FC Andorra: Gerard Pique’s minnows only one promotion from La Liga

FC Andorra had been purchased by Gerard Pique’s Kosmos Holdings in 2019 as a fifth-tier membership

Gerard Pique could also be getting into the twilight of his taking part in days at Barcelona, ​​however his profession as a membership proprietor is actually beginning to take off.

FC Andorra had been purchased by Pique’s Kosmos Holdings in 2019 as a fifth-tier membership. Practically 4 years later, they’re within the second tier of Spanish soccer, La Liga 2.

After eight video games they’ve 14 factors and sit in sixth place, a play-off spot. Early days, however a unprecedented fourth promotion in 5 seasons – and a gathering with Pique’s Barcelona – is just not off the playing cards.

President Ferran Villaseca you’ve got extolled the “nice potential” of FC Andorra. It’s honest to say that it’s beginning to be realized.

“We’re very pleased and excited by how we’ve carried out in the previous couple of years, it has been an astonishing accomplishment,” Villaseca, talking on the World Soccer Summit in Seville, tells BBC Sport.

“We now have realized a part of our dream, we’ve a really robust sporting division – we now have to have that within the youth groups, and the membership itself, the membership construction.”

FC Andorra had been based in 1942 and joined the Spanish league system six years later, however had by no means performed above the third tier till 2022-23.

Till December 2018, the membership had been drifting within the regional leagues. Then Kosmos took over, inspiring a right away upturn in type. Andorra received the fifth-tier First Catalan Division in 2018-19 on the ultimate day.

This was when their wealthy new house owners actually began to repay. A spot within the third-tier Segunda B opened up as CF Reus Deportiu had been relegated amid monetary issues.

Andorra had been in a position to pay to take Reus’ membership license for practically half 1,000,000 Euros, assuming their place within the Spanish league pyramid and securing a extremely uncommon double promotion.

“We now have additionally had some luck,” admits Villaseca. “We pursued our luck, we had been all the time aiming to be fortunate.”

‘We now have grown too quick!’

The velocity of Andorra’s rise has left Villaseca scrambling to make sure their infrastructure can maintain tempo with the on-pitch efficiency.

Essentially the most obvious instance is the Estadi Nacional floor they share with Andorra’s nationwide soccer group. It has a capability of three,306 – smaller than all however one within the third tier of Spanish soccer, not to mention the second.

A brand new 6,000-capacity, €26 million stadium is within the pipeline, however Villaseca has additionally been laborious at work rising the membership behind the scenes.

“We now have to develop in human sources,” he says. “We centered on sporting expertise, now we’re making acquisitions within the administrative departments. A brand new advertising and marketing director, industrial director, a monetary director.

“The membership was within the fifth tier, and it was like that in any respect ranges – we solely had three individuals. So we have to develop in that route, and within the infrastructure – we have to construct our personal coaching services.

“As Andorra, we do not have a lot – we aren’t a powerhouse, we’re a small village in the course of the mountains so we’ve to supply one thing totally different. We have to supply gamers the very best quality of sporting dwelling, that is essential.

“We now have probably the greatest taking part in pitches in Spain – a hybrid of turf and synthetic, it is heated which not one of the different golf equipment within the second tier have – however the coaching services are all synthetic, and he [sporting director Jaume Nogues] stated: ‘I can not supply that, we want high quality coaching services or no-one will likely be prepared to hitch’.

“We have to make the membership a second division membership, and in some locations we’re nonetheless far-off. It takes time – we’ve grown too quick!”

‘Our DNA is just like Barcelona’

FC Andorra's stadium
Andorra’s stadium solely has a capability of roughly 3,000 individuals

Below Pique’s possession, the hyperlinks to Barcelona have been demonstrated by his selections of supervisor. Former team-mate Gabri oversaw the rise to the third tier, whereas ex-Barca B participant Nacho Castro coached the membership for slightly below a yr till January 2021.

This was when Eder Sarabia – who served as quantity two to Quique Setien throughout his temporary spell at Barcelona – was employed to his first senior managerial function, guiding Andorra to the second division 18 months later for the primary time of their historical past.

A 1-0 win at dwelling to UCAM Murcia sparked wild celebrations, and noticed Sarabia come good on a promise to cycle from Andorra to Bilbao ought to promotion be secured.

“After Barcelona we had loads of choices however after Gerard’s [Pique] name, I analyzed the venture and I noticed that I had made the correct alternative and I’m very excited,” Sarabia tells BBC Sport.

“Above all, it’s a household membership, I just like the membership mannequin, the administration and the ambition to develop, with agency and stable steps and to have the ability to do necessary issues.

“It has been quick, on the sphere we’ve superior and grown loads and we’re getting stronger in each means.”

Villaseca provides: “We understood what we needed, and from a sporting route created a DNA round that. Whenever you play FC Andorra you know how we play, it’s just like Barcelona DNA. We now have been very clear since day one with the coaches we have had, and so we’ve had no points adjusting among the many gamers and workers.

“Culturally, Andorra is similar to Barcelona – we’re neighbors to Catalonia, and Barcelona is probably the most adopted group in Andorra.

“Additionally the way in which we need to play, the gamers who understood it greatest had been former Barcelona gamers, so we recognized gamers who left Barca, possibly they’ve left to play overseas, we seize these gamers and use the talents they realized in Barcelona. We piggyback on their time within the youth squads in Barcelona.”

Andorra’s dramatic rise has not been with out controversy. The European micronation has decrease revenue tax ranges than Spain, that means gamers had been paying 10 per cent if their contracts had been greater than €300,000 per yr, in comparison with 47 per cent for golf equipment within the mainland.

Now underneath the management of La Liga, new guidelines have been introduced in forcing them to restrict the price of their squad on a par with their Spanish counterparts.

“We do not like them, they aren’t honest in any respect,” says Villaseca. “Spain is a rustic which doesn’t have a unified tax system, so for one group these guidelines apply and for the others not. We’re simply finding out what we must always do subsequent.”

‘We’re not simply Pique’s nook of Andorra’

To this point Andorra have been bloodying the noses of the anticipated promotion candidates. Dwelling victories over Granada, Eibar and Levante have confirmed Sarabia’s group are far more than a well-known proprietor’s vainness venture.

They’ve some former Barca youth gamers impressing, akin to middle again Mika Marmol and midfielder Jandro Orellana. Up high Sinan Bakis, a summer time acquisition from Dutch facet Heracles, leads the membership scoring charts.

“We see the kind of gamers we want, not the very best ones, however probably the most appropriate ones with a particular profile and assessing how they behave on and off the sphere,” Sarabia says.

“Our aims are to play excellent soccer and that the sport leads us to our objectives, which is to consolidate our place within the league and proceed to develop.”

The Pique connection has been the side of FC Andorra which has drawn probably the most consideration, however Villaseca is at pains to level out the membership has an identification in its personal proper.

“We attempt to keep away from simply being Pique’s nook of Andorra,” he says. “Gerard loves the venture however he isn’t concerned within the day after day – he’s there to rejoice when the nice issues occur, and likewise to assist when choices should be made.

“One of many issues we love to do is figure on statistics – Gerard loves his statistics, we’re very a lot concerned within the Moneyball model of recruitment.

“He likes to present his opinion on the sporting route, he’s a footballer in any case and he says what he thinks. However it’s extra as a fan than a supervisor, his major enterprise is taking part in for Barcelona.”

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