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Spanish minnows bank on fans’ Scottish spirit

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A tiny Spanish football team are hoping their Scottish connection will help them rub shoulders with Real Madrid and Barcelona.

SD Eibar have already secured promotion to La Liga and could clinch the Segunda Division Championship by winning at Numancia tonight.

But the footballing fairytale from a club that averages just over 3000 spectators could be over before it starts.

Spanish law says that teams must have capital that equals 25% of the average expenses. Eibar have 422,253 Euros but need a minimum of 2.1 million.

Being the smallest centre of population of any professional team in Spain means that is a massive task.

The debt-free club are set to launch a share issue this summer, but if that fails they could be sent down to the Third Division.

The Scottish influence was seen when piper John Stewart was asked to lead the promotion celebrations last weekend. John, who played the bagpipes at the funeral of golfer Seve

Ballesteros, led a group of fans who call themselves ‘Escocia la Brava’ the Scotland the Brave Supporters Club.

John explained: “The locals’ love of Scotland started when a group of Eibar fans went to a Scotland rugby international at Murrayfield in 2001.

“They loved the way the Scots continued to support their team even though they were losing. In Spain it’s very different. If a team is 1-0 down, the fans tend to get on their backs.

“The guys from Eibar came home with a new way of supporting their team and with some souvenirs of Scotland kilts and ginger ‘See You Jimmy’ wigs!

“It really took off and now they wave Scotland flags and have a Scotland the Brave mural on the side of the stadium.

“Their success on the pitch is remarkable. They only came up from the Third Division a year ago. The town only has a population of 27,000 that’s less than my hometown of Falkirk.

“Getting promoted to take on teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid is like Partick Thistle winning the European Cup.”

John, who lives 50km away in Vitoria, had to switch allegiance for a night when he took centre stage in the victory parade.

He went on: “I was asked to tie an Eibar scarf to my pipes as I led the parade. I’ve never seen anything like it. the town centre was packed and players happily mixed with all the supporters.

“I’m hoping they might be able to forge closer links with Scotland. My sister has a Highland dress hire business and I’ve suggested to them that creating an Eibar tartan might be a good idea!”