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Murcia fail; Spanish Segunda back on

Spain's Segunda Division is set to start on Saturday as planned after a second Madrid court ruling said the league's authorities were within their rights to forcibly relegate Murcia to the third tier for not fulfilling their financial obligations.

Thursday evening's ruling appears to put an end to what has been a long-running boardroom and courtroom saga, with Mirandes getting a reprieve and staying up despite finishing in the drop zone last year.

A different judge had last week ruled that the La Liga authorities did not have the right to demote Murcia and potentially put the heavily indebted club out of business. The unusual situation had seen Lugo preparing for their kick-off this weekend not knowing to which city they would have to travel to play their first game.

But the matter now looks settled after the second judge overturned in a 20-page judgement the provisional ruling made last week which had appeared to offer a reprieve for Murcia, and opened up the possibility of a potentially unworkable 23-team Segunda Division.

Murcia are reportedly 45 million euros in debt -- including 12.5 million euros in unpaid taxes -- but have decided against following the "Ley Concursal" route which many other financially troubled clubs including Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano and Real Sociedad have ultimately successfully taken.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has repeatedly said that Spanish football must do more to clean up its finances, and the decision to forcibly relegate Murcia was seen as a clear statement to all clubs that the league is finally taking some concrete steps in this issue.

Murcia's fans and players have protested loudly about their club being singled out and potentially bankrupted, but the Spanish government is backing the LFP on the matter and saying that poor financial management by directors is ultimately to blame for their club's woes.

"This is the only mechanism which stops them spending more than they take in and justifying that to their fans," a government source told El Pais.

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