New incentive to be crowned Kings of Spain

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Stung by criticism that last season's Copa del Rey final was seen as a bit of an afterthought by the Spanish FA - and, indeed, by most of the clubs taking part in it - the buffet-loving bigwigs have moved swiftly to award it pride of place in La Liga's calendar for 2009.

Having stuck the most recent affair between Valencia and Getafe at three-in-the-morning on a rainy Wednesday night in the leaky, peaky Vicente Calderón, next season's showpiece event will be held on June 20, almost a year from now.

This being Spain, there is one teeny, tiny flaw in this most cunning of plans. The Primera is due to finish on May 31 - some three weeks before this massive match between Mallorca and Getafe - meaning that the reward for those players battling to appear in the final is three weeks less holiday. That isn't going to work for half the current Barcelona squad, for starters.

The starting date of the shiny new season is set to be the weekend of August 31 and La Liga Loca is already placing Javier Aguirre as favourite for the first Primera coach to be given the chop, firstly due to blog tradition and secondly as Atlético Madrid will have finished their Champions League campaign by then.

Three brand new spanking relegation candidates will be joining Recreativo in desperately trying to survive the year in the Spanish top flight.

Numancia won promotion some time ago - with their boss taking the confidence boosting move of jumping ship to Almería and on Sunday Malaga and Sporting joined them - the latter having been away from La Liga's limelight for a good 10 years and the former's boss having also taken the confidence boosting move of jumping ship to Racing Santander.

Sporting: Back in the big league after a 10-year absence

Despite Marca's reports that Real Sociedad were forking out a cool one million euros in 'incentives' to Eibar and Tenerife - the opponents of Sporting and Malaga in last weekend's final matches - the promoted pair won through whilst la Real could only manage a weasly 1-1 draw.

On suicide watch in La Segunda is Abraham Paz of Cadiz, who took a 96th minute penalty to save his side from relegation. But he missed, sending one of the most entertaining of clubs down to the icy depths of Segunda B, probably never to be seen again.

But the good news is that the Andalusian club will be replaced by Rayo Vallecano who have begun their return to the glorious good days with a nervy play off win over Zamora.

Sevilla's José Maria del Nido has been out and about promoting his team's new campaign to boost club membership. Pictured with a boxing glove - oh yes - the president boasted that next season's team would be 'punchier than ever' - following on from the boxing analogy of last year's shower, perhaps, which hit the canvas more times than a foul-tempered Vincent Van Gogh.

Guti has revealed that he harbours ambitions to be driving up a very different kind of fairway when he finally retires.

"I would like to dedicate myself to being a professional golfer," admitted the Real Madrid midfielder, whose current handicap is seven but will need to knock it down to -3 if his dreams are to come true.

La Liga Loca is not entirely sure this most sedate of sports will suit Guti long-term seeing that he will have to recover all his mis-hit balls himself rather than shrugging and getting Wesley Sneijder to do the job.

Guti: "Well I'm not fetching it. I got the last one."