Olhanense, one of the Algarve’s most historic football clubs, has been relegated to the regional leagues for the first time in its 110-year history.
A 1-0 away loss for Olhanense against Oriental Dragon in the 22nd matchday of the Campeonato de Portugal (fourth-tier league) on Sunday confirmed the worst: the club will be competing in the AF Algarve Divisão 1 regional league in the 2023/2024 season.
Just 10 years after battling among Portugal’s elite teams, the club has been slowly making its way down the ranks, having been relegated from the Primeira Liga (top tier) in the 2013/2014 season and from the Segunda Liga (second tier) in 2016/2017.
This year’s relegation will see Olhanense compete in the regional league for the first time since 1946/1947, when doing so was mandatory as only the champions of certain regions would qualify to compete in the national league.
Club president Isidoro Sousa has blamed what he calls “one of the darkest pages in the history of football in Olhão”.
“There is no memory of an embarrassment like this, and if Olhanense has been relegated to the regional leagues, it is only a result of the incompetence of the people who have been in charge of the Olhanense SAD (public limited sports company) and who have been unable to design a solid project, or step away to give their place to others, as not too long ago there was no shortage of people interested,” he said.
Sousa also accuses the SAD of amassing over €2 million in liabilities which prevent the club from receiving public aid, such as that from Olhão Council.
“Only with a lot of imagination and daily efforts from many people will we be able to maintain hundreds of young athletes competing,” he said.
The club president also vowed to “do everything” to keep the football team from being dismantled if the SAD decides to shut down, and called on club members (sócios) to “not abandon the club, as it is during these difficult and tough times that we need to be together, in order to create the conditions for Olhanense to gradually recover its prestige and strength”.