The promotion of Basque Country minnows SD Eibar to the top flight of Spanish football is one of the great sporting stories of the year. However, the achievements of the club, and 38-year-old Coach Gaizka Garitano, have been slightly overshadowed by the recent news that they may face demotion back to the third tier of Spanish football if they do not raise €1.7m by August 6.
A campaign has been launched – backed by high profile former player Xabi Alonso – and many journalists, including the Guardians’ Sid Lowe, have been highlighting their plight and urging football fans around the globe to purchase shares in the club to help raise the necessary capital.
There have been claims that they are being punished for being a small well-run club with no debt, so let’s take a deeper look at the situation and ask a couple of questions:
Why do they have to pay this amount of money?
How did they end up in this situation?
Could they have avoided it?
Will they be able to resolve it?
As you have probably read by now, they have to pay the money because of a rule that was introduced by the LFP (Spanish FA) 15 years ago. The rule states that every team in the Segunda Liga has to have capital equal to 25% of the average expenses of all the teams in the Second Division – excluding the two clubs with the biggest outgoings and the two clubs with the smallest outgoings.
It has been well publicized that Eibar have the smallest budget in the league, so in theory they should also have the lowest wage bill – but this is not the case. In fact, there are at least seven teams in the league that have lower wage bills than the €2.7m spent by the Basque side including Hercules, Alaves, Numancia, Recreativo, Real Jaen and SD Ponferradina, with Alcorcon, Girona and Tenerife all operating at a similar level. Overall, Eibar’s wage to turnover ratio of 70.5% is the second highest in the league.
The fact that they have no debt to service means that they can afford to pay these wages but they are not the only low budget team in the league without debt. Of the 11 teams with budgets of €5m or less, seven of them have very little or zero debt.
So how did Eibar end up in this situation? After all, they knew it was coming. This rule has been in place since 1999 and every team is aware of the consequences of non-compliance. Why did they not budget for it?
Their budget of just under €4m is the lowest in the league by €50,000, just below Cordoba. If they also had the lowest wage bill (currently Hercules at €1.5), they would have had an extra €1.2m in the bank and would have been close to fulfilling the capital requirement. Unfortunately, that strategy would have probably got them relegated straight back to Segunda B.
Much of their wage bill has been taken up by the loan fees of players from the top flight such as Berchiche, Eizmendi, Jota, Morales, Rivas and Garcia, and these deals have certainly helped them in their quest for promotion. The decision to keep a high wage bill seems to be a calculated gamble that has paid off with the ultimate prize.
Last summer, both Lugo and Mirandes had to find similar amounts of money because of another technicality – as covered in our previous article here. Both clubs had similar budgets to Eibar but because they did not achieve promotion to La Liga, they did not enjoy the same media coverage. The year before, a similar fate befell Alcorcon and Guadalajara, with the latter eventually being demoted for alleged financial irregularities (pending appeal – decision due June 10).
The positive news is that SD Eibar should easily raise the capital before the deadline. The coverage of this case has thrust them into the spotlight and fans around the world are snapping up the chance to buy a piece of Spanish football history. Sponsors will also be attracted by the prospect of La Liga coverage and once the money is raised, SD Eibar will be able to look forward to all the financial benefits that top flight football delivers.
The irony of the situation is that the new LFP rules now make the Segunda league a much more even playing field as the bigger teams are actually forced to reduce their outgoings and wage bills to avoid debt accumulation. While this gives teams like Eibar a fighting chance, it also means that there are strict guidelines for all clubs, with no exceptions.
The club’s accountants would have been aware of this impending financial sting – and could have reduced their outgoings – but instead they took the decision to try and consolidate their Segunda status first, just as Lugo and Mirandes did last year. They were always going to have to find the €1.7m – even without promotion – but the €20m revenue they will earn next year will certainly soften the blow.
After August 6, SD Eibar will take their rightful place in La Liga and they will have a whole new set of fans cheering them on.
Eskozia la brava!
As we reach the half way point in the season it’s a good time to look at some of the players that have impressed in the Segunda Division this season. Of course, this is not a definitive list, and there are plenty of other players that done well this year. Jona has looked good for Jaen while Borja Viguera has been scoring for fun at Alaves, despite finishing the year at the bottom of the table; German Lux has been solid in goal for Depor while Francisco Molinero has been impressive at right back for Murcia; Mirandes still seem to revolve around Aritz Mujika – when he is fit – and Lekic has been the perfect foil for Scepovic at Sporting. One thing is sure; it is proving to be one of the tightest seasons ever with just five points between the play-off positions and the relegation zone as we approach the winter break. So let’s start with a look at the season’s top scorer so far.
Player: Stefan Šćepović
Club: Sporting de Gijon (on loan from Partizan)
After an impressive youth career in Serbia, the young striker caught the eye of several European teams but he eventually signed a professional contract with OFK Beograd from Belgrade. His career faltered slightly after a goal drought that resulted in several loan spells and a forgettable period at Club Brugge in Belgium. He eventually regained his scoring form at Hapoel Acre in Israel and earned a move back to his homeland with Partizan where he also gained experience in the Europa League. Now aged just 23, Šćepović is hitting the best form of his career so far on loan at Sporting Gijon, where he plays alongside fellow countryman Dejan Lekic. He is currently the top scorer in the Segunda league and his form has once again caught the eye of several clubs, paving the way for a significant move this summer.
Player: Enzo Rennella
Club: CD Lugo (on loan from Real Betis)
Rennella was born in France but made his mark after signing for Swiss club Lugano. His form caught the eye of scouts from Genoa and he signed a long-term contract with the Italian side. He was immediately loaned back to Lugano and spent the next four years on loan at several clubs. Despite being labelled as a striker, Rennella has been noted for his ability to play in several positions and has often been used in a deeper midfield role as a link-up player. He has good game intelligence as well as an eye for goal and his performances for Cordoba in the 2012-13 season earned him a contract with Spanish side Real Betis. He has spent this season on loan with Lugo and has enjoyed his best spell of form to date. An injury has left him out of action since the end of November, and it is no coincidence that Lugo’s form has dropped dramatically since his absence. He is expected to return in the New Year and will be the key to re-igniting Lugo’s play-off ambitions.
Player: Fernando Pacheco
Club: Real Madrid Castilla
Pacheco was born in Badajoz in the Spanish region of Extremadura and signed for Real Madrid at the age of 14. He worked his way up through the ranks and made his first senior appearance for the C-team in 2011 and was quickly called-up to appear for the B-team the same year. By last summer he had sealed his place as first choice keeper for Castilla and despite their terrible start to this year’s Segunda campaign, Pacheco has continued to receive high praise for his consistent performances. As a result, he has also made several appearances for Spain’s U21 team and has been tipped as a future Spanish No1.
Player: Yuri Berchiche
Club: SD Eibar (On loan from Real Sociedad)
Position: Left back
Born in the Basque Country, Yuri impressed during his youth career at Real Sociedad and was somewhat predictably poached by their arch rivals Athletic Bilbao at the age of 17. The player had been on the radar of many European scouts, and Athletic eventually struck a deal for the player to move to England with Tottenham Hotspur, where he continued his development at their academy. A couple of loan spells followed before he was released and returned to the Basque Country to play for Real Union. It was during his time in the Segunda B league that he really began to flourish and eventually completed his football circle and returned to Real Sociedad. He has spent this season on loan at SD Eibar and has been one of the players of the season with his impressive performances at left back.
Player: Ulises Dávila
Club: Cordoba (on loan from Chelsea)
Dávila first caught the eye of international scouts during his 2006 triumph with Guadalajara in the Mexican Youth Championships. By the 2008/09 season he had impressed enough to earn a starting place in the Guadalajara senior team aged just 18. He also appeared in the Copa Libertadores and was a regular member of the Mexican U20 team that came third in the 2011 U20 World Cup in Colombia. He was linked with several European clubs before he became the first ever Mexican player to sign for Chelsea in 2011. Still only 20, he was loaned to Dutch side Vitesse and featured regularly for their reserve team. His Spanish odyssey began the following season with an impressive loan spell at Sabadell in the Segunda Division. Ironically his first league goal came against the Spanish side, Guadalajara. In the summer he agreed a loan move to Cordoba on transfer deadline day and has enjoyed the best ever form of his career. Still only 22, he has already been called up to the Mexican senior team and could enjoy a bright future is he continues to develop at his current rate.
Player: Vicente Gomez
Club: Las Palmas
Position: Defensive midfielder
Vicente Gómez was born in Las Palmas on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria and began his career for local team AD Huracán. His role in their promotion to the Tercera Division in 2008 earned him a move to Las Palmas where he made 28 appearances for the B team before being promoted to the senior squad. Since then he has remained a regular fixture in the Las Palmas first team and last season he helped them reach the play-offs where they eventually lost to Almeria. In the summer, Las Palmas lost their star player Vitolo to Sevilla but Vicente Gómez has helped the side to remain in the hunt for promotion with his assured performances alongside fellow midfielder Apoño.
There was good news for Real Jaen today as the Mayor of Jaen, Jose Enrique Fernández de Moya, and the president of the football club, Rafael Teruel, announced at a press conference that the National Sports Council (CSD ) has given the seal of approval to a new set of accounts that have been submitted by the club. The accounts show that the club meets the financial requirements necessary to continue in the Segunda Division and will avoid an administrative relegation to Segunda B, a fate which befell Guadalajara last year.
After three years of hard work to get the club finances back on track after they were faced with bankruptcy, the news will come as welcome relief for everyone involved at the club. The successful meeting with the president of the CSD, brings to an end a difficult period for the club during which a shadow of uncertainty has followed the club despite the joy of promotion to the Segunda Division.
Club President Rafael Teruel expressed his satisfaction with the ruling: “We are very happy. Now we have to move on and worry only about sport.”
If you are a fan of Liverpool FC and enjoy watching Spanish football; you may have a preference for a certain team in La Liga. You might admire the tiqui-taca style of Barcelona or have a soft spot for Rafa Benitez’s old club, Valencia. You may even have a fondness for an old European final adversary such as Deportivo Alavés or Real Madrid. However, there is a club tailor made for Liverpool fans and they could be about to embark on an epic journey into the glamorous world of La Liga. That club is CD Lugo.
During the 1980’s, many Spanish football fans admired from afar as Liverpool dominated European football with their impressive pass and move style of football. This style of football appealed to the Spanish as it was the way that all fans wanted their teams to play. Pass and move football had been introduced to Spain in the early 20th century by pioneering English and Scottish coaches who had moved to the the country to ply their trade.
Since their foundation in 1953, CD Lugo had spent most of their time in the fourth tier of Spanish football, but in the 1980’s the club from the Galicia province had one of their best ever teams and established themselves at Segunda B level. Eventually, in 1993, they secured their first ever promotion to the Segunda Liga, where they spent just one season.
During this successful period in the 80’s and 90’s, many supporters started referring to their team as “Lugopool” in a humorous show of appreciation for the attractive style of football that their team had adopted. Soon after, they went one step further and started referring to their “Anxo Carro” stadium as “Anfield Carro,” a nickname that has stuck to this day. It was then only natural that the fans began singing Liverpool’s famous anthem “You’ll never walk alone” on the terraces.
It has taken nearly two decades but CD Lugo, also known as “Xogo Bonito (Beautiful game),” are finally back in the Segunda Division and they are enjoying life near the top of the table. They are once again playing their coveted brand of pass and move football, under the guidance of former Racing Santander legend Quique Setién, and they could even be on the verge of gaining promotion to La Liga for the first time in the club’s history.
So, if you are a Liverpool fan wondering which Spanish club you should follow – then look no further. Get behind the boys at Anfield Carro as they sing “You’ll never walk alone” all the way to the top tier of Spanish football.
With the new season upon us, let me pay tribute to the Segunda Division; a realm of Spanish football far-removed from the glitz and glamour of its more illustrious sibling. This is the backyard of Spanish football that leads; one way, to the palace of fortune and the other, to the barren alleyways of the part-time regional leagues. For the lower league minnows, it is the Promised Land; where the Holy Grail of La Liga glory is just a battlefield away. But for the once-mighty that have fallen from grace it is a place to be feared; it is the trapdoor to oblivion.
The Segunda is a place where success cannot be bought. This is the domain of zero net-spends, regulated wage bills and restricted budgets. The giants that find themselves exiled into this wasteland are stripped of their treasures and must earn their way back. No guts, no glory.
The Segunda is a technical proving ground for maverick Coaches looking to make their mark in the land of tiqui-taca. It is the home of former legends making a last stand alongside the journeymen who hitch a ride on the annual carousel of loans and free transfers like footballing hobos.
To prevail in this league you need to play with skill, intelligence and invention. You also need strength and guile and you need passion. There is no easy way out. Antiquated purveyors of the long-ball game are duly sentenced to death-by-football in half-empty stadiums, heckled by fanatical ultras from behind clouds of pyro and weed smoke.
This is a land of bureaucracy and red-tape where a wrongly dotted i or an uncrossed t can lead to expulsion and where mud-slinging, name-calling and allegations of subterfuge are par for the course. An unpalatable clash of politics, drama and sport that is strangely compelling for all its flaws. This is Spanish football at its best; raw and unplugged, no ribbons or bows.
The Segunda is back. Let the games begin.
In Spain, there once existed a team of true invincibles, a team that played an entire League campaign of 30 games without a single loss or draw. This was not a famous team with a great reputation or pedigree, this was CD Ourense; a small third division club from Galicia in the North West of Spain, formed in 1952 from the ashes of the demised Unión Deportiva Orensana.…
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It has been reported recently that the Spanish Second Division teams: CD Mirandes and CD Lugo, may be expelled from the Division for failing to meet financial obligations. So, exactly what have these clubs done wrong? The answer of course is nothing. Both teams have existed happily in the lower leagues for many years and have been well-run with little or no debt; they have formed good relationships with local sponsors and businesses and have enjoyed strong support form the local communities. So why are they now on the verge of being punished so harshly?
The answer is that they have become victims of their own success. The transition from part-time minnows to potential La Liga competitors is a massive one for these clubs and in order to play with the big boys they must hatchet their way through a mass of Government red-tape. To compete for a second season in the Division they must first change the legal structure of their clubs.
In 1990 the Spanish authorities sought to adopt a common economic and legal model for all sporting teams competing at the highest level. The aim was to allow the clubs to participate in share trading on the stock market, establish a clear and transparent administrative control system over ownership issues and to ensure the interests of the public and future investors are protected. To conform to these guidelines football clubs that are not already registered must convert to a Sociedad Anónima Deportiva (SAD). In order to do this the club must cover administration costs for the conversion to the legal format. Because Mirandes and Lugo are new to this level of football (Lugo reached the Segunda in 1992 but were relegated after one season), they have never been converted to an SAD.
For a small team like CD Mirandes, who have been operating on a budget of 500,000 euros a year, this means they have to raise nearly 2.5 million euros in order to pay for the administration costs of the conversion. This money is demanded by the Governments Sports Council (Consejo Superior de Deportes, CSD) and is non-negotiable, unless of course you happen to be Athletic Club Bilbao, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or Osasuna, who were allowed to retain their non-commercial statuses for historical reasons.
The implications of non-payment are clear; the teams will be relegated from the Segunda Division. The President of Lugo, José Bouso, declared that: “the club is optimistic about completing the conversion.” However they have received a 900,000 euro contribution from the council, and a further 600,000 euros from the City of Lugo, leaving just under one million euros to pay.
CD Mirandes are finding things a bit more difficult as they have received no regional or provincial support and need to find the money themselves. So far they have raised only 15% of the amount needed and have until 30th June to declare their status.
The situation could deter potential investors from looking at smaller non-SAD clubs, as any progress on the pitch could lead to an unwanted encounter with bureaucracy.
(The expulsion of CD Guadalajara from the Segunda Division amid doubts over their SAD status is currently in the middle of a legal process)
Born in 1903 and known simply as “Yermo”, Jose Maria Yermo Solaegui was a Basque footballer who played as a striker for Arenas Club de Getxo and captained the Spanish national team. In 1928 he famously became the first player to score a hat-trick for Spain. However, his sporting achievements were not limited to the football pitch.…
Read my full article at Football Republik
Football Republik is a new website featuring an eclectic mix of football musings from top writers around the globe.