Former Houston Astros GMO Jeff Luhnow says he is aiming for long-term success in La Liga – after his Blue Crow Sports Group bought 99 per cent of the shares in Segunda Division side Leganes.
Suburban Madrid side Leganes finished 12th in the Segunda Division last season, but Luhnow said the immediate aim was to get back to the top flight, where they spent four years from 2016 to 2020.
“Success is not measured over the short term, we will not sacrifice the future for the present,” Luhnow (pictured right) told The Athletic during a press conference at the club’s Estadio Butarque.
“That does not mean we will not try and win every game, the challenge is also every year is to win every league we are in. So we aim to get promotion this year, and then set a challenge for the next season.”
Leganes are widely seen as one of the best-run clubs in Spanish football, with a strong financial situation built under previous president Victoria Pavon and her husband Felipe Moreno, who took over when the club was bankrupt and in the third tier in 2008.
“I am convinced that they are the best people in the world to make this club bigger and better,” Moreno said during Thursday’s event, which took place on the club’s 94th birthday.
Luhnow said Blue Crow Sports Group had been looking to invest in European football for two years. They had considered many different clubs in “eight or nine” leagues throughout Europe, but had first decided on Spain, and then on Leganes.
“Spain has the most potential for growth of all, with La Liga’s economic controls, CVC, all that is happening here,” Luhnow said. “Leganes had the best combination of all we were looking for – location, fans, stadium, training ground and potential for growth.”
Blue Crow has many different investors, he said, from the United States, Latin America and Asia, and includes people with experience of soccer and other sports including baseball, American football, basketball, Formula 1 and esports.
“We won’t have the resources of the biggest teams in Spain, so we must work more cleverly, be more agile, use players they don’t, develop the youth system, use technology,” Luhnow said. “What we want is to compete consistently by creating advantages, many advantages in many areas.”
Luhnow said the new owners wanted to build on top of the existing club structure.
Sporting director Chema Indias will continue in his position, building next season’s squad with help from Blue Crow’s team of analysts. The coach will be Imanol Idiakez, who has been assistant to Unai Emery at Villarreal for the last two seasons.
Idiakez’s brother Inigo Idiakez, a former Derby and Southampton midfielder, is currently in charge at Cancun FC, a Mexican second-tier club who Blue Crow bought in January 2022.
Mexico-City born Luhnow also worked in the scouting department of the Saint Louis Cardinals from 2003 through 2011. He spent nine years at the Astros, including winning the franchise’s first-ever World Series in 2017.
He was fired by Astros owner Jim Crane in January 2020, after MLB found the team had consistently used technology to ‘steal the signs’ of opposition pitchers in previous seasons.
(Photo: The Athletic)