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Bilbao Athletic, officially named Athletic Club "B", is the reserve team of Athletic Bilbao, a football club based in Bilbao, in the autonomous community of Basque Country. The team will play in the Segunda División B in the 2018–19 season. Founded in 1964, the team holds home matches at the small stadium attached to the club's training facility at Lezama, or occasionally at San Mamés Stadium, with its 53,500-seat capacity, for important fixtures.

Bilbao Athletic
Club Athletic Bilbao logo.svg
Full nameAthletic Club
Nickname(s)Los Leones / Lehoiak
(The Lions)

Los Cachorros / Katxorroak
(The Puppies)
Founded1964; 55 years ago (1964)
GroundLezama (Field 2)
PresidentAitor Elizegi
Head coachJoseba Etxeberria
League2ª B – Group 2
2018–192ª B – Group 2, 6th
Current season

Reserve teams in Spain play in the same football pyramid as their senior team rather than a separate league. However, reserves cannot play in the same division as their senior team. Therefore, Bilbao Athletic are ineligible for promotion to La Liga. Reserve teams are also no longer permitted to enter the Copa del Rey. In addition, only under-23 players, or under-25 with a professional contract, can switch between senior and reserve teams. In recent years, most of Bilbao Athletic's players have been graduates from the club's youth setup ('cantera') via the farm team, Basconia.


The Bilbao Athletic name was first used in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, when both La Liga and the Copa del Rey were suspended; most of the top Athletic players had joined the Euzkadi XI, a team put together at the suggestion of José Antonio Aguirre, the president of the Basque Country (and himself a former Athletic Bilbao footballer). Euzkadi went on tour to raise funds for the Basque cause, and also played in the Mexican domestic league. However, at home the Campeonato de Vizcaya had resumed in 1938. With their best players abroad with Euzkadi, Athletic could only field weakened sides and, to avoid possible shameful results damaging the club's reputation, chose to enter under the name Bilbao Athletic (the name was derived from the two clubs that merged in 1903 to become Athletic Bilbao – Bilbao Football Club and Athletic Club).[1] Despite the low expectations, they still won the championship and entered the 1939 Copa del Generalísimo.

The name was revived in 1964, when Athletic Bilbao decided to establish a reserve team with Agustín Gaínza as coach. The new Bilbao Athletic initially played in local regional leagues before winning promotion to Tercera División in 1966, under Rafa Iriondo; in 1969 they first reached Segunda División.

In 1983–84, with José Ángel Iribar as coach, and an emerging Julio Salinas as striker, the reserves finished in second place, only trailing Castilla CF; both teams were ineligible for promotion, and Salinas won the Pichichi.

Bilbao Athletic dropped back down to the third level in 1996, but the main squad continued to be nurtured with several players who had spells with the reserves.

Bilbao Athletic played home games at San Mamés during the 2015–16 season due to league requirements, but attracted crowds of only a few thousand for most games.

After 19 seasons in the Segunda División B, Bilbao Athletic returned to the second tier after defeating Cádiz CF, 3–1 on aggregate, in the promotion playoffs.[2] However in their campaign in the Segunda they were reliant on the same group, a core squad of 20-year-olds who had never played at such a high level before, and despite battling performances in most of their games, a pattern of narrow defeats led to the team finishing bottom and being relegated back down at the first attempt.[3] Somewhat ironically, the promoted teams that season were CD Leganés whose squad included three players on loan from Athletic who would have been eligible to play for Bilbao Athletic that season, as well as the parent club's local rivals Alavés and Osasuna.

Premier League International CupEdit

Athletic applied to compete in the England-based Premier League International Cup, with most of the players selected for the Under-23 tournament drawn from Bilbao Athletic with some younger additions from Basconia and the Juvenil squads (a limited number of overage players are permitted, but Athletic do not use them). In 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17 the club qualified from their group but were eliminated in the first knockout round, while in the 2017–18[4] and 2018–19 editions, they bowed out at the group stage.


  • As farm team:
    • Club Atlético de Bilbao Amateur (1964–66)
    • Bilbao Atlético Club (1966–72)
    • Bilbao Athletic Club (1972–91)
  • As reserve team:
    • Athletic Club B (1991–)

Season to seasonEdit

Season Tier Division Place Copa del Rey
1964/65 4 1ª Reg. 17th DNP
1965/66 4 1ª Reg. 1st DNP
1966/67 3 1st DNP
1967/68 3 3rd DNP
1968/69 3 1st DNP
1969/70 2 13th Round of 32
1970/71 3 5th 3rd round
1971/72 3 9th 1st round
1972/73 3 5th 3rd round
1973/74 3 13th 1st round
1974/75 3 8th 1st round
1975/76 3 4th 2nd round
1976/77 3 4th 1st round
1977/78 3 2ªB 5th 2nd round
Season Tier Division Place Copa del Rey
1978/79 3 2ªB 7th 2nd round
1979/80 3 2ªB 12th 2nd round
1980/81 3 2ªB 3rd DNP
1981/82 3 2ªB 10th 2nd round
1982/83 3 2ªB 1st 2nd round
1983/84 2 2nd 2nd round
1984/85 2 15th 1st round
1985/86 2 7th 1st round
1986/87 2 6th 3rd round
1987/88 2 17th 4th round
1988/89 3 2ªB 1st DNP
1989/90 2 3rd Retirement[nb 1]
1990/91 2 13th N/A
Season Tier Division Place
1991/92 2 13th
1992/93 2 15th
1993/94 2 14th
1994/95 2 16th
1995/96 2 18th
1996/97 3 2ªB 12th
1997/98 3 2ªB 2nd
1998/99 3 2ªB 6th
1999/00 3 2ªB 8th
2000/01 3 2ªB 6th
2001/02 3 2ªB 6th
2002/03 3 2ªB 4th
2003/04 3 2ªB 11th
2004/05 3 2ªB 9th
2005/06 3 2ªB 6th
2006/07 3 2ªB 15th
2007/08 3 2ªB 15th
2008/09 3 2ªB 11th
2009/10 3 2ªB 15th
2010/11 3 2ªB 12th
Season Tier Division Place
2011/12 3 2ªB 8th
2012/13 3 2ªB 3rd
2013/14 3 2ªB 5th
2014/15 3 2ªB 2nd
2015/16 2 22nd
2016/17 3 2ªB 8th
2017/18 3 2ªB 4th
  1. ^ Before the start of the competition

Current squadEdit



For playing big matches, they use San Mamés, the first team stadium.

Bilbao Athletic in training

Selected coachesEdit

Famous playersEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Bilbao Athletic history". Athletic Bilbao. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  2. ^ "El Bilbao Athletic, a Segunda 19 años después y el Cádiz tendrá que esperar" [Bilbao Athletic, into Segunda 19 years later and Cadiz will have to wait] (in Spanish). EFE. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  3. ^ "El Bilbao Athletic empata contra Osasuna y pierde la categoría" [Bilbao Athletic draw with Osasuna and lose the category] (in Spanish). El Correo. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Report: Swans U23 0 Athletic Bilbao B 2". Swansea City A.F.C. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  5. ^ BILBAO ATHLETIC 2018-19; Athletic's official website
  6. ^ "El "Cuco" Ziganda agranda su trayectoria deportiva - Navarra Deportiva" [The "Cuco" Ziganda enlarges his sports career] (in Spanish). 29 May 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2018.

External linksEdit