Real Club Celta de Vigo (Galician pronunciation: [reˈal ˈkluβ ˈθeltɐ ðɪ ˈβiɣʊ]; lit.'Royal Celtic Club of Vigo'), commonly known as Celta de Vigo or simply Celta, is a Spanish professional football club based in Vigo, Galicia, that competes in La Liga, the top tier of Spanish football. Nicknamed Os Celestes (The Sky Blues), the club was founded on 23 August 1923 following the merger of two Vigo-based teams. The club's home stadium is Balaídos, which seats 29,000 spectators.
R.C. Celta de Vigo was formed as a result of the ambition of Vigo's teams to achieve more at national level, where the Basque sides had been their bête noire in the Spanish Championship. The idea was to merge both teams to create a more powerful team at national level. The standard-bearer of this movement was Manuel de Castro, known as "Handicap", a sports writer for the Faro de Vigo who, from 1915, began to write in his articles about the need for a unitarian movement. The slogan of his movement was "Todo por y para Vigo" ("All for and to Vigo"), which eventually found support among the managers of Real Vigo Sporting and Real Club Fortuna de Vigo. It was backed unanimously when De Castro himself presented the motion at the assembly of the Royal Spanish Football Federation in Madrid on 22 June 1923.
On 12 July 1923, at the annual general meetings (AGMs) of Vigo and Fortuna held at the Odeon Theatre and in the Hotel Moderno, respectively, the merger was approved. Thus the "Team of Galicia" was born, as it was dubbed. In the last AGM of Fortuna and Vigo to approve the formation of a new club held on 10 August 1923, the members decided upon the team's name. Various names suggested include "Real Unión de Vigo", "Club Galicia", "Real Atlántic", "Breogán" and "Real Club Olimpico". The latter name was popular, but they eventually decided on "Real Club Celta", an ethnic race linked to Galicia. The first president of Celta was Manuel Bárcena de Andrés, the Count of Torre Cedeira. At this AGM, the squad was also decided, which numbered 64 players in total and included some notable players from both Fortuna and Vigo, and managed by Francis Cuggy.
In 2002–03, Celta came 4th under Miguel Ángel Lotina (joint best with 1948) and qualified for the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League. They went out in the last 16 to Arsenal 5–2 on aggregate. Domestically that year, the team came 19th and suffered relegation to the Segunda División. Although the squad was heavily dismantled following the demotion, Celta earned an immediate return to the top flight after finishing second in 2004–05.
In 2006–07, Celta finished in 18th and were once again relegated to the Segunda División. The team subsequently fought against relegation to the third tier, and the risk of bankruptcy. This trend was bucked in the 2010–11 season, when new striker David Rodríguez, winger Enrique de Lucas and manager Paco Herrera helped them finish sixth. They were eliminated in the first knockout round by Granada after a penalty shootout, the game having finished 1–1 in 90 minutes.
On 3 June 2012, Celta returned to La Liga after a five-year absence. In their first season back, they avoided relegation to the Segunda División on the final day after beating RCD Espanyol 1–0 to ensure a 17th-place finish.
Celta's original crest was rather simple, featuring a red shield with two stylised letter Cs (Club Celta) and the royal crown of Spain; in the year of its foundation the club became one of a number of Spanish football clubs that were granted patronage by Alfonso XIII and thus entitled to use the honorific real (Royal) in their names and the crown on their badge. The following year the shield's colour was changed to the traditional sky blue colour. Like many other Galician clubs, such as Compostela and Racing Ferrol, the crest also features the red cross of Saint James which was added in 1928. During the Spanish Second Republic (1931–1936), the honorific title and crown were removed from the club's name and crest; however, it was to return under the Spanish State.
Celta's home colours are sky blue and white. Originally, their home strip consisted of a red shirt, black shorts and blue socks. This was later changed at an unknown date to the current colours, representative of the Galician flag.
Celta had the longest-running sponsorship deal in Spanish football, and one of the longest-running in the world, with the French automobile manufacturer Citroën from 1985 to 2016. The company established its plant within walking distance from Balaídos in 1958, and had first sponsored the club's women's basketball team in 1980. In 2016, the sponsor was changed to that of Galician brewery, Estrella Galicia, which had advertised on the back of the shirts since 2011. Their business deal with kit supplier, Umbro, was also one of the longest-running ones, from 1986 to 2010.
Real Club Celta de Vigo, S.A.D. is a sociedad anónima deportiva, a public limited sports company, owned by the Spanish-Mexican businessman Carlos Mouriño, who has been the majority shareholder since May 2006 when he acquired Horacio Gómez's 39.84% shareholding in the club. He currently owns 67.9% of the club through the holding company Grupo Corporativo Ges, S.L.
In October 2016, the club was the subject of a potential 100 million euro takeover by the Chinese CITS Group.