Second descent in three years of a project that aspired to ‘Champions’


RCD Espanyol consummated its relegation to LaLiga SmartBank this Sunday, the second in just three years and which confirms the failure of the project of the largest shareholder and president Chen Yansheng, who aimed in 2016 upon his arrival at the club to be in the Champions League already establish himself in the elite of Spanish football and, on the other hand, achieved the record for the shortest time spent between two relegations.

The arrival of the Chinese businessman Chen Yansheng, owner of the Rastar Group, seemed to promise stability, clean-up of the accounts and sports enthusiasm. But, since 2016, the first team has suffered two of the six historical relegations of the entity. And this under the promise of being in the national and European elite.

“We don’t have any reference, what we want is for the club to be bigger and grow with everyone’s work. What is certain is that the city of Barcelona will be able to have two powerful clubs. I hope to have the club healthy and be in the ‘ Champions’ in less than three years,” Chen said at the time.

But the 28th president of RCD Espanyol, the first Asian to be so, had to deal with a capital increase to improve the club’s economy and, despite ensuring that it would not be necessary to sell any capital player for economic reasons and that it would be reinforced by group, the truth is that the quality of the squad did not take off at the expected level.

“We are working so that Espanyol becomes one of the best clubs in Spain. The capital increase will allow us to enjoy a healthy club that faces the coming years with ambition. Espanyol can be ambitious for the future and consider new sporting challenges that Without the necessary economic stability, they would be completely unthinkable,” the former president explained in the summer of 2016.

In the winter of 2017, a year and a half later and after running into the salary limits set by LaLiga, Chen continued to bet on the ‘Champions’: “The ‘Champions’ has always been and will be our goal and we will do our best to reach this goal In sport there are unforeseeable factors but they will not make us abandon this objective and we will continue advancing”.

A year later, in December 2018, he stressed that he would not sell his shares and that he would not abandon the ship, despite the fact that this operation to clean up the accounts was lengthy and complicated due to the impossibility of investing more money, given the restrictions in this case of the Chinese government.

And, in July 2020, the first great misfortune took place; relegation to second Espanyol, living history of LaLiga, since ‘perico’ was the author of his first goal –José ‘Pitus’ Prat–, he was the seventh classified in the historical table of the competition but he was going to ‘hell’ for the fifth time Second after a fateful season.

From that promise to play the ‘Champions’ in three years, he became a member of LaLiga SmartBank. The team responded at a sporting level and achieved promotion at the first opportunity. But, two seasons later, and with increasing criticism of Chen and his team, the relegation disaster is repeated.

To the 1962/63, 1969/70, 1989/90, 1993/94 and 2020/21 campaigns, 2023/24 will be added. Seasons in the well from which Espanyol, historically, has always known how to get out immediately. However, perhaps the project will have to be reconsidered in order, once and for all, to be able to undertake the dream of President Chen. For now, extra patience for the ‘parakeets’.