The final night of football before summer will unravel the one big unknown yet to be resolved this season: whether Girona FC or CD Tenerife UD will accompany Almería and Real Valladolid CF on their return to the elite. The goalless draw in the first leg of the promotion final left everything open for this Sunday. For the Catalans, the win would be some sort of redemption for the defeats they’ve suffered in each of their five appearances in the promotion play-offs. For the Canaries, who play as locals, the win would be the culmination of a party that began earlier in the year to commemorate their centenary and lasted until just days ago when they ousted their biggest rivals UD Las Palmas, on the way to glory. But beyond the futures of both teams, the fate of two towns and around 300,000 residents is also at stake in the 90 minutes – around 250,000 in Santa Cruz, Tenerife and just over 100,000 in Girona – convinced a favorable result would make them happier and happier will lead to a more prosperous future economically, socially and emotionally.
Girona journalist Nil Solà can confirm this because it happened to him back in 2017. The first promotion in the club’s history from his hometown gave him the opportunity to break into the job he still holds to this day. “I did information for the agency Ephwhen I was still a student, and that summer he signed me world of sports To become a correspondent for Girona,” he reveals. Thanks to the increased media attention of top-flight football, the 20-year-old was able to devote himself fully to his craft for the first time. For two seasons he happily recounted epic moments, like beating Real Madrid at Montilivi Stadium, until 2019’s relegation drastically limited his presence and opportunities in the medium in which he collaborates. A promotion this weekend, which could also coincide with that of the local basketball team, would be a personal and professional joy that he could also share with his father, another journalist career Catalunya Radio with the shipments of the rojiblancos. “He used to take me to the fields when I was little and together [en la zona de prensa] We have embraced, laughed and cried the victories and disappointments of recent years. It was very emotional.”
The careers of the two members of the Solà family have evolved in the same way as a team that in less than two decades has gone from tier three to a struggle to be among the best. Of course, they are not the only ones who benefit from the advantages of having a suitable sports facility at home. A year after joining LaLiga Santander, Girona’s Chamber of Commerce estimated football’s additional contribution at €22.5 million in terms of direct contribution to the economy, boosting the service sector and the media effect of increasing the city’s visibility. An aspect in which Josep Carreras, President of the Association of Hospitality, Tourism and Restoration of Girona, plays a role. “We want to make people want to come here, be it because of the cultural, gastronomic or sporting opportunities. The promotion that promoting the Girona brand meant cannot be paid for with money,” explains this hotelier and member of the local team, demonstrating the intertwining of football and tourism. “Since then, many hotels have offered the possibility of reserving one or more nights and buying tickets for a game on the same website.”
The same is happening more than 2,500 kilometers from the Catalan city, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where retailers or restaurateurs are already rubbing their hands over a possible triumph. This is the case of Shamira Chamseldein, owner of a tobacconist, and El Rincón del Tete, a cafeteria where city team players like Victor Mollejo, Álex Muñoz or Sergio González sometimes have breakfast. 12 years ago, Chamseldein opened the canteen. Almost as much time has passed since the side were last in the top flight, although they remember it like it was yesterday: “You could see the difference in customers between games every 15 days when the games were played on the island”. So much so that the football days were a “double or triple” income.
“Be [en la élite] It’s an economic boost for businesses in the region and the island in general,” says Chamseldein, who defends that “even in the Silver category, Tenerife still has the best fans”. It was precisely the passion and emotion of the fans that made this businessman fall in love with the team when she came to Spain from Venezuela 22 years ago. Since then, his shop has become a meeting place to watch the Chicharrero team’s games and he has already reserved all the tables for Sunday’s return. However, she will not go to El Rincón del Tete that day, but to the only place she can think of: cheering on the field. “I have to work on the day of the game, but I’m a member and I intend to go to the stadium to see it.”
Football’s impact on the city and the island’s economy is so important that even those who have left the love of the sport a little behind want Tenerife to emerge victorious. “Having a team in the elite is not only subordinate to the city, but also to the island and even the Canary Islands,” says Abbas Moujir, president of the Federation of Urban Areas of Tenerife (Fauca).
Moujir recalls that the city team’s greatest period was in the 1990s, when they played at least 10 consecutive seasons in the elite and played in the old UEFA Cup. A study by the University of La Laguna then put the effect of this good sporting course at 3,000 million pesetas (18,030,363 euros). “If we transfer what happened then to a possible promotion of Tenerife, the city council of Santa Cruz expects an effect of around 25 million euros.” The city expects a larger influx of visitors, which is already evident when the tickets are sold out signed for the final second leg in just 15 minutes. “In the elite, the stadium will be filled with every game,” explains Moujir.
The value of pride for some colors
In reality, the economic benefits are only part of the hopes residents and fans of both cities have for the possibility of promotion. Before the word money or profit, an appeal to “pride” usually appears first, and then repeatedly. In Girona, where in about 15 days you can witness the double rise of local football and basketball teams to the elite, this intangible has led to prints that were “unthinkable a few years ago”, such as the fact that the Red-Red Shirts outperform azulgranas on the streets and in schools, Solà explains. And in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, reveals Fernando Pinazo, a digital journalist Atlantic today Y The back and a fan of the chicharrero team, this weekend’s event managed to bring “a lot of colour” to a city awaiting (and very excited) a result, with flags on the balconies.
This is the joy, the overflow of feelings, that comes from a promotion that leads some to rash decisions and actions to do whatever it takes to live them. A few days ago, the Girona team’s equipment man, Josep Maria Luis, stated in EL PAÍS that he would postpone his retirement if the team were promoted. And when fan Javier Padrón saw Tenerife live in the top flight for the first time in 2010, he did something even more unusual for a fan: change color.
The 18-year-old Tenerife native and then FC Barcelona fan was five years old when his father, a Las Palmas fan, took him to Heliodoro Rodríguez López to watch the culé team play. However, what his father didn’t expect was that his son would give up his passion for Barça and become their eternal rival. “Tenerife lost 5-0 to Barça and instead of being happy, I was very sad and started crying,” recalled the young man. It was at that moment that a lady next to him in the stands presented him with the local team’s scarf. And everything changed. “It’s in my blood, Tenerife is a part of me,” he says.
He knows that, he explains, because the days his team plays are never bad. “When Tenerife plays, you get up differently. He recently played on Monday, which we already know is always difficult to start the week and when I woke up that day I thought ‘Tenerife are playing today’ and the day is going well”. Despite this, he comments that the team has had bad times and thinks he deserves a promotion. “It’s the opportunity to go to our stadium in the anniversary year and after the victory over Las Palmas,” says Padrón, who already expects the celebrations to follow the carnival, which has been suspended for several years due to the pandemic. “It would be great, just perfect.”