Athletic Bilbao B
|Full name||Athletic Club|
|Nickname(s)||Los Leones / Lehoiak
Los Cachorros / Katxorroak
|League||2ª B – Group 2|
|2016–17||2ª B – Group 2, 8th|
Bilbao Athletic, officially named Athletic Club "B" is the reserve team of Athletic Bilbao, club based in Bilbao, in the autonomous community of Basque Country. The team will play in the Segunda División B in the 2016-17 season, following relegation from the second tier in the previous campaign. Founded in 1964, the team holds home matches at the San Mamés, with a 53,500-seat capacity, or at the small stadium attached to the club's training facility at Lezama.
Reserve teams in Spain play in the same football pyramid as their senior team rather than a separate league. However, reserves cannot play in the same division as their senior team. Therefore, Bilbao Athletic are ineligible for promotion to La Liga. Reserve teams are also no longer permitted to enter the Copa del Rey. In addition, only under-23 players, or under-25 with a professional contract, can switch between senior and reserve teams. In recent years most of Bilbao Athletic's players have been graduates from the club's youth setup ('cantera') via the farm team, Basconia.
The Bilbao Athletic name was first used in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, when both La Liga and the Copa del Rey were suspended; several of top Athletic players subsequently joined the Euskadi XI. This team was put together at the suggestion of José Antonio Aguirre, the president of the Basque Country, himself a former Athletic Bilbao footballer.
The team went on tour to raise funds for the Basque cause, and also played in Europe and Mexico. However, the Campeonato de Vizcaya continued to be played. With their best players on tour with the Basque national team, Athletic Bilbao could only field weakened sides and, as a result, chose to enter under the name Bilbao Athletic. Despite this, they still won the championship; the club's name was derived from the two clubs that merged in 1903 to become Athletic Bilbao – Bilbao Football Club and Athletic Club.
The name was revived in 1964, when Athletic Bilbao decided to establish a reserve team with Agustín Gaínza as coach. The new Bilbao Athletic initially played in local regional leagues before winning promotion to Tercera División in 1966, under Rafa Iriondo; in 1969 they first reached Segunda División.
In 1983–84, with José Ángel Iribar as coach, and an emerging Julio Salinas as striker, the reserves finished in second place, only trailing Castilla CF; both teams were ineligible for promotion, and Salinas won the Pichichi.
Bilbao Athletic dropped back down to the third level in 1996, but the main squad continued to be nurtured with several players which had spells with the reserves.
After 19 seasons in the Segunda División B, Bilbao Athletic returned to the second tier after defeating Cádiz CF, 3–1 on aggregate, in the promotion playoffs. However in their campaign in the Segunda they were reliant on the same group, a core squad of 20-year-olds who had never played at such a high level before, and despite battling performances in most of their games, a pattern of narrow defeats led to the team finishing bottom and being relegated back down at the first attempt. Somewhat ironically, the promoted teams that season were CD Leganés whose squad included 3 players on loan from Athletic who would have been eligible to play for Bilbao Athletic that season, as well as the parent club's local rivals Alavés and Osasuna.
Premier League International Cup
Athletic successfully applied to compete in the 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 versions of the England-based Premier League International Cup (each time they qualified from their group but were eliminated in the first knockout round). Most of Athletic's players in this Under-23 tournament have been drawn from Bilbao Athletic with some additions from Basconia and the Juvenil group.
- As farm team:
- Club Atlético de Bilbao Amateur (1964–66)
- Bilbao Atlético Club (1966–72)
- Bilbao Athletic Club (1972–91)
- As reserve team:
- Athletic Club B (1991–)
Season to season
- As farm team
- As reserve team
- 14 seasons in Segunda División
- 27 seasons in Segunda División B
- 10 seasons in Tercera División
- 2 seasons in Categorías Regionales
- As of 21 August 2017
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Biscay Championship: 1938–39
- Segunda División B: 1982–83, 1988–89
- Tercera División: 1966–67, 1968–69
Note: this list contains players who have appeared in at least 100 league games for the first team or have reached international status.
- "El Bilbao Athletic, a Segunda 19 años después y el Cádiz tendrá que esperar" [Bilbao Athletic, into Segunda 19 years later and Cadiz will have to wait] (in Spanish). La Razón. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- "El Bilbao Athletic empata contra Osasuna y pierde la categoría" [Bilbao Athletic draw with Osasuna and lose the category] (in Spanish). El Correo. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- BILBAO ATHLETIC 2017-18; Athletic's official website
- Team history at Athletic Bilbao's official website
- Futbolme team profile (in Spanish)
- La Cantera De Lezama - Unofficial website focusing on Athletic’s youth teams (in Spanish)