'Athletic, Athletic, club de limpia tradición...' That was the first anthem I knew of the old and beloved Athletic Club, 'world football's unique case', as the sporting bible L'Équipe once wrote. Quite some time ago, until the turbulence of the Spanish Transition, everyone was a little, or a lot, for Athletic. Those of us of a certain age continue to be, whether from Madrid, like me, or from somewhere else. The embers still glow. There is still a little Athletic in everyone and that is why today, when it comes to dealing with difficult elections, we look on with interest. More seeing the historic challenge the club is facing, with a serious threat of relegation.
Urrutia will go. Disregarded as evasive by the paranoia of many sectors of the club, he leaves behind his work. He has presided over the club's best period since Clemente, has built the new San Mamés, and has rigorously maintained the old principles of the club, the best known of which, although not the only, is to relinquish players developed outside the region. The team is left in a difficult position, but it is the time we're living. In just a few years, Kepa, Laporte, Javi Martínez, Herrera and Llorente have all been sold. It is difficult to manage Athletic these days, with the Bosman ruling in place and the ambition of the Champions League.
The Athletic candidates
Today there are two candidates: the option for continuity with Uribe-Echevarria or the one who offers himself up as a bold alternative, Elizegi. I have not been aware of, at least from a distance, an outstanding debate. Athletic imposes, as part of its core, some limitations that force you to think about things better than others, and I have not witnessed that in the campaign. But whoever wins, I wish him all the best, and I applaud the boldness of going up for election with Athletic as it currently is, having the courage to risk taking on the presidency in these difficult days. And, when one man wins, I hope he has the complete support from he who is defeated.