Have you heard of Eibar, the latest David and Goliath story to emerge from Spain? The tiny club’s first season in La Liga has been chronicled and it makes for fascinating reading.
Every so often Spain throws up stories of small clubs punching above their weight and hitting the big time. Think of Villareal or Elche, or Jordi Cruyff-inspired Alavés, Liverpool’s opponents in the thrilling 2001 Uefa Cup final.
Well now there’s a new name in that select band and it’s probably the smallest of the lot. Eibar, from the Basque Country, boasts a population of 27,000 and the Ipurua Stadium, home of Sociedad Deportiva Eibar holds just 5,000 spectators. And yet this team managed to upset the odds and earn promotion to La Liga.
Scotsman Euan McTear was able on hand to chronicle the challenges of Eibar’s first season in the top flight, where the entire team’s salary budget would buy just half a season of Cristiano Ronaldo on his own.[Continues]
A Season with Eibar
McTear’s book reads a little like Tim Parks’ A Season with Verona, which is one of the best football books ever written, although McTear doesn’t trail the club around the country personally throughout the season as Parks did. McTear does score some high level interviews, however, such as from Spanish football journalists Guillem Balague and Sid Lowe.
For me, one of the standout stories was how Eibar – once promotion was secured from La Segunda División – managed to swiftly raise the funding required to actually take part in La Liga. As McTear explains, according to Spanish law, “professional football teams must have a social capital which equates to 25% of the average expenses of all other teams in the Segunda division, minus the two clubs with the largest expenditure and the two with the smallest.”
In all, Eibar had to raise €1,724,272, which it achieved through an international hunt for shareholders. The clubs financial prudency would help preserve its status as – following a tense final day relegation from the top flight – the club was recalled to the Primera as promoted Segunda team Elche was in financial turmoil.
All in all, Eibar the Brave shines a light on a charming and important story from one of the world’s richest and most imbalanced leagues. The book could have done with a tighter edit in my view but is thoroughly enjoyable.
You can buy Eibar the Brave here on Amazon.