The Spanish second division used to be a bit rubbish, although a sniffy LÃ¢ÂÂEquipe claims that it still is by branding the BBVA sponsored barndance the fourth worst second tier of EuropeÃ¢ÂÂs big five, based on quality of players, attendances and crispiness of the croissants.La Segunda was once the home of teams who could have been contenders or the second string sides of the likes of Real Madrid.This season the only feeder side in the division is SevillaÃ¢ÂÂs, although that may not be for much longer considering they are currently bottom of the pile with just 10 points from 22 games.Instead, the league is starting to resemble EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs Championship with some big names from the past littering the streets of La Segunda.
Levante protest over unpaid wages... last season
And this is partly due to many of the sides promoted in recent years managing to survive more than one season - the likes of AlmerÃÂa, Valladolid, Getafe and Recreativo - and being replaced by big guns falling on very hard times indeed.
Real Sociedad, Celta Vigo, Albacete and Rayo Vallecano have all been Primera performers in recent years, along with the three most recent sides who fell through the trap door into a division which is not so much cut-throat as hammer your knees with a four-by-four before you can find your bearings.Of those, Zaragoza are performing the best on and off the pitch - in the sense that they donÃ¢ÂÂt appear to be in administration or plummeting even further down La LigaÃ¢ÂÂs ladder.MarcelinoÃ¢ÂÂs men are currently in fourth place but their chances of bouncing straight back have been given a setback by the financially necessary move of flogging Ricardo Oliveira to Betis for cold hard cash - a very useful item in a league where TV money, sponsorship and general interest is pretty much non-existent.Zaragoza have managed to hang on to many of their Primera Ã¢ÂÂstarsÃ¢ÂÂ such as Ayala and Gabi, although it is heartening to see that blog favourite Arizmendi started SundayÃ¢ÂÂs game against Levante on the bench.And itÃ¢ÂÂs Levante who are the leagueÃ¢ÂÂs success story so far this season. They may be jammed mid-table in 11th place but itÃ¢ÂÂs the fact that they are using SpainÃ¢ÂÂs outrageously liberal tax and debt collection laws to exist that is a modern wonder of the world. Their plight is still so precarious and their survival abilities so strong that even after an airborne nuclear explosion over Valencia, the club would be happily leaving its players unpaid.An administratorÃ¢ÂÂs report was published recently which showed the sorry, scandalous nature of LevanteÃ¢ÂÂs situation. The document detailed that the club - on January 12 - owed money to 128 footballers, 25 physios, 17 coaches, six scouts, five media organisations and two local councils.And a paella firm who are still waiting for an invoice for 1,700 euro to be paid. And not to mention the clubÃ¢ÂÂs stadium announcer.Broken down, LevanteÃ¢ÂÂs bean counters have to find 28,747,336.54 euro to hand over to the taxman, 12.28m and 4.98m euro to two banks and 1.2m to poor old Damiano Tomassi, who is currently at QPR where he must be a very angry man, indeed.Such is the chaos on the east coast that Marca revealed over the weekend that a footballer nearly joined Levante without the club actually realising it.Javier Dorado from Mallorca was at the airport waiting for his big move to across the Med before receiving a call from the clubÃ¢ÂÂs technical secretary with some bad news.
Dorado: "I believe you've been expecting me? No?"
Ã¢ÂÂI had to explain to him that no-one at the club knew anything about his signing,Ã¢ÂÂ admitted Manolo Salvador blaming the interference of a rogue agent.
The third of the clubÃ¢ÂÂs that dropped down from La Primera last season, Murcia, are in 15th but a gnatÃ¢ÂÂs knapsack away from falling into administration, a situation that is beginning to have an affect in the dressing room according to slaphead club captain JosÃÂ© Maria Movilla.Just a fun taste of the life to come for Mallorca, Espanyol and Osasuna if they donÃ¢ÂÂt get their acts together over the next four months.