Surprise in the Athletic elections, total turnover. After seven and a half years in office of Josu Urrutia, Aitor Elizegi (Bilbao, 1966) is the new president of the Bilbao club, after winning the elections held at the club's headquarters in the Ibaigane palace, which was home to the Sota family and then military government in the days of Franco's dictatorship.
The renovating candidate, who decided to stand for election to the second, after resigning at first, won by only 85 votes (9,264 to 9,179) to Alberto Uribe-Echevarria, who started as a favorite, in a very close vote in the 19,340 members participated, 46.77% of the 41,354 entitled to vote, over 18 years and at least one year old. The influx to Ibaigane increased in the final hours, to the point that the electoral board announced that all who were queuing to exercise their right could vote at 9.00 pm, when the closing of the polls was scheduled. After the count of votes, and after the winner is officially proclaimed. Aitor Elizegi and the members of his candidacy celebrated their victory at the gates of the rojiblanca venue. From December 28, the day of the Innocents, will have command in place.
Elizegi is a chef, owner of the restaurant Bascook, promoter of the initiative slow food; businessman and president of Bilbao Dendak, the largest traders platform in the Basque Country.
In spite of not having the support of the PNV, a party of which he is an affiliate, which has traditionally a great influence on the rojiblanco vote, and which decided to endorse Alberto Uribe-Echevarria, Elizegi knew how to win the support of the discontented with the seven and a half years of Josu Urrutia's administration; with those who see with concern the evolution of the Athletic League and consider it unfortunate to have planted an election in the middle of the championship and, possibly, also on behalf of the 8,000 new members who vote for the first time.
In spite of the advantages that Uribe-Echevarria used during his campaign on the financial relief that supposes for someone like him, that came from the previous meeting, the fact of being able to dispose without restrictions, of all the patrimony of the club without having the sword of Damocles of the guarantees required by the Sports Law, the partners prefer to risk with a new candidacy in which professionals from various fields are integrated in which Elizegi affirms that he will delegate many functions.
During his campaign, the new president of Athletic has been giving brushstrokes of what will be the changes he will try to make in the club, among them, giving more voice to the members on a day-to-day basis; modify the statutes to make them more participatory and try to involve all the estates of Bilbao and Bizkaia. In addition, it foresees deep changes in the San Mamés animation stand, so that the new field recovers the essences of the old one. It wants to rejuvenate the social mass, giving incentives for young people to join the club, and affirms that it will empower the female team. As for names, the new sports director will be Rafa Alkorta, former player of Athletic and Real Madrid and technical secretary, Andoni Ayarza. In addition, who was physical trainer of Athletic and of the selection, Manolo Delgado, will be external advisor of the rojiblanca board of directors.
On his promises of the last days to improve Athletic, the new president says that "I am a slave to my words, but others were slaves to their deeds. I gave Uribe-Echevarria my hand before and I'll give it to her again tomorrow. He has my hand outstretched for what he needs. "
In addition, Elizegi assures that there will be a great change in the way of relating to the media. Urrutia maintained continuous friction, and even the psychologist Silvia Muriel, who was part of the candidacy of Uribe-Echevarria, said in an interview, on the eve of the elections, that she would not change a single comma in that matter. The new president even announced a symbolic measure: "The journalists will return to travel on the plane of the team", something that Urrutia banned three years ago.
Less participation and fewer votes than in 2011
Voting in Ibaigane began at nine in the morning. The new president, Alberto Uribe-Echevarria, voted at ten o'clock, at one of the authorized tables, although he already greeted voters who had been coming to the polls since minutes before, such as Aitor Elizegi, who at 9:15 a.m. He had greeted his rival, but waited to cast his vote until 11.45. Between both, at ten thirty, the previous president, Josu Urrutia, voted.
The participation was lower in percentage and in votes than the one that proclaimed Urrutia in 2011 (22,176 votes and a 65% participation). The votes surpassed those of the 2007 and 2004 elections, but only the latter in percentage of voters.