The fall of Deportivo La Coruña is a sad but interesting tale, how one of Spain’s biggest clubs fell to the third tier of the Spanish football pyramid.
They are one of only nine teams to have won La Liga. They are only one of fourteen teams to win the Copa Del Rey. They are third on the list of Spanish Super Cup winners, with only Real Madrid and Barcelona having won more.
They are from the city of La Coruña, which is in the Galicia region and are a city in the Northwest of Spain. They play their matches at the Abanca-Riazor stadium, which has been their stadium since 1944. The stadium has a capacity of 32,912 and last season they had an average of 17,370.
The team had been a team that through the 1990s and early 2000s, were one that would occupy top half positions regularly in La Liga. Between 1993 and 2004, they finished in the top 3 nine times out of twelve seasons. They are a team that have spent most of their history in the top two divisions of Spanish football.
They have been successful in the Copa Del Rey, as they won the trophy in 1995 and again in 2002. In 1995 they managed to beat Valencia in the final, and in 2002 they beat a Real Madrid team that included Hierro, Roberto Carlos, Figo, Makélélé, Zidane, and Raúl. They won 2-1 against Real Madrid in that final. They have never lost a final of the Copa Del Rey. They also managed to win 3 Spanish Super Cups, they won 5-1 on aggregate against Real Madrid in 1995, in 2000 they won 2-0 on aggregate against Espanyol and in 2002 they won 4-0 on aggregate against Valencia. Deportivo have won every Spanish Super Cup they have been involved in.
The biggest success came for Deportivo in 2000, when they won La Liga. They finished the season with 69 points, which was the lowest total for a league winner since 3 points for a win was introduced. They finished 5 points clear of Barcelona and Valencia in 2nd and 3rd respectively. In that season Roy Makaay was Deportivo La Coruna’s top scorer with 24 goals in the league. In that season, notable games were that of Real Madrid, where they won 5-2 and a 2-1 win against Barcelona.
Deportivo also have European pedigree. They were involved in the Champions League for five consecutive seasons from 2000 to 2005. In the 2000-01 season they won their group and in the second group stage they won that too, which gave them a quarter final place against Leeds United, but lost at Elland Road in the first leg 3-0. Deportivo won the second leg 2-0 but went out 3-2 on aggregate.
In 2001-02 Champions League, they won their group which included Manchester United, who they beat twice. This meant they went into a second group stage against Arsenal, Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus. They finished second in that group, which led to a quarter-final against Manchester United. They lost at home in the first leg 2-0, with David Beckham and Van Nistelrooy scoring, and they lost 3-2 at Old Trafford, which led to them being eliminated 5-2 on aggregate.
The 2002-03 season in the Champions League was not as successful, as they made it to the second group stage, but they were unable to progress further as they finished 4th in a group with Juventus, Manchester United and Basel. The 2003-04 was a successful Champions League for Deportivo as they reached the semi-finals, where they lost 1-0 on aggregate because of a Derlei penalty in the second leg, which saw Porto go through to the final and win the competition with Jose Mourinho as manager. In 2004-05, they went out in the Group Stage after finishing 4th.
They had success in the European Cup Winners Cup, which was a competition where all winners of domestic cup competitions played to win the European Cup Winners Cup. In 1996, Deportivo were semi-finalist of the European Cup Winners Cup, where they lost to Paris Saint Germain. They have also played in the UEFA cup where the furthest they got was in 2009, where they reached the round of 32, where they lost to Aalborg BK. Deportivo have not played in Europe since.
The 2010s have seen Deportivo relegated and promoted. They were relegated in 2011, but won the Segunda division in 2012, however were relegated in their first season back. They were then promoted in 2014 and spent the next few seasons in the bottom half of La Liga, until 2018, where they finished 18th, which led to relegation. In 2019, they were in the Segunda Play Offs, they won 4-2 in the first leg against Málaga and 1-0 in the second leg to reach the play off final, where they would play Mallorca over two legs. Deportivo won 2-0 at home, they lost the second leg 3-0, with the winner coming in the 82nd minute. Mallorca won promotion to La Liga.
Deportivo La Coruna’s 2019-20 was a sad one in their history. They were 4 points clear of relegation, with 4 games left to play of the season. They then lost 3 games in a row, which led to a final game of the season against Fuenlabrada. They were in the relegation zone before the final game, but Albacete and Lugo were one point ahead of them. However, on the day of the last game with all fixtures due to kick off at the same time, the game with Fuenlabrada was postponed as some of the Fuenlabrada players had tested positive for coronavirus. However, the league did not postpone all other games. They let all other games go ahead. Lugo won 2-1, Albacete scored in the last minute to win 1-0 and though Ponferradina lost, they had a better head to head with Deportivo. This meant that even if Deportivo won their game against Fuenlabrada, they would still be relegated. They won the game when it was played on the 7th August, they won 2-1, but were relegated to the Segunda B division, which is the third tier of Spanish football. However, Deportivo are in a legal battle to stay up, if that legal battle is unsuccessful then the 2020-21 season will be the first time since 1981, that Deportivo have been in the third tier. It will also mean that Deportivo for the first time in nearly 40 years will be playing in a division that is not classed as professional football.
However, they are trying to push ahead with legal proceedings, in which they are claiming they have been unfairly treated, when all other final day fixtures went ahead, while their game was postponed. If Deportivo are successful, they will stay in Segunda, if not they will be relegated.
There you have it, a team that had won La Liga in 2000, who has competed in European football reaching the semi-finals, they will now play their football in the third tier of Spanish football.