Madrid, Dec 28 (IANS) Aitor Elizegi is the new President of Athletic Club Bilbao after being voted in as the successor to Josu Urrutia by the club’s members.
The Bilbao born chef and businessman becomes the 32nd president in the club’s history after winning the closest vote in Athletic’s 120-year existence, reports Xinhua news agency.
He beat Alberto Uribe-Echevarria, who had been a member of Urrutia’s Board of Directors and the former club accountant, by just 85 votes, with 9,264 votes in favour and 9,179 for Uribe-Echevarria, while there were 781 blank votes and 116 void votes returned.
Perhaps due to the day the election had been scheduled for and the lack of enthusiasm among the fans for either of the candidates, just 46 percent of Athletic’s members voted.
Elizegi claimed the votes of younger supporters and has promised to work to improve the atmosphere in Athletic’s San Mames Stadium, while at the same time retaining the club’s historic policy of signing only players born or raised as footballers in the Basque region of northern Spain and the south-west corner of France.
Along with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, Athletic is one of just three clubs in the Liga Santander which are nominally the property of their supporters and which elect a president every four years, although Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has changed the conditions for any prospective rivals that effectively nobody can now challenge his authority.
Elizegi takes over the presidency of Athletic in a situation where it is fourth from bottom in the Liga Santander and his first challenge will be to try and strengthen the squad in January.