With the temperatures dropping below zero, top teams around Europe are widespread looking for warmer climates to host their annual winter break training camps.
Unlike the English Premier League, where playing throughout the winter and the Christmas period is commonplace, most Northern European football clubs take a much-needed break. And it won't come as a big surprise that many clubs land at the sunny Costa del Sol to prepare for the second half of the season.
Great boost for the local economy
Between November 2016 and April 2017, the Costa del Sol hosted approximately 112 football clubs, housing more than 29 nations during the winter. It is estimated that 4,862 football players remained in various towns along the Málaga coast, providing an estimated 6.5 million EU to the province. While clubs like Borussia Dortmund and Internazionale were located in Marbella, many other European teams made camp in Estepona.
Estepona becoming increasingly popular
The trend initially began with Scandinavian teams, who were the first to travel to the Costa del Sol during the snowy season. After that, many Dutch, Belgium, German and other northern EU countries followed. Over the last years, teams such as Feyenoord, Werder Bremen, AZ, Fc Groningen, Karlsruher SC, 1. FSV Mainz 05 found their way to Estepona.
And according to local media, this number will only increase. Estepona is, thanks to its mild winter climate an ideal hotspot for the winter pre-season. But moreover, Estepona has many great facilities to offer nowadays. With many 4-5 star hotels and great, modern sports facilities, it has grown to be one of the most popular mid-season preparation areas.
The start: Estepona city of Sport 2013
Estepona is more than the sandy beaches and the cracking old town. Since Estepona became the European City of Sport in 2013, the town has invested millions into sports facilities. Last December, the town hall gave the green light to start the construction of a new athletics stadium complex. The site, covering 34,132 M2, will feature an athletics track, football ground, a BMX track, and an underground car park (approx. 1000 vehicles)
Estepona Mayor Jose Garcia Urbano intents to build one of Andalucia’s go-to athletic complexes, fit with manicured gardens on the side. “It is one of the biggest projects for Estepona in the current council legislature and it will be available for a wide variety of uses,” Urbano said. Prior, sites such as the fairground, the Felipe VI auditorium and the stadium of Estepona football club, El Municipal Francisco Muñoz Pérez (cap. 3.800) were completed in Estepona.
Estepona, sport and investments
Former Dutch international Bryan Roy has bought 47,000 square meters of land in Estepona to build a luxury hotel with the intention to develop the best sports facilities in the near future. A hotel, in short, where football clubs like to stay for a week to train.
"I want clubs to keep their training camp with me, I'll take care of all the facilities, so they can work the way they do at their own club, a good gym, a spa, you name it, everything at top level," as Roy revealed last year to Dutch media.
AZ Alkmaar, the current number 3 of the Dutch League, is staying in Estepona. They have checked into the luxurious Elba Estepona Hotel and will play a friendly match against FC St. Gallen on Friday the 12th. The game will be played at Complejo deportivo arroyo enmedio, Bryan Roy’s turf.