Why it won’t be Barça v Barça next season

If you apply a couple of tweaks to our universe - and to the one inhabited by Marca for good measure - then we’d all be enjoying Barcelona and Barcelona ‘B’ playing in la Primera next season in a tiki-taka paradise.

It isn’t going to be possible, but that’s probably a good thing all round. It's good for the Madridista press, who would have had to churn out twice the amount of whining bilge about refereeing conspiracies, and it's good for the Catalan crazies, who are spared from having to double their content of unquestioning sycophancy and fawning in regards to anything concerning the Camp Nou club.

The two tweaks that would be required are firstly to change the rule that says a club’s first and second teams may not participate in the same division and secondly to alter the play-off system that has been introduced for the first time in la Liga for promotion from la Primera to la Segunda.

Although Barcelona ‘B’ finished third in the division behind Betis and Rayo Vallecano, they are barred from both promotion and the play-offs, which means the clubs finishing fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh are taking part in home-and-away semis and a two-legged final.

Elche, Granada, Celta and Valladolid played the first leg of the semi-finals this week and rather than being a joyous occasion it was all a little bit tragic as two of these four clubs are just as much in the financial basket-case category as promoted sides Betis and Rayo Vallecano.

Champions Betis are in Spain’s version of administration with players going unpaid due to club debts hovering “between €64m in the best of cases and around €90m in the worst” according to a report issued by administrators.

Runners-up Rayo Vallecano, who finished second are in the early stages of administration having long since given up on the concept of paying their staff. Of the teams involved in the play-offs, Granada are also in the administration process and Celta Vigo are only just recovering from their own financial nightmares.

These two sides faced each other in Vigo on Wednesday and it was Celta who took a 1-0 lead into this weekend’s second leg. Of the four play-off contenders, Celta Vigo are perhaps the team best equipped to mount a survival challenge in la Primera. Although the Galicians have been out of the top flight for four seasons, it's only five years ago that they managed to finish sixth. In a similar situation to Real Sociedad and their own road to recovery, Celta have looked to their youth academy to drag them back towards la Primera again. 

Andalusian side Granada have been out of the top flight since 1988 and have spent a large chunk of the last decade in the desolate wasteland that is the third tier of Spanish football. However, Granada are now looking at back-to-back promotions with a team largely made up of loanees from Udinese, due to a deal struck with the Serie A side that sees Ghanian international defender Jonathan Mensah turning out for the Spanish club.

Valladolid finished seventh in the division but have a 1-0 advantage in their clash with Elche. Sunday's second leg takes place over on the east coast in a whopper of a ground that holds 39,000 – not bad considering Elche haven't been in La Primera since 1978.

Whilst this play-off process has been taking place, three Primera sides have appointed new managers. Luis García was presented before at least 15 Getafe supporters on Thursday having penned a three year deal – a confident contract for a confident coach. Levante have replaced Luis García with Juan Ignacio, who was at second division side Cartagena.

Atlético Madrid are set to unveil Gregorio Manzano on Friday in a one year deal - LLL will make no comment there except to say that the former Sevilla man is a ‘safe pair of hands’ but hardly sets the pulses running amongst the Vicente Calderón faithful.

Elsewhere, the Spanish press is in full transfer speculation mode with the Catalan papers banging the Cesc Fabregas drum again and trying to work out what Alexis Sánchez is up to. Meanwhile, in Madrid's world, it’s all about potential deals for  Kun Agüero, Neymar and Fabio Coentrao - none of which have progressed one inch in the two weeks since the stories started up, with little change expected in the next seven days. 

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