Colombian football has also had times when David defeated Goliath. In 2018, a 93rd-minute goal consecrated the dreams of Deportes Tolima, who beat Colombian multi-champion Atlético Nacional from 11 meters. The figures reveal a distance between the two teams not only in sport, but also in business and the economy, which is once again in the spotlight now that they are once again contesting a final.
Atlético Nacional is considered the most successful team in the Colombian league, with 75 years of history. The Antioquia club has in its showcases 30 professional titles that certify its sporting tradition; two Libertadores Cups and 16 national titles are the crown jewels of the so-called “Colombian King of Cups”.
The latest Supersociedades report indicated that the Paisa team closed the 2021 period with $49.2 billion in net worth, suffering a reduction of $12,000 compared to the 2019-20 season. Atlético Nacional is part of the Ardila Lülle organization. The different sections of the club have a state-of-the-art sports complex located in the municipality of Guarne; Along with this, it has sports schools all over the country which nurture its minor divisions every year.
Its main sponsors are Postobón and Betplay. In total, there are nine, including Tigo, Aress, Aguardiente Antioqueño, EA Sports, Cedimed, Auteco and Banco Finland.
Over the past decade, winning the 2016 Copa Libertadores has earned him over $40 million.
The club’s maximum shareholder is ex-senator Gabriel Camargo. This made an initial investment in 1978 and over time acquired a larger percentage stake. Camargo has transformed the institution into an economic and sporting model. The Ibaguer team bases its structure on attracting young players with great projection; Moreover, they hire free and experienced players, who haven’t had the best performances in other teams. The various technicians of the institution have managed to polish various national stars to make them strongholds of the league.
The success of the business model is on display in recent Supersociedades reports: in 2021, the Ibagué board closed the year with $15.6 billion in revenue, suffering a sharp reduction due to the pandemic; for the 2019-20 period, the team added $35.7 billion from recent titles and overseas player sales.
The pijaos have a modern headquarters located on the outskirts of the city called “San Gabriel”, in honor of one of the sons of the senator who died a few years ago. It houses state-of-the-art equipment for athlete development. Since the arrival of the Camargo family at the club, the institution has undergone a transformation, leaving behind the relegation places and becoming the “new great of Colombian football”.
Tolima’s main sponsors are BetPlay and Glacial. There are seven in total, with Su Red, AK 1, Multicentro, Merca Centro and Tapa Roja.
For Luis Arturo Henao, journalist for Espn, “the Deportes Tolima model is exemplary, in terms of its organization, its decision-making and the structuring investments it makes. Former senator Camargo imposed a new model for the institution, making decisions on a personal basis and looking for market opportunities he can capitalize on in the future. The institution’s biggest sales during those years were those of Jaminton Campaz at Gremio de Brasil, for US$5,000,000, and Yeison Gordillo at San Lorenzo, for US$1.2 million.
Juan José Mantilla, journalist for Win sports, adds that “the boom of Deportes Tolima lies in the skills of former senator Camargo; he managed to manage the team’s income as well as possible, by forming competitive teams at very low cost”.
Meanwhile, for Santiago Aristizábal, journalist of Telemedellin, “the differential factor of Atlético Nacional is based on the mixture of large economic investments and the great capacity to train new talents. The Antioquia League is number one in the development of young talents”. The upcoming eleventh contest will not only be for the first star of the year; after several prizeless tournaments, the league champion will receive US$500,000 for his consecration; Following a recent agreement with Conmebol, the champion teams of local tournaments will receive an additional bonus. It also remains to be seen if history repeats itself, or if there will be a rematch and the bigger one on paper outperforms the seemingly smaller one on the pitch as well.
A place in the 2023 Copa Libertadores and $3 million at stake
The two Colombian championship finalists will have one more reason to lift the cup on June 26. A direct quota for the group stage of the Copa Libertadores 2023 is announced as the spoils for both teams. Securing a place in the maximum continental event will grant them the sizeable figure of US$3 million. Deportes Tolima managed this year to break a 40-year fast without being able to qualify for the knockout stages of the cup. Additionally, a prize of US$500,000 has been established for the champion.
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