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The heat is on as conflict deepens in fight for Spanish football’s soul | Sid Lowe


Temperatures are rising on and off the pitch, with opposition building to that US plan and kick-off times doing little to help

At the one end of the ground that is an end and not just a wall, a small gang of Rayo Vallecano fans in bright high-vis jackets and yellow hard hats started leaping up and down, testing the foundations. Around them, drums beat, flags waved and supporters laughed as they took out their tools to fix the place up, bashing away with inflatable yellow hammers. If it looked silly, it was supposed to – and it was no dafter than the real thing – but at least they were here now. Rayo, promoted in the summer after two years away from primera, hadn’t been home since the opening day of the season. On Saturday, they returned in the way that only they seem to know how – and a way that felt appropriate somehow, this weekend more than ever.

That night, against Sevilla, a small boy fell through a gap and on to some rubble, while above him the stand literally shook. Long denounced by supporters, Rayo’s ground, which had gone six years without a valid safety certificate, was shut down by the council. Athletic Club were next in town and some of them came too – they’d already arranged their travel by the time the decision had finally been made, four days before it was due to be played – but they didn’t see a game and didn’t get compensation either, of course. There had been discussions about Butarque or the Metropolitano, while Getafe said no to using the Coliseum; instead the match was postponed and work got under way.

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Barcelona 2-2, Girona, Real Betis 2-2 Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal 0-0 Valencia, Levante 2-6 Sevilla, Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol, Getafe 0-2 Atlético Madrid, Celta Vigo 3-3 Valladolid, Eibar 1-0 Leganés, Rayo Vallecano 1-5 Alavés, Huesca 0-1 Real Sociedad

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