Athletic Bilbao B
|Full name||Athletic Club|
|Nickname(s)||Los Leones / Lehoiak|
Los Cachorros / Katxorroak
|Ground||Lezama (Field 2)|
|Head coach||Joseba Etxeberria|
|League||2ª B – Group 2|
|2018–19||2ª B – Group 2, 6th|
Bilbao Athletic, officially named Athletic Club "B", is the reserve team of Athletic Bilbao, a football club based in Bilbao, in the autonomous community of Basque Country. The team will play in the Segunda División B in the 2019–20 season. Founded in 1964, the team holds home matches at the small stadium attached to the club's training facility at Lezama, holding 3,250 spectators or occasionally at San Mamés Stadium, with its 53,500-seat capacity, for important fixtures.
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; most of the top Athletic players had joined the Euzkadi XI, a team put together at the suggestion of José Antonio Aguirre, the president of the Basque Country (and himself a former Athletic Bilbao footballer). Euzkadi went on tour to raise funds for the Basque cause, and also played in the Mexican domestic league. However, at home the Campeonato de Vizcaya had resumed in 1938. With their best players abroad with Euzkadi, Athletic could only field weakened sides and, to avoid possible shameful results damaging the club's reputation, chose to enter under the name Bilbao Athletic (the name was derived from the two clubs that merged in 1903 to become Athletic Bilbao – Bilbao Football Club and Athletic Club). Despite the low expectations, they still won the championship and entered the 1939 Copa del Generalísimo.
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 who 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 three 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 have competed in the Premier League International Cup (an Under-23 tournament, all matches splayed in England), with most of the players selected for their squad drawn from Bilbao Athletic plus some younger additions from Basconia and the Juvenil squads (the rules permit the use of a limited number of overage players, but Athletic do not use them). In 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 the club qualified from their group but were eliminated in the quarter-finals, while in the 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 editions, they bowed out at the group stage.
- 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 (1991–2006)
- Bilbao Athletic (2006–)
Season to season
- As farm team
- As reserve team
- Before the start of the competition
- 14 seasons in Segunda División
- 30 seasons in Segunda División B
- 10 seasons in Tercera División
- 2 seasons in Categorías Regionales
- As of 9 October 2019
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Segunda División B:[a] 1982–83,[b] 1988–89[b]
- Tercera División:[a] 1966–67,[c] 1968–69[d]
- Biscay Championship: 1938–39
- Javier Clemente
- Agustín Gaínza
- José Ángel Iribar
- Rafa Iriondo
- Ignacio Izagirre (284 matches)
- Iñaki Sáez (290 matches, record)
- José Ángel Ziganda (242 matches)
Note: this list contains players who have appeared in at least 100 games for the first team.
- "Athletic: El campo 2 de Lezama sube su aforo hasta los 3.250 espectadores". Mundo Deportivo. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
- "Bilbao Athletic history". Athletic Bilbao. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "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). EFE. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
- "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.
- "Report: Swans U23 0 Athletic Bilbao B 2". Swansea City A.F.C. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- BILBAO ATHLETIC 2019-20; Athletic's official website
- "El "Cuco" Ziganda agranda su trayectoria deportiva - Navarra Deportiva" [The "Cuco" Ziganda enlarges his sports career] (in Spanish). 29 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- 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)