Really good article in the Financial Times on a La Liga favorite of mine….
Inside Athletic Bilbao: the football club playing by its own rules
By picking players only from one region, the club are a defiant outlier in a game transformed by globalisation
While modern sport obsesses over the use of science and statistics to unlock a winning formula, Athletic stand alone in offering a different answer. It is led more by faith than logic. The club reckon that devotion to a cause — a belief in Basque exceptionalism — can create a successful football team.
The evidence is compelling. Among the founder members of La Liga, Spain’s top league, the giants of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are the only others never to be relegated. Indeed, the club are one of Spain’s most successful, having won the league eight times.
Though Athletic have not won a major trophy such as La Liga or Copa del Rey, the Spanish cup competition, since 1984, they have remained a competitive force. Over the past decade, they have performed well enough to qualify for European competition on seven occasions, reaching the Europa League final in 2012.