Huesca fail in plea to demote Hercules

La Liga authorities have rejected SD Huesca’s plea to see Hercules immediately relegated due to allegations the latter club was involved in match-fixing in Spain’s second division last season.

On August 5, Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) president Javier Tebas, along with Spain’s sports minister Miguel Cardenal, told a press conference that various inquiries were taking place into three Primera Division and six Segunda Division games from the 2012-13 season, due to suspicions of illegal betting practices and ‘third-party incentive’ payments being made to affect results.

Tebas and UEFA have said Racing Santander’s 3-0 win over Hercules from June 8 is being investigated. Racing were ultimately relegated despite the victory, with Hercules finishing just above the drop zone.

On hearing of the doubts over the game, Huesca appealed directly to the LFP, asking for Hercules to be immediately punished with relegation. This would have led to a reprieve for Huesca, who finished 21st in the table and are due to begin the new campaign in the third tier.

However the LFP has said it is too early yet for such action to be taken.

“The magistrate will continue his investigations, which must be aimed at identifying those responsible for irregular conduct,” the body said in a statement to AS. “The petitions of Huesca have been rejected. The only confirmation at this point is the existence of changes in the movements of bets corresponding to said game, but no proof which links any player, director or employee. A case for punishment cannot be opened because it cannot be directed against any responsible individual.”

Another of the games being looked at is Racing’s 1-0 home defeat to Girona, which was played on April 13. Girona president Joaquim Boadas has claimed that Racing figures subsequently approached him with a suggestion he sign a backdated document stating Girona had deliberately played a weakened team in that fixture, which would have seen Racing awarded the three points and thereby avoid relegation themselves.

The LFP statement said it had been decided that it would be left to “the investigating judge to determine if a crime has been committed” before the sporting body could take any action.

Tebas has surprised many with his very public denunciations of match-fixing since he became LFP president in April. He has also criticised Spanish FA president Angel Maria Villar for not taking the current claims of malpractice seriously enough.