Ciutadella clubs set for historic merger
A landmark move has been made to further football in Ciutadella, with the announcement that the city’s four teams are to join forces.
Atletic Ciutadella, Penya Ciutadella, UE Sami and Dosa CF confirmed in a joint statement that they intend to merge together to provide the best opportunities for football in Ciutadella.
What the clubs have said
The statement read (translated): “During the meeting, the main strategies to coordinate the four clubs towards a common goal were discussed. This involves a detailed study of the bureaucratic and legal steps necessary to achieve this ambitious project. Working committees made up of members of the clubs’ boards of directors and technical bodies have been established to improve coordination and advance the assigned tasks.
“The main objective of this union is to offer the best sports training to the young people of Ciutadella in a comprehensive and fun way, creating a more professional structure adapted to their needs. This initiative will lead to improvements in training and in the game, being a direct consequence of this important training process.
“The correct and legal way to carry out this unification is currently being analyzed, so that all parties involved, along with the community, benefit and a solid foundation for the project is achieved. The next step will be to explain this agreement in more detail to the members of the four clubs and hold the respective assemblies, where the main lines of action of this historic agreement will be presented.
“From the four Ciutadella clubs, the enthusiasm of representing the city with a unanimous feeling stands out, and the good predisposition of both the clubs, the citizens and the public institutions.
“Both the City Council of Ciutadella and the Consell Insular de Menorca have already shown their support for this great project, joining together to collaborate and row together in this new stage of football in the city.”
Is a merger the best way forward?
Of course, Menorcan football history is dominated by a controversial merger back in the 1970s that saw UD Mahon and CD Menorca join forces, only for a fall-out soon after to create decades-long legal disputes.
Ultimately, it ended up creating a third team in the city – while the merged entity, Sporting Mahones, did for a while fly the flag as the highest ranked team in Menorca, it is now back in the Regional league playing alongside the two clubs that joined together to create the merged club.
So instead of creating a powerful joint club for Mahon to move forward, it ended up creating a third different club. Comments locally have referenced the doomed Mahon merger in response to this news.
One said the merger started a ‘gradual but irreversible’ decline to the modern where not many people are interested due to the low level of football on offer. In their heyday, the Mahon clubs were of course in the third tier – now playing at the sixth tier.
However, there doesn’t appear to be such controversy over these modern-day plans to merge Ciutadella.
This map screenshot is perhaps the best way of justifying the merger. Clearly better together as one.
Would expect Penya to be the base of choice as more room for larger development. pic.twitter.com/i1xvbDklhH
— Menorca Football (@MenorcaFootball) January 16, 2024
For a start, they don’t quite have the history or success high up the pyramid that the Mahon clubs did have back in the 1970s.
UE Sami and Atletic Ciutadella literally play next door to each other in separate facilities, and Penya Ciutadella’s ground up the road is the most well appointed of the three.
A joining of resources could help to create better facilities, while also pooling resources and fanbase for a push towards a return for Ciutadella to the national divisions.
A shot in the arm for football in Ciutadella
The Ciutadella clubs, with the exception of UE Sami, have been also rans in the regional league in recent years – and the situation regarding players and resources is best summed up by the fact Penya opted not to even bother entering a team in the 2022/23 season.
Atletic Ciutadella are currently bottom of the Menorcan league, losing all eight of their matches, while UE Sami are second bottom with just four points. Penya have managed three wins and two draws but even that only places them 7th in the ladder, some nine points off pace-setters Ferreries.
Penya played in Tercera Division as recently as 2016/17, while Atletic Ciutadella played in Tercera in all but three seasons between 1992 and 2008.
Given the size of Menorca, joining forces is definitely the best way forward if any Ciutadella presence is to return to Tercera.
They will have been encouraged by Mercadal and Alaior, who both look well placed to retain their place in the division beyond this season.
The only downside is the impact it would potentially have on the Menorca Regional league – although Dosa do not play at the senior level, losing two sides would put the senior division down to nine teams; and that’s assuming that no team gets promoted this term.
Whether there is potential for Tercera Division sides to run reserve teams in the regional division remains to be seen.
While this site largely focuses on senior football, there is of course similar considerations to be had on junior football. Will merging teams reduce the amount of game opportunities and what will that look like.
These will be the sort of questions that representatives of the four separate clubs will need to get to the bottom of.
The choice of name will be interesting too. It will surely contain Ciutadella in the title; you wonder whether they may lean on the long history of Atletic Ciutadella, or whether they see it as an opportunity for a clean slate.
From a purely selfish point of view, the majority of my visits to the island have been to the west and Ciutadella would undoubtedly be my team – something I’ve found difficult due to there being three teams to pick from!
You could argue that the only way for Menorca to really taste success moving up the Spanish football pyramid is for a joint venture encompassing the whole island, but having a ‘city’ club in Ciutadella is certainly a decent alternative.
I look forward to seeing how it develops and hopefully getting involved in some form, be it as a sponsor or helper!