In October, we spoke to Leganés' president, coach and captain at the AS newsroom. They told us they'd had money left over after putting their squad together that summer. "Many players didn't want to come," they said, offering an example of a player who "preferred to go to Betis for lower wages." We talked about the reasons why: the lack of allure of a club from the outskirts of Madrid with a small ground, whose stay in Primera was expected to be brief... "If we can establish ourselves, it'll be a different story. But this first season is going to be tough." Well, that first term is almost at an end, and Leganés have stayed up. I was at Butarque for their clash with Betis recently. They won 4-0. I spared a thought for the guy who'd turned them down. He hasn't had a happy year in Seville.
Debt-free clubs like Leganés have reached top division at right time
Leganés have kept themselves in Primera - while Osasuna, Granada and Sporting, teams steeped in history, went down - and are following in the footsteps of Eibar, who have now settled in the division with an apparent air of permanence. Both are clubs with no top-tier pedigree who have come debt-free into this time of greater financial checks and balances in Spanish football, in which sides can only spend in line with what's coming in and what's going out. Given that this has been accompanied by rising TV revenue, it's fair to say they've arrived right on time. And more are coming along behind them. Girona have one foot in Primera. Reus and Lugo are consolidating in Segunda and, inspired by the example of Eibar and Leganés, already have one eye on making the step-up.
While likes of Leganés and Eibar prosper in LaLiga...
One hardly needs to be a student of Archimedes to see that the space they occupy has to be vacated by someone else. And that doesn't only apply to the recently-relegated sides above. Valladolid are at least still challenging for the play-offs, but Zaragoza are stagnating in Segunda, as are Córdoba. Mallorca and Elche are in serious danger of dropping down to Segunda B, where Racing and Murcia (who at least are battling to go back up) already are, along with Hércules and Recreativo, who look stuck there. They're all still weighed down by debts from those bygone days when it was a case of 'anything goes'. They can no longer spend money they don't have on their squads; that ended with LaLiga's 'financial fair play' rules. It's going to be tough for them to get back. Their place has been taken.