Eibar And President Amaia Gorostiza Dream Again As Spain’s Segunda Hots Up

When lowly Spanish club Eibar, nestled in the hills of northern Basque Country, were relegated from La Liga to the Segunda Division in 2021, it was reasonable to think that their moment in the sun had come and gone.

Two years later and that might still be the case. Although, despite a worrying drop in form, the team led by Amaia Gorostiz – its charismatic president – still has a chance to break into the top flight for only the second time in its history when it enters the all-important promotion play-off alongside Alavés, Levante and Albacete.


Born in Eibar, Gorostiza rose to relative prominence when her warmth and hands-on approach reached viewers in Amazon’s fly-on-the-wall documentary series Six Dreams back 2018. Should she and Eibar achieve great success again, she would become the longest-serving female president of the three representatives in La Liga next season: Valencia’s Layhun Chan and Granada’s Sofia Young.

As veteran Javi Lara curled a free-kick into the top corner against Real Sociedad in 2014, Eibar’s elite adventure got off to a flying start. There was a rush around the new team, it lacked a large infrastructure and financial muscle, but a refreshing, lively scene on the sidelines. Success that followed came from grafting, mind. In the north, where it rains half the year, a determined Gorostiza was visible around the training ground, overseeing a group that collapsed to secure seven successive La Liga campaigns, the first of which ended in relegation in 18th place and a remarkable return to work after financial problems Elche took his place.

Elche’s return to La Liga shouldn’t be exceptional, given his respectable squad allocation this term – just over €13m ($14m). But it was typically shrewd and not to put big bucks on players. More importantly, it went from three wins on the bounce to going nine games without a win in the latter part of the season. He remains under the guidance of coach Gaizka Garitan, so the perfect timing of a second ascent would mark another memorable chapter for the 83-year-old club, which has spent most of its time in the lower divisions – far from top-flight fortunes.


Missing out wouldn’t have changed much for Gorostiza. Instead, promotion would only further cement her status as one of the most successful women in Spanish football. In Valencia, Chan and the board work under the ownership of much-maligned billionaire Peter Lim. While at Granada, Yang oversaw a new team on the verge of promotion, but has only been in the role for 11 months. Meanwhile, Leganés and the most experienced president Victoria Pavón will remain in Segunda. Eibar and Gorostiza – a steady presence since they took the reins – are still a big deal.

As are some others in the shape-shifting league. Andorra, the project led by former Barcelona man Gerard Piqué, is on course for a mid-table finish after becoming the standard just a year ago. A well-supported, growing brand under the star-turned-company Kosmos of businessman Piqué, its leading goalscorer Sinan Bakis has also attracted interest from established Getafe and Rayo Vallecano to the next level. At the other end of the spectrum, Ibiza’s football team is making a comeback.


However, what is perhaps more eye-opening is Málaga. Relegated, and with fans protesting the ongoing directionlessness sports plan, will be featured in the semi-professional Primera federation from August—worlds away from the days when they are battling it out at the business end of the Champions League. In short, it is now a poor, disoriented club with a disinterested owner – Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani – who won’t budge. He also emphasizes that competition in Spanish football has little to do with tradition and reputation.

That’s not the case for Eibar, however, among those fighting for the golden ticket and the financial boost that comes with playing Barcelona and Real Madrid at the weekend, instead of Villarreal’s second appearance. While those in the top division struggle to avoid the drop, Eibar and those around him are dreaming again.

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Forbes – Business

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