Founded 137 years ago, Derby County is a historic English football club that has been going through moments of uncertainty for more than a year. In 2020, the owner, Mel Morris, former president of Kind Digital, the creator of the popular mobile game Candy Crush, put the equipment up for sale. Several candidates were marching in the following months, but It would not be until yesterday when the sale was confirmed– The Derby became the property of No Limits Sports Limited. The agreement was initialed by the club itself, as announced in a statement. Behind this company there is a visible face, the Spaniard Erik Alonso, 29, who attends El Confidencial: “He has taken everything very discreetly, we had been looking for a club for a while.”
The news spread like wildfire on social media. Who was that Spaniard who happened to be the owner of an English Second Division club like Derby County? A team that became very popular in recent times with the signing of veteran Wayne Rooney as coach / player and later coach of the ‘Rams’. “I come from the world of sports. I’ve been a boxer. My father in his day was the owner of the Club Deportivo Logroñés when he was in the First Division. My vein comes from there, but I have always been a great football fan ”, explains Erik Alonso in a telephone conversation. His father, Jose Fernando Alonso, was the main shareholder of Logroñés in the 90’s. His grandfather, Ramon Alonso, instilled in him a passion for boxing after being the featherweight champion of Spain.
“I understand people, I would also think, but who is this guy?”
Erik Alonso is practically a stranger in Spain. His name is not associated with that of a great businessman capable of buying an English Second Division club. In a simple internet search, the most likely to find is information about his past as a boxer. “I put myself in the position of any journalist or fans and I I would also think, but who is this guy? “, he confesses.
“We started as an event agency for high-level athletes, yes sea Xabi Alonso en Indonesia o Gareth Bale en Indonesia, because I lived there. We continue with representation and advice in clubs, and then take control of Bali United ”, he says. Various local Derby media they have questioned the veracity of this data, alluding to the absence of Erik Alonso on the official website of the Indonesian First Division team. “Of course I am not on the web. At Bali United I am with my Indonesian partners, the laws of the country are very strict, a foreigner cannot be in property, but I have it through private contracts ”, Alonso defends himself.
Erik Alonso, during his time as a boxer.
“90% of Derby County fans have doubts about me and it’s normal. I am not a well-known person in the world of football and when you first heard about me you been as a result of Sheffield Wednesday “. His experience with the Sheffield team, first problem in the landing in the British Isles. In the north of England club, also in the second category of his football, he served as advisor to Dejphon Chansiri, Thai businessman and owner of the sports entity, thanks to his Asian connections. What seemed like an idyllic relationship – Chansiri himself reported that he was helping him to get sponsors and even a sports project – went wrong and ended with the Spanish’s departure.
“The truth is that the Sheffield thing came out everywhere. My goodbye is due to a series of circumstances, an accumulation of things ”, Alonso insists. The Thai businessman ended up giving an interview to the Yorkshire Live medium, in which he accused the Spaniard of exceeding his duties. According to the version transferred to this newspaper, Alonso prefers to avoid telling everything that happened with Chansiri because “He did not wish him any harm and it is not worth it.”
“Most of my businesses are in Indonesia. Whether it is a coal mine, hotel complexes … I am unknown in Spain because I have developed my business stage abroad. I have never had any interest in promoting success, making myself known is not something that matters much to me “, explains about its low media relevance in the country.
The doubts of the fans of Derby County
At the click of a button, the ‘Rams’ fans wondered about the new owner of Derby County. As they pointed out on social networks, there is some difficulty in finding information or context on Erik Alonso and No Limits on the Internet. “It is a company founded very recently with the purpose of buying a team in England. Like is logic, We have hardly any movements because until now the purchase has not been made. In order for me to acquire the club, I have to present a series of proof of financial funds, proof that I can financially support the team for at least two years. I will not say the money that I have or that I do not have, but I am able to acquire it and to take it forward“, answer. The Spanish prefers not to put figures on the amount he has paid for the Derby, but last 2019 it was published in England that Mel Morris had rejected a £ 50 million offer for the club.
Another question that the Spaniard faces is about WBD Sports, the representation agency that brings players like Iago Herrerín, but whose web is down at the moment: “The website of the representation agency has been taken down by me personally. A players agent cannot own a club in England. Obviously I unsubscribed from the registry, but I didn’t want there to be any excuse for being denied the purchase. That is why I decided to cancel the website until I have the official approval to register it. I am no longer part of the agency, it is run by a partner ”.
The Football Index scandal, the bag of players that has gone bankrupt in the United Kingdom
The last controversy that Alonso faces, and which has been rescued by local Derby media, dates back to the summer market of 2019. At that time the Danish Turkish footballer Emre Mor was looking for a way out of Celta de Vigo and put himself in the hands from WBD Sports. Erik Alonso himself confirmed on his Twitter the agreement by which Mor would go to Galatasaray, something that the player denied on social networks asking “Who is this?” “It is a childish thing that gave him. We took his departure from Celta, as the club can attest, but at the last minute his brother wanted to play at being an agent and tried to boycott the operation so that he could leave for free. I already explained it at the time and it was published what had happened the player finished at the Galatasaray three days later”, He exposes when asked about what happened.
Negotiating with Derby County
“The sale is official, we are already working within the club. The contract is signed ”. As Derby County explained in its statement, the only thing missing is the approval of two protocols: the owner test and the club director (formality of the EFL and the Premier League to ensure that the new owner complies with standards in criminal records or any type of negative precedent in the world of football. Alonso is convinced: “In theory everything could be closed on Friday. We have the pre-approval, I understand that everything is going to be fine.”
“The negotiation always it’s been personal with mel morris. He has been involved with everything and has been helping where possible. What’s more, it has been helping me in my search for a house to live there. It will be there for the next season ”, confirms the new owner.
Rooney, at the head of the project
“Today Wayne Rooney has my confidence one hundred percent. We have already had a meeting with the sports director and him ”, Alonso responds about the charismatic Derby coach, a historic Manchester United or Everton player and considered one of the best English footballers in history.
Wayne Rooney, actual entrenador del Derby County. (Reuters)
This businessman is ambitious, but does not deny the evidence: “The plans are obvious. The first thing to be saved this season, that we are looking at how those below come. Looking ahead to next season we want to fight to get to the Premier League, like 10 other teams that fight it every year ”. The team currently occupies the eighteenth position, eight points from relegation places.
“When you enter a club it is to invest. What we are not going to do is throw money away. I am not going to promise to bring Messi or Ronaldo because it is unrealistic. Money is not going to be wasted bringing players who ask for a pasture to come. We are going to look for footballers who can compete in the Premier League, who are affordable and who can either make money for them in a future sale, or who can have a long run in Derby County. We are not going to waste all the money in two years and then see that if we have not climbed we will leave. That doesn’t go with me ”, promises Alonso.