Italians in Spain (Part 4) – Age is Just a Number: Amedeo Carboni.

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The final part of my series:

Italians in Spain (Part 4) – Age is just a number: Amedeo Carboni.

“Of the many Italian players to have graced the stadiums of Spain, few have made such an impact as Amedeo Carboni. In fact, no Italian has made more La Liga appearances than the reluctant Tuscan legend, who also went on to become the oldest player ever to feature in the Spanish top flight at the age of 41 years, 1 month and 10 days (Valencia vs. Osasuna, May 16, 2006)…”

Read the full article at Gentleman Ultra

Read Italians in Spain Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Part 3 here

 

View From The Bench – A Coach’s Perspective on Training Young Soccer Players

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I recently caught up with soccer coach Jed Davies to discuss the training and development of young football players. His words are a must read for any young player or coach looking for some insight into the complex world of youth coaching.

“The role of an academy coach is to promote an environment where players are highly-focused, trusting of themselves and others, and able to grow as leaders. Coaches must also ensure that the passion for football is being fed.”

“Kids need heroes, not criticism.”

Read the full interview on the Ertheo website.

Union Esportiva Cornella: Barcelona’s Other Academy

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Photo: @ue_cornella | Twitter

Unless you are a diehard fan of Spanish football, you may not have even heard of Unión Esportiva Cornellá (or UE Cornellá as they are more commonly known). This small team from Catalonia, founded in 1951, plies its trade in Group 3 of the Segunda División B, which represents the third tier of Spanish football…

Read the full article at the18.com

Let’s Talk about SD Eibar

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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 Guardian’s 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 last season 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 with low levels of 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 a previous article. 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, 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 recieve next season 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!

Buy shares in SD Eibar

Unravelling the red tape – Mirandes and Lugo Pay the Price of Success

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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 clubs must cover the administration costs for the conversion. 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 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)