The Eibar model. More than the title of a book published in 2019 by former club president Alex Aranzabal, it is the story of a club that has fascinated Spain in football. Small town of 27,000 inhabitants lost in the Basque valleys, Eibar has made itself known throughout the country and even in the world thanks to many facets. But above all thanks to its operation and its unusual model today, at a time when we are talking about the Super League and clubs financed by investment funds or states. Seven seasons during which the Armeros – the Armourers, NDLR, historical crafts of the region – have challenged the ogres of Iberian football, making only a few pale figures elsewhere, with rickety means and a very marked philosophy.
Often lower budget in the championship, the Basque team has remained faithful to a line of conduct: not to spend more than what we have. And maybe that’s what caused his descent, but that’s another debate. A motto to which the various directions of recent years have remained faithful, until that chaired by Amaia Gorostiza, also the only female patron of a first division club in Spain this season and among the pioneers in this field. A horizontal club model, with choices made in a common way. No omnipresent boss to make decisions, as is more and more often the case on the other side of the Pyrenees, but a team of managers who work hand in hand to recruit intelligently in particular. Free or very inexpensive players (the club’s record transfer is 4 million euros for Edu Exposito in 2019), which we do not hesitate to seek in unusual markets. Optimization of the means available is the key word.
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An economic engine for the city and successful internationalization
In a region where the giants Athletic and Real Sociedad, as well as Alavés on a lesser scale, vampirize the attention of the supporters, difficult to pull out of the game and to have interesting growth prospects. And what to say at the national level … How to survive in this jungle? The internationalization of the club, through social networks in particular, has made it possible to gather fans and shareholders from all over the world. We are talking about a club which has 20 peñas (groups of supporters) abroad, including two in Australia! Unheard of for a club with so little experience at this level. Certain recruitments and sponsorship contracts also made it possible to reach new fans, in Japan in particular, with the arrival of Takashi Inui at the time. Tours have even been organized so that tourists from the Asian country can come and watch matches in a place where they would logically never have had the idea of setting foot without football. And therefore, indirectly, generate new sources of income for the club … but also for the city.
The financial repercussions after the rise of 2014 were enormous in this deindustrialised city, with a direct and indirect impact of more than 50 million euros for the region, between taxes and charges paid by the club, income related to tourism, catering and hotels and many more. Above all, the leaders of the club forced themselves to keep the traditions and create a real local identity. Before the pandemic, three times a week, players met to eat three times a week in the stadium bar, where they rubbed shoulders with all club employees, around fifty today, creating a real club culture. The creation of a training center in the coming years – Eibar is the only first division club in Spain that does not have one – also goes in this direction.
A team that has often delighted La Liga fans
The financial, social and administrative side is good. But on the ground then? Well there too, the Eibar model is brilliant. As much if it is more than in the offices. In this small Ipurua with 8,000 seats, and even 5,600 at the time of the climb, the club has always retained a very clear identity despite the passages of different coaches and players: the 4-4-2 often in the spotlight. , and some risk taking with the ball. The Armeros did not necessarily deploy an ultra-offensive game, but always offered a spectacle. There too, we found this tendency of “we fight with our weapons”, with generally very intense encounters, physical duels and a vertical style of play. An ideal context to allow many players to shine.
It is no coincidence that many quality footballers have shown themselves there, like the nugget Bryan Gil this season (on loan from Sevilla), Marc Cucurella (Barça / Getafe) before him or players like Joan Jordan (Sevilla), Ander Capa and Dani Garcia (Athletic). Not to mention David Silva and Xabi Alonso in the early 2000s. This season, the squad was indeed too tight to hold on in a championship which, paradoxically, has never been so homogeneous. Forward Kike García, whimsical midfielder Edu Exposito, defenders Esteban Burgos and Paulo Olivera, or excellent goalkeeper Marco Dmitrovic should have plenty of offers on the table this summer. And even if the status of relegated is far from ensuring a direct recovery, with a club so well structured at all levels no doubt that we will see Eibar in the elite of Spanish football soon.