New Indian owner wants Racing Santander on world map

Madrid: Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed set his sights on making Racing Santander an internationally recognised name after completing his takeover of the Spanish top-flight club on Saturday.

The founder and chairman of investment company Western Gulf Advisory bought the majority shareholding from the Montalvo family and provided guarantees to pay back money owed to the regional government who helped bail out the club in 2004.

No financial details have been released.

"I am proud today to take over custodianship of this proud club with the support of all the fans, with its rich and storied history," Ali Syed told a news conference.

"My goal in the years ahead will be to lead Racing to a new level in the world community of football to where its name Real Racing Santander becomes a recognised brand ... and for that I humbly seek every fan`s support."

"At the same time my vision for Racing is that it becomes recognised for the entertainment and sporting values of its play," added Ali Syed.

He arrived in the north-coast seaside town in his private jet on Saturday morning and, dressed in a light-green v-necked sweater with a cravat, wore a beaming smile throughout.

Ali Syed refused to take questions but the president of the Cantabrian regional government, Miguel Angel Revilla, spoke for many fans when he brought up the name of popular former striker Nikola Zigic.

He said Ali Syed asked to exchange watches with him when the negotiations were complete, as is customary in India, but Revilla refused because his was not of the same value.

"I just asked that Zigic was playing for the club on Monday," Revilla said.

Serbian international Zigic, who plays for English Premier League Birmingham City, has had two successful spells with Racing and Ali Syed promised in an earlier statement to sign the player before the end of the January transfer window.

Ali Syed, who failed in an attempt to buy English Premier League Blackburn Rovers last year, is the latest foreign investor to arrive in Spain after Malaga were bought by a member of the Qatari royal family at the end of last season.

Racing were owned by Ukrainian-born American businessman Dmitry Piterman between 2003-04 but have suffered the same financial problems as many other Spanish clubs.

A study by a University of Barcelona accounting professor published last year showed Racing had debts of almost 140 million euros (USD 191.9 million). They are operating on a budget of 34 million euros for this season.

The club, founded in 1913, have never won a major title but are top-flight regulars.

Racing`s highest finish for more than 60 years came in 2008 when sixth place earned qualification for the UEFA Cup, otherwise they have usually been involved in the scrap to avoid relegation.

They are 14th in La Liga, three points above the bottom three, and have yet to win a game in 2011.

Ali Syed will attend his first league match at home to high-flying Valencia on Monday.

Bureau Report