Bizkaian Football Clubs Reject The Possibility Of A Reserve Team League

Bilbao Athletic Celebrate

Bilbao Athletic celebrate a goal at Lezama (AC)

Doubts remain over whether or not the La Liga season will return, but for the lower levels in Spain decisions are already being made. Youth football has been canceled and the Spanish Football Federation has proposed an idea for doing the same with the Segunda B and below. If agreed, the promotional playoffs will still take place but there will be no relegation.

Although nothing has been decided, the possibility of allowing promotion without relegation would significantly change football in the country next season. Each level would have to incorporate more teams which would mean additional games on the schedule while also affecting other things such shared television revenue.

In truth, the Segunda B would see the most substantial growth. Each year 18 clubs are promoted from the Tercera which would be a substantial increase from 80 teams to 98 without relegation. Because of this, some have begun to discuss removing reserve sides from the professional leagues and requiring these teams to play against each other in a separate league much like what takes place in England.

The Spanish Football Federation have no plans to make this change. To begin with, having reserve teams compete in the professional leagues allows for much stronger youth development in the country. Even though it’s not being considered as an option, Javier Beltrán of El Correo recently spoke with presidents from clubs in Bizkaia who  emphatically rejected the idea altogether.

“It’s an approach that we’re not considering right now,” says Leioa president Javier Landeta. “We have lived very well with the reserve teams until now we have never seen it as a problem. Every game against a reserve team is an incentive and challenge as a club, just like when we compete with great historical teams. It’s good for young players to compete in a league like the Segunda B. Any decisions to change the structure would have to be done during much more normal conditions than the current one and with consensus between the clubs, RFEF, and LFP.”

Basconia Celebrate

Basconia have been in great form under manager Patxi Salinas (AC)

Jon Larrea, president of Amorebieta, is in full agreement. “I wouldn’t like it,” he says. “I’m delighted that Bilbao Athletic, Sense, and Osasuna Promesas come here. It’s a luxury that those Primera reserve teams visit us. It generates a good vibe in Urritxe and in the trips to Lezama or Zubieta. I don’t see it, I flatly refuse. I think things are being done quite well in Segunda B.

Jesús Mari Isusi is mere months into his presidency at Barakaldo but sees things in a similar light. “It’s impossible, it’s not even on the table because it can’t be done legally,” he said firmly. “No one has approached us with the possibility. Any change in the competition has to be approved in Assembly with a proposal and study. It’s not even something to dwell on.”

However, the three presidents are also in agreement that having 98 teams in the Segunda B isn’t good either. “It would ruin the Segunda B,” says Isusi. “What we are trying to do is add prestige and professionalize this level. We respect the Tercera clubs fighting for their interests, but we can’t fix season and spoil the next three.” Landeta concurred. “It would be necessary to work on a plan for Segunda B to continue with 80 teams so it’s not congested.”

Naturally, clubs have no desire for their reserve teams to compete in a separate league either. Clubs like Athletic have benefitted greatly from having young players go through the Tercera and Segunda B while also building relationships with the other teams in those levels. On another note, if the RFEF’s proposal is approved then Bilbao Athletic and Basconia will both compete in their respective promotional playoffs simultaneously for the first time in 17 years.

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