Eat at the txoko and clear the table

Amaia Gorostiza, president of Eibar, in Ipurua.

Eibar is in danger. After six consecutive seasons in the First Division, he occupies a relegation place in the absence of a few days. And on the edge of the precipice, and as an example of a modest team, the Superliga project, like the rest of the clubs that are not involved in it, smells of singe. “Eibar is an entity that has taken 74 years to reach the top category,” says Jon Ander Ulazia, CEO of a club that is the only first club chaired by a woman, Amaia Gorostiza. “It was a dream that we saw as impossible and that we achieved in 2014 due to sporting merits. Implementing such an idea would mean that those merits would be replaced by money ”.

The leader of the armory club points out: “There is a generation of children in Eibar who are used to seeing Madrid, Barcelona and the big teams in Ipurua, it seems normal to them and that the Super League can take it forward.” And remember: “The first year, the impact was brutal. When Madrid arrived in the field, crossing the town, everyone was on the street. We were there for a season with parties every 15 days. They say they would continue playing, but with a competition like the Super League, they would face the League with squad B. On the social level, in the long run, if the League loses interest, the fans lose their attachment ”.

And there is also the economy, the cold numbers that are handled in SD Eibar, a club with a budget of 58 million euros (Barcelona has 828), which this past summer only spent two, and whose highest incorporation in its history it cost four.

“We have always been a healthy club and sometimes very conservative in that sense, but in Primera we have become a great contributor to the institutions. Last year we paid 24 million in taxes to the Treasury “, and that, says the CEO,” is an economic boost that transcends football. The decrease in business, because the income pie is not infinite, would affect society ”. After six years in the top flight, Eibar has gone from having 50 employees, including the sports staff, to 200. A change of model, they say, could destroy them.

Romanticism still beats in Ipurua, a stadium located under a viaduct on the Bilbao-Behobia AP8 motorway, with a capacity for 8,164 people, the second lowest in Primera, only ahead of Alcoraz, in Huesca, and little more than Di Stéfano, the field of the sports city where Madrid now plays. And although the pandemic has changed some customs, the Eibar players used to meet three times a week to eat in the txoko of the same field, a place where they mixed with the technicians of the various teams and the entity’s employees . The food is made right there, by the cooks of a specialized company, under the supervision of a nutritionist, with products from the surroundings of Eibar. Many footballers repeat even on the days when they are not required to attend. When they finish, they clear their table, deliver the dishes to the managers and personally take care of throwing the waste away. They are all the same there.

Eibar lives in that modesty. “Three years ago we put together a great squad and in some phases of the season we dreamed of arriving in Europe. Imagine what it would have meant for a city like ours”, says Ulazia. With the current money from televisions, Eibar has remodeled Ipurua from top to bottom, despite the fact that it is a municipal venue, and will soon begin to build its sports city. “These infrastructures are going to be there for 30 or 40 years,” says Ulazia. “We had the option of using that money to pay more and more to the players, but that is a wheel, in which the Super League clubs are involved, and from which you no longer leave.”

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