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UDINESE REACH LA LIGA AND A BRIEF HISTORY OF GRANADA – Part One | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

UDINESE REACH LA LIGA AND A BRIEF HISTORY OF GRANADA – Part One

By Alex Bromley

Before La Liga kicks off for real in the coming weeks, it is worth getting a brief insight into one of the new boys and so here is a brief background of football in the old Moorish capital….

Granada CF, one of the ‘lesser’ teams in Andalucia, have not seen Spanish top flight football since 1976. Now, after a 35 year wait, they have finally made it back in with the big boys; Manchester City fans can probably sympathise with such a prolonged period of expectation.

After being relegated from La Liga three-and-a-half decades ago, Granada ambled their way through the league system; shifting up and down, but staying buoyant (albeit occasionally in the 4th division) without causing any major waves. In fact aside from one La Liga Pichichi and a couple of friendly trophies, the club have hardly won anything of note at all.

The club has re-emerged however, and owes much of it’s progress not to the current manager Fabri Gonzalez, but instead to a 42-year-old entrepreneur by the name of Quique Pina who was the club’s chairman during the last campaign. Pina once played in the Spanish lower divisions himself until his not-so-lucrative career was cut short by injury.

He took the opportunity to become an agent to the modern throng of talent, including the Barca-bound Alexis Sanchez, but has also previously been agent to Christian Vieri and Roman Riquelme.

In 1999 Pina formed his own club Ciudad de Murcia (thus creating the second best team in a City not renowned for it’s footballing prowess). However Ciudad were competent and successful, rising quickly through the Spanish pyramid with Pina using his contacts as an agent to sign experienced, but generally ‘past it’ players on the cheap.

Ciudad soon found themselves in the second division when, in 2007, Pina sold the club to the self-proclaimed Football ‘tycoon’ Carlos Marsa for a relatively low fee. Then Marsa, being the incredibly sensible man that he was, sold Ciudad Murcia’s stadium and moved the club to, of all places, Granada where the new club ‘Granada 74’ was formed from the ashes of Ciudad Murcia.

The idea was to dissolve one club and use the funds from the stadium sale to buy Granada 74 the place in the second division left vacant by Ciudad Murcia. The plan back-fired though when the local council refused Granada 74 the right to ground-share with Granada CF who, ironically was now under the Presidency of… Quique Pina.

Having thrown all of his toys out of the proverbial pram while kicking and screaming, Marsa stated “I’m 57, not an 18-year-old” and decided that the only way to get the League and FIFA to intervene was to go on a good old-fashioned hunger strike until he got what he wanted.

Find out about the Udinese connection this afternoon…




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