Gil Vicente: Still Waiting For Justice After Almost 20 Years

Earlier this week, I purchased my first Surprise Shirts box, hoping to get a European club I could write about here.

The club I got was Portuguese Liga side Gil Vicente, a side I had criminally never heard of. So, I grabbed my mouse and went hunting for a news story I could add to the site. After a bit of digging, I found a fascinating story of relegation and promotion, but more recently, of a new president with aims of strengthening ties to the local community.

Gil Vicente, known as Gilistas plays at the 12,000 capacity Estádio Cidade de Barcelos in Barcelos, Northern Portugal. Gilistas translated means followers of Gil, something that the new president Avelino Dias da Silva is keen on making sure becomes literal. He recently replaced his brother, Francisco, as the club’s president, and he’s already explained what it is that hurts him about the support for his club.

“One of my goals is to involve Barcelos in the club,” he told A Bola this week. “I believe it is a key point and a great challenge for the future, because if we look at the municipality of Barcelos, with 120 thousand inhabitants, only about six thousand are members of Gil Vicente.

“Looking at these numbers hurts me. My great ambition is to make the people of Barcelos part of our family. Because it is really very important for the future of the club that people get involved.”

One of his first tasks will be to oversee the remuneration the club is due as compensation for the Matheus affair. This is a remarkable story, which saw the club punished for fielding an ineligible player. In 2006, Gil Vicente had a player called Mateus Galiano da Costa, an Angolan international who represented his country in the 2006 World Cup. Prior to that, he helped Gil Vicente to stay in the top flight, with Belenenses relegated.

The winger had previously played for Lixa, but since his contract with Lixa wasn’t technically a legal contract, Gil Vicente signed him. Lixa had looked to save money with a flimsy ‘contract’ which wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. After getting permission, Matheus played a few games and helped keep Gil Vicente up, and therein lies the problem. Belenenses contested their relegation, and Gil Vicente were punished, dropping into the second tier.

Mateus is the only 'Portuguese' in Angola's squad

The appeals continued, and Vicente came up in 2011 and went back down in 2015. In 2017/18, they were relegated to the third tier, playing a single season there before the courts intervened again. This time, it was agreed their demotion in 2006 was not lawful, and they were promoted from the third tier back into the top flight. Amazingly, not only did they stay up, but they thrived and have since qualified for Europe once. Their competition was brief – they beat Riga 5-1 in the Conference League third qualification round but then lost 6-1 to Alkamaar in the playoff.

Still, not only did they get their top-flight status back, but they are also due compensation, something that brings us back around to today. Dias da Silva, the current president, has revealed the wait for compensation goes on but will do so in the right manner.

“We are sure that it will be resolved one day,” he added. “I have already taken care to speak with the president of the Portuguese Football Federation. We don’t want to approach this issue aggressively. It wasn’t the stance of the previous president, and it won’t be my stance. We will try to resolve the problem in a peaceful and civilised way, making it feel that we have the right to compensation.”

“I think it is too long to resolve such a matter; it is a bit of a shame. If we are reimbursed, it will be a breath of fresh air in financial terms and a great help for Gil Vicente.”

He might not be pushing for recompense, but it is surely due, and when it does arrive, who knows, it might help push Gil Vicente back into Europe.

What of the player? He was something of a curse, as he joined Boavista the year after, who were also relegated for their part in the Apito Dourado match-fixing scandal. He also played for C.D. Nacional and Arouca, as well as having a spell back in Angola. He last appeared for his country in 2021, and was last turning out for lower league side F.C. Maia in Portugal.

I look forward to next month and seeing what clubs I get in my Surprise Shirts box!


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