More than 1,000 Valencia fans turned up outside the club’s Mestalla stadium on Wednesday evening.

Candles were lit at a mocked-up vigil before a minute's silence was held. “Valencia, R.I.P” read banners held aloft by fans.

Earlier that day, the club announced that captain Dani Parejo had joined their regional rivals Villarreal.

Remarkably, it was confirmed that the central midfielder - widely regarded as one of the best in his position in La Liga - had been moved on without a transfer fee.

It was also confirmed that the Yellow Submarine had landed another Valencia midfielder, Francis Coquelin.

More than 1,000 Valencia fans attended a protest against club owner Peter Lim and president Anil Murthy

The former Arsenal man had established himself as a fans’ favourite at the Mestalla, with his combative style of play endearing him to supporters.

Reports indicate that the deal was processed for an initial fee of just £5.8million, rising to £7.2m after add-ons.

Just over a year previously, Parejo had led los Che to the Copa del Rey while securing a second successive top-four finish in La Liga.

Those successes were achieved under coach Marcelino Garcia Toral, who enjoyed a formidable working relationship with sporting director Mateu Alemany.

To put their achievements into perspective, Valencia had failed to finish in the top half of La Liga in each of the two campaigns prior to their arrival in 2017.

Francis Coquelin was allowed to join regional rivals Villarreal for a reported fee of just £5.8m initially

Yet Marcelino endured a difficult relationship with the club’s owner Peter Lim, and in September he was dismissed from his role despite the on-pitch achievements.

Following his sacking, Marcelino revealed - in quotes carried by Marca - that Lim had never even congratulated him or the team for winning the Copa earlier that year. That was the club’s first trophy in 11 seasons and brought mass celebrations to the city.

"It was a secondary competition for him [Lim] and it put Champions League qualification at risk, so we were not thanked,” Marcelino revealed.

Alemany tendered his resignation following Marcelino’s dismissal as the club’s instability continued.

Former Spain Under-21 boss Albert Celades was appointed as coach and, despite impressively steering the club through a tough Champions League group - their opponents were Ajax, Chelsea and Lille - their form imploded in the second half of the season.

Fans lit candles at a mocked-up vigil with banners bearing the slogan 'Valencia, R.I.P'

With the club’s ambitions of European football slipping away, Celades was sacked. He was the sixth manager to be dismissed since Singaporean billionaire Lim bought the club in 2014, with ‘Voro’ returning to the hot seat for the final weeks of the season.

It was his sixth stint in temporary charge of the club, but he could not reverse the declining results. Valencia finished ninth, a whopping 17 points adrift of a top-four slot. Amid the chaos, sporting director Cesar Sanchez resigned his position.

Former Watford boss Javi Gracia is the new man in charge, but he now faces a thankless and unenviable task.

The club’s president Anil Murthy admitted Valencia face a “difficult season” but he insisted they had to take these actions to avoid bankruptcy.

In quotes cited by Football Espana, Murthy said: “We are preparing for a difficult season and Valencia will not be the only impacted club.

Javi Garcia faces a thankless task after taking charge as head coach last month

“We are going to have a difficult season due to Covid-19, so we must be responsible and control costs in a way strict. What good is a bankrupt club?

“If things go badly financially due to Covid-19, all clubs will be in trouble. We have to lead through responsible management during the Covid-19 crisis.”

Not only have Parejo and Coquelin departed, but the club’s rising star Ferran Torres has also joined Manchester City.

The exciting winger was sold for a reported initial fee of just £20m, widely viewed as being significantly below his true market value.

This was partly due to the 20-year-old entering the final year of his contract, but it’s another bit of business that angered the club’s fans.

Ferran Torres took a swipe at Valencia after leaving the club for Manchester City

Torres gave an interview with Marca which highlighted the ongoing fractures behind the scenes. He was scathing of the environment at Mestalla and reserved particular criticism of Parejo: “He was not a good captain for me.”

The Spain youth international also revealed his requests to the club when asked about his renewing his contract.

“One was for Peter Lim to be involved so that I knew I was important, another was to be captain as I had seen other clubs do, [Atletico Madrid] with Fernando Torres, for example, and the third was to be one of the highest-paid players. I wanted two of the three, but none were fulfilled.”

Central defender Ezequiel Garay was more explicit in his criticism of the club after leaving as a free agent this summer.

The Argentine clocked up 114 appearances across his four seasons at Mestalla but reports claim there was an irreversible fallout between the central defender and the club, with claims and counterclaims in relation to whether or not he was offered a new and renewed contract this year.

Garay stated that “people in the club are trying to discredit me” and claimed there was a smear campaign against him, so fans would take the side of Valencia.

Captain Parejo’s exit this week has raised similar questions, as he released a tearful video in which he explained to fans that he tried to find a way to stay put but found the club were not interested.

For such a club icon to make such a statement pushed many fans into their protests this week, organised by the Salvem Nostre Valencia CF (Save Our Valencia CF) group.

The club’s chaos is linked directly to cutbacks from the top of the organisation.

Valencia owner Peter Lim looks on prior to the start of the La Liga match between Valencia and Real Madrid at Estadi de Mestalla on January 4, 2015
Owner Peter Lim appears to be all-powerful at Valencia

This was a squad assembled on a Champions League budget, but missing out on European football entirely - combined with the financial ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic - has led to harsh measures.

A report in Marca last month claimed Valencia were reducing their budget by a whopping 40%, with last season’s wage bill of £166m to be trimmed to £90m.

Many of the slogans at this week’s protest were personally targeted at Lim and Meriton Holdings, the billionaire’s private investment company.

It indicates a growing chasm between the fans and the ownership which was exacerbated by Lim’s daughter Kim claiming the family “can do anything we want” with the club.

Last month, Kim posted on Instagram : “Here again. Some Valencia CF fans are scolding and cursing at my family and I. Don’t they get it? The club is ours and we can do anything we want with it and no one can say anything.”

Dani Parejo unveiled as a Villarreal player after being allowed to leave Valencia with no transfer fee involved


It will not come as a surprise, but Murthy defended Lim against ongoing fan criticism.

“Before Peter Lim took office, the club was unstable,” Murthy added, via Football Espana. “We are in this in the long term to turn Valencia into a stable and successful club.

“We accept that we can make mistakes, but we will always work to guide the club so that it returns the best again.”

The cutbacks at Valencia have just begun, with several other first-team players set to be sold for minimal fees this summer.

Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, defenders Eliaquim Mangala and Mouctar Diakhaby, central midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, winger Goncalo Guedes and forwards Rodrigo Moreno and Kevin Gameiro are all players who could depart.

Widely regarded as Spain’s fourth largest club, there is palpable discontent between Valencia’s board and the fans, and frustrations are starting to boil over once again.

All the signs suggest the friction will get worse before it gets better, and expectations ahead of the new season are non-existent.

Supporter protests are likely to grow stronger and more damaging to the club in the coming months without any solution on the horizon.

For Valencia’s hierarchy, the enforced stadium closures is probably a good thing.

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