Up until a decade or so ago, Club Deportivo Leganés had their own private battles in the south of Madrid with local rivals Getafe Club de Fútbol. The majority were carried out in the lower reaches of the Spanish league, but some were in La Segunda, and you could argue that Leganés was top dog. All that changed at the end of the 2003-04 season when Getafe won promotion to La Primera and Leganés dropped to Segunda B.
Much of the past decade or so has been difficult for Leganés and its followers. Watching as the club stagnated in the third tier whilst their rivals and neighbours have reached two cup finals, played in Europe and attracted overseas investment. Leganés is the older of the two clubs, having been founded in 1928, but the first fifty seasons were spent in relative obscurity, with just nine seasons in spent in the Tercera during the 1950s & ’60s. After starting out at the Campo de Tiro, the club moved to the Campo de Estación in 1929 and remained there until 1966, when they moved to Campo Luis Rodríguez de Miguel. This basic enclosure had a capacity of 5,000, with practically all the capacity contained on open terracing, apart from a tiny cover on the north-west side. It was here in the mid-seventies that the club began to build its reputation, returning to the Tercera for the 1977-78 season. Over the next decade, Leganés steadily improved its results, winning the Tercera title in 1985-86, but losing out to CD Lugo in the playoffs. A year later and a third-place finish was good enough to earn a place in the newly extended Segunda B.
Leganés made a steady start to life in Segunda B, gradually improving season by season until they won Group I of Segunda B in 1992-93. In a tough playoff group, Leganés faced Elche CF, CF Palencia & Xerez CD. An unbeaten record saw the club win the group and promotion to the second division. Over the next eleven seasons, Leganés played their football in La Segunda, finishing as high as eighth in 1995-96 & 96-97. On the back of these impressive final placings, the club and the municipality decided to build a new stadium to the north of the town. The Campo Luis Rodríguez de Miguel saw its last competitive match on 1 February 1998 when Leganés lost 1-2 to CD Ourense, thanks to the last minute goal by former Manchester United player Mark Robins. The site of the stadium is now occupied by the town’s new Plaza Mayor and plush modern apartments.
On 14 February 1998, Leganés entertained Xerez CD in the first match at the new Estadio Municipal de Butarque. The match finished 1-1 and the club saw out the season with patchy home form, finally finishing in 13th position. In truth, the move to the stadium had come a few seasons too late. Leganés had peaked and over the next six seasons, it struggled to maintain its place in the second tier. In fact, the club earned a reprieve at the end of the 1992-93 season, despite finishing in the relegation zone. SD Compostela’s demotion due to unpaid debts saw Leganés retain their place in La Segunda. There would be no reprieve a year later as the club dropped back to Segunda B. A decade in the doldrums finally ended in May 2014, when Leganés won promotion back to La Segunda. A respectable 10th place was earned at the end of the 2014-15 season, before history was made in June 2016, when Leganés finished runners-up in La Segunda to earn promotion to La Primera, Alas, there will be no top-flight derby with Getafe, as the end of their 12 year stay in La Primera coincided with Leganés promotion.
Butarque was designed by Y León Consultant Architects following a commission by Leganés council in 1994. The stadium forms the centrepiece of a sports development and is bright, but a little formulaic. That might sound harsh, but a year later the Andalucian town of Algeciras CF opened a carbon-copy of Butarque. Both stadiums featured a single tier of raised seating and a high cantilevered roof over one side of the ground. Butarque had the edge on capacity, with 8158 blue & white seats placed around the playing surface in an oval configuration. Smart, functional and bigger than the old Campo Luis Rodríguez de Miguel.
Promotion to La Primera saw the capacity of Butarque extended. The existing raised tier of seating gained a lower section made up of five rows. The extensions were made up of pre-fabricated units, similar to those used to fill the corners at Granada’s Nuevo Los Cármenes. This ring of additional seats raised the capacity of the stadium to a respectable 10,958. Further work to add an additional ring of seats at the rear of the open stands began in the summer of 2018. The project will add an additional 5,000 seats at a cost of €8m. Time will only tell how Leganés will fair in the top flight, but they will take comfort from SD Eibar and dare I say their neighbours Getafe, who have proved that you can survive on small attendances & a minuscule budget.