to the Treasury.

The president endorsed with all his assets and even with his pension plan because he was already retired. He would have lost absolutely everything, but he understood that it was the obligation of his position and he made that decision. The degree of commitment of the president at that time was greater. The commitment forces us to fight to continue being a transparent club that does not commit any type of act of which we have to be ashamed. We have the obligation to fight to defend what we now believe is ours, which is to participate in the Conference.

How has the club’s brand and reputation survived when match-fixing was investigated?

Credibility is earned with a lot of work and is lost very easily. We have to remain in the same values ​​with which Osasuna began to rebuild itself in 2014. It seems to us a real injustice that now they want to punish us for acts that not only we did, but that we are the first to persecute them. We have the commitment to our partners that those events that could really lead to the team’s disappearance never occur again.

How has social support been in recent years?

Last year we broke the record in number of partners. but this year we will beat it again. Not only from members but from the waiting list of people who request to be members. The members, year after year, show their support for the team and at this time the communion that exists between the institution and the fans is very difficult to match. It is a challenge to keep the twinning situation alive and share feelings of all kinds. The union between the club and its fans is unmatched. We have a responsibility to never fail him.

Osasuna has created a very strong quarry philosophy.

We have to maintain a balance between retaining as many players as possible from the youth academy and bringing in players who feel the club’s philosophy as their own. That they understand and that they identify with our values.

How do you see your sporting future after the successes of this season?

First of all, because of our budget, we have to be a humble team. We don’t have to set a ceiling, but unquestionably every year our work has to start by adding the necessary points to save the category. This year we started the season with that philosophy and it has gone incredibly well. But at all times the objective was always to add the points of tranquility as soon as possible. Any type of plan for the future involves having salvation as soon as possible and knowing that you can set yourself bigger goals later.

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