Racing Santander have been banned from next season’s Copa Del Rey, after their protest saw last night’s quarter final abandoned.
Racing were the lowest placed team left in the competition, but their story wasn’t to have a happy ending. Racing are a club in financial turmoil. As recently as 2008 they were La Liga big hitters, fighting for a European spot. It’s been a tale of mismanagement, on and off the pitch, since then. They now languish in the third tier of Spanish football.
The Santander players and staff haven’t been paid in seven months. Last night,with the spotlight on their big match against Real Sociedad, they made an amazing decision.
The players warmed up as normal, and were on the field when Sociedad kicked off. It was then that the Racing team downed tools. They stood motionless, arm in arm. A bemused Sociedad passed the ball between themselves. Realising the farcical nature of the situation, they kicked the ball out. Racing remained motionless, and the referee called the game off.
Sociedad effectively get a bye to play Barcelona, but they would have won the tie anyway. Racing Santander have been banned from next year’s Copa but a bigger threat looms. Will they be able to fulfill their Liga commitments, or is it the end for this once proud club?
On a night when players will change hands for tens of millions of Euros, it’s a sobering thought.