On one occasion, Girona came within three minutes of a first ever promotion to the top tier of Spanish football, before having their dream snatched away. Then, on June 4, 2017, the Catalan club finally secured the prize they’d been chasing for so long.
The 2018/19 campaign is just the second ever season in the top division for the club that was founded in 1930 and that had spent most of its existence in the lower leagues of Spanish football. After such a long wait, it was fully prepared for the new challenge.
Stage one: survival
Delfí Geli, President of Girona FC, remarked: “We started to prepare the stadium in order to make it ready for the top division and we started to make all of the necessary improvements in the sporting side of things to try to build a competitive side.”
“That was the objective of the club at that time, to stay up and to establish ourselves in the division.”
However, Girona has not behaved like a club that is only focused on survival. In its maiden LaLiga Santander season the club finished in 10th and enjoyed some historic results along the way, such as drawing twice with Atlético Madrid and defeating Real Madrid 2-1 at the Estadi Montilivi stadium.
It did so while avoiding the temptation to completely overhaul the squad, instead focusing on incremental improvements to how the club is run.
“Little by little we have been able to professionalise the club by creating the necessary departments for things to work. Now we’re in the process of growing the departments that we created,” Geli continued.
Stage two: A new following
Now in its second top-flight season, Girona is thinking about the next stage of its development, the fan base. “We need to convince all of the people from this province to make Girona their club,” Geli stressed.
“Girona is increasingly a club for young kids. Having their idols so close, where they can see them on the streets, encourages more young people and families to support Girona first and foremost.”
To achieve this Girona plans to evolve its style of play, keep the same core of players at the club and get the most out of the young players from its academy. New training methods have been introduced, along with a clear philosophy of football for its past and present stars to follow.
Off the pitch, this is expected to build stronger links with the local population and beyond, giving the club a clear identity that can form the basis of a strong brand.
Stage three: The world
Looking further ahead, Geli has his sights set on internationalisation, using the carefully-built identity of the club to win followers in new regions. The President intends to achieve this through continued partnership with LaLiga, with which it recently conducted a trip to India.
“We follow the growth path of LaLiga,” Geli said. “For us, travelling to India was something we considered as a unique opportunity that allowed us to boost our visibility, growth and expansion. We will keep trying to make the most of any opportunity to boost our visibility abroad.
“We think this is very important and we think we can keep growing alongside LaLiga.”
It is easy to see the club’s ambitions, but Geli is also clear about the need to stay true to Girona’s identity, growing in a careful and measured way in full cooperation with its fanbase.
“We want to be very realistic about who we are and where we’re going,” he said. “We are a club that has only just arrived in the top division. But our projects will allow us to build a better team so that our fans can keep growing with us, can stay excited and can continue to enjoy many years of top-division football here in our stadium.”