‘Takes too long before we end up in the top five with Utrecht’
The 72-year-old owner of FC Utrecht, made a wealthy man thanks to the sale of lifting and transport company Mammoet, prefers to focus on the now. And the future, of course. That includes an important role until mid-2025 for former player Michael Silberbauer, who succeeded Fraser in late December.
“We are still seventh,” Van Seumeren notes dryly. “But I think there is a good spirit in the team. There is nice football, albeit it is still changeable.”
Seventh place in the premier league is not what the ambitious financier – he has already put at least 40 million euros into the club since his entrance in 2008 – has in mind with FC Utrecht. There is still a gap to bridge with the top four.
“We are a little stagnant, I think. Last season we finished seventh, but the six years before that we always finished in the top six. I think it’s actually taking too long before we end up in the top five with Utrecht. Because ultimately that is the club’s dream. And of the supporters. Utrecht is the fourth city of the Netherlands; we have to take that place.”
For now, the Domstadelingen are trounced by, among others, Sparta. Remarkable, since tonight’s opponent has to make do with a budget half that of FC Utrecht. “Sparta is doing well,” Van Seumeren acknowledges. “But there is always a team that shoots through so suddenly. I don’t know if Sparta is going to hold a position in the top six for years to come. I think we will.”
Van Seumeren on ‘stagnation’ and ambitions FC Utrecht: ‘Top five takes too long’
And what about FC Twente, which now seems to have dropped out but was long counted among the title contenders? “Indeed. Twente has come back from relegation. Very handsome. Twente is of course a big club, with 30,000 spectators. But I didn’t expect them to become a rival of ours so soon.”
In the battle for the top places, and also those just below them, budgets play a big role. “I’ve been at the club for 15 years now and the budget has grown from 14 million to now 25 million in that period. The number of spectators was always 14,000, 15,000 and now 20,000. The sponsors have increased tremendously.”
“So a lot of good things have happened within the club. But we have to actually make the step towards that top five now so slowly. The club needs to grow and is doing so. But we also have to grow technically. European soccer is becoming more and more important and you have to play European soccer once every two years anyway.”
That goal could also be achieved through the cup tournament. But whoever starts talking about that is opening a not so very old wound with Van Seumeren. FC Utrecht qualified for the finals against Feyenoord in 2020, but due to the prolonged coronagraphs in the Netherlands, that match eventually went astray.
Van Seumeren still balks at cancelled cup final: ‘So unfair’
With that, the club became en passant also blew the chance for European soccer, because the final ranking of the (aborted) competition was leading for the distribution of tickets. FC Utrecht just fell out of the boat as number six. “That still bothers me terribly,” Van Seumeren says bluntly. “I thought that was so unfair of the KNVB.”
Perhaps it will happen this season. After all, the semifinals beckon, now that FC Utrecht was paired with the Spakenbrug amateurs in the draw. The duel in Stadion Galgenwaard is scheduled for Tuesday. “The whole province is very happy about it, because of course they are two clubs from the province of Utrecht. We just have to take revenge for 2020 now then.”