July 22 – Spanish football is heading for the courts after former top-flight champions Deportivo La Coruna were controversially relegated from the second tier when their final fixture was postponed because of Covid-19.
Deportivo were due to host promotion-chasing Fuenlabrada on Monday night but several players from the Madrid-based side tested positive and the game was called off and not rescheduled.
La Liga ruled that the rest of the fixture list would still go ahead and wins for both Lugo and Albacete condemned Deportivo to the drop – even if they had won against Fuenlabrada.
Depor argued the whole round of matches should have been postponed in order for everyone to compete in equal circumstances.
“The surprise was that the rest of the games went ahead,” Deportivo president Fernando Vidal said. “It’s a very serious error by the Federation and by LaLiga. It’s a total adulteration of the competition. The whole matchday has to be repeated.”
Deportivo released a statement saying they had complained to LaLiga and to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), in which they claimed they would be taking ‘all the necessary legal action’ to defend their interests.
The Galician outfit were one of Spain’s most successful sides in the 1990s and early 2000s, when they were known as Super Depor. They won LaLiga in 2000, beat Real Madrid in the 2002 Copa del Rey final and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2004.
But in recent years things took a turn for the worse and they were relegated to Spain’s second tier in 2018. Although they came close to a return to the top flight last summer, when they lost a promotion play-off to Mallorca, they are now destined for ignominious demotion to Segunda B for the first time in 39 years.
Depor are not the first club to go to court as a result of seasons being disrupted by coronavirus.
In Scotland both Heart of Midlothian and Partick Thistle tried to have their relegations overturned, cases that have been referred to arbitration. And in France, Toulouse and Amiens also pursued legal action but ultimately failed to prevent being demoted.
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