They may have finished the 2014-15 season 13th in La Liga, but off the pitch, the dire financial situation at Elche has finally cost them their place in the Spanish top-flight.
On Friday, the news Elche fans have feared for some time now, became a reality, with the announcement the club has been sanctioned with administrative relegation.
Via their official website, the LFP made the following official statement:
LaLiga would like to issue the following notice:
- The LaLiga Social Discipline Judge has issued a ruling on Case 28/2014-15, brought against Elche CF SAD, as a result of the aforementioned institution's debts with the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT).
- Following the ruling issued by the judge appointed to look into the case, the Social Discipline Judge has agreed to impose upon Elche CF the sanction of relegation from LaLiga in view of the recidivism in the case, given that the club had been sanctioned both last season and this season as a result of serious infractions committed, in accordance with LaLiga's Law of Sport and Company Statutes. Likewise, the abovementioned ruling carries an added penalty for Elche CF, in the form of a fine amounting to 180,303.63 euros.
- For this purpose, the ruling states that, at present, Elche CF has liquid, overdue, and payable debt owed to the State Tax Administration Agency (AEAT. This debt that has not been paid, deferred, or secured, as shown by the State Tax Administration Agency.
Presiding over the case over recent weeks, this decision comes from LFP Social Dicipline Judge, Manuel Rivero, who clearly felt that even with assurances from the new board of Elche and president Juan Anguix, that the club could no longer fulfil its financial obligations in the Spanish top-flight.
The ruling is set to be challenged by Elche, although with debts reportedly in excess of €15 million, both to the State Tax Administration Agency, along with players and staff, those debts would need to be paid in their entirety.
Whilst Elche are expected to exhaust all avenues with appeals against the ruling, the LFP appear to be standing firm on their regulations and enforcing their Financial Fair Play guidelines, to the maximum.
There are now also serious fears that Elche could even fold as a result of this decision by the LFP, as raising the funds needed to cover existing debts with creditors, could prove to be extremely difficult.
If the club cannot make further financial assurances ahead of competing in the Segunda next season, they could even face a further demotion to Segunda B, the Spanish third-tier.
Amidst the uncertainty now surrounding the future of Elche, or even knowing what division they'll play in next season, Diario Franjiverde reported that this morning, advertising boards promoting season ticket sales for the 2015-16 season, were being removed from around the Martinez Valero stadium.
Meanwhile, the news comes as a huge boost to modest Basque club Eibar, who were relegated on the final day of the season in La Liga, finishing third from bottom. They will now stay in the Spanish top-flight for another season.
In contrast and despite the difficulties of doing so for such a small club, Eibar have managed to build a sustainable financial model, leading for their calls for La Liga to stand true to their financial regulations, in the case of Elche.