Spain news

'Only a meteorite' will halt Rayo game

September 24, 2012
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Real Madrid's rescheduled La Liga game at Rayo Vallecano will go ahead on Monday evening "unless a meteorite falls on us", Rayo president Raul Martin Presa has said.

Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano floodlights
GettyImagesRayo Vallecano's Estadio de Vallecas was left without functioning floodlights

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Martin Presa blamed "terrorists" for cutting floodlight cables inside the Estadio Vallecas and causing the postponement of Sunday night's fixture, and pledged that the game would now go ahead.

A test carried out just after 15.00 local time on Monday revealed that all but one of the affected floodlights had been fixed, enough for Rayo to confirm the game would kick off at 19.45.

"Yesterday we suffered a sabotage, an outrage, an act of footballing terrorism which stopped citizens from freely attending a game," Presa said. "The cables were cut by electrical experts - these were not just simple vandals.

"I want to thank all Rayo fans, who have behaved in an exemplary fashion, and I ask a thousand pardons for this distressing moment. In principle, the game will go ahead … unless a meteorite falls on us."

Rayo director general Luis Yanez explained that 12 cable boxes had been manipulated, taking 57 floodlights out of action, at some time between midnight on Thursday and Sunday afternoon.

The Primera Division match had been due to take place at 21.30 on Sunday. After the problem was discovered approximately an hour before kick-off, an estimated 10,000 Rayo fans waited outside the stadium.

Club and league officials analysed the damage and eventually decided, at around 22.15, to reschedule the game for the following evening.

Police examined the stadium to check for any other potential problems, and a team of 14 specialists were tasked with getting all the lights working again.

A statement on Madrid's website on Monday morning had said they had hoped the game could be played earlier as they were not convinced the floodlight issue would be resolved in time.

And as officials from both clubs and the Spanish league held talks on Sunday night, Miguel Pardeza, Real's sporting director, was telling reporters that he and Real coach Jose Mourinho wanted a 17.00 kick-off.

But Rayo coach Paco Jemez refused to consider a kick-off time that would mean most home fans would be unable to attend. "If they ask us to play at 17.00, I will say no because the fans will not be able to see the game," Jemez said.

"Above everything, our fans should be able to come to see us, those who would be damaged are the people who had a ticket and could not see the show."

While the sabotage was unexpected, some protests by Rayo fans had been foreseen because many fans, including ultras group Los Bukaneros, were upset at a decision by the club to force season ticket holders to pay an extra €25 to attend the game.

Martin Presa told Spanish TV on Sunday night that he did not automatically see a link between ticketing policy and the cutting of the cables.

"The saboteurs climbed up to the roof," he said. "I do not want to think they have done this because of the prices we set for this game."

Rayo have announced that tickets for the original game will be accepted at the turnstiles on Monday night, with fans unable to attend the rescheduled game being given a refund.