Last updateFri, 16 May 2014 11am

UDG ‘Lions’ back at top table

Around 55,000 feverish supporters roared the Leones Negros (Black Lions) to victory Saturday in the Jalisco Stadium, thus ensuring that the University of Guadalajara’s pro soccer team will be competing in the top-flight Liga Mx next season.

The 4-3 win over the Tecos from the rival University Autonoma de Guadalajara (UAG) went to a nail-biting penalty shootout after the game finished 1-1 after regular and extra time.

As champions of the Liga Ascenso, the Leones Negros automatically return to the elite stage of Mexico soccer for the first time in two decades. Fans are already savoring the prospect of mouth-watering contests with hometown rivals Chivas and Atlas, as well as games with the capital’s most famous teams such as America, Cruz Azul and Pumas.

In anticipation of a Leones victory and subsequent celebrations, Guadalajara’s Minerva Glorieta was closed to traffic Saturday evening. More than 2,000 jubilant fans welcomed the team’s heroes who arrived by bus directly from the stadium. To huge cheers and thumping background music, each player was presented on a stage erected to one side of the traffic circle.

Also taking the podium was University of Guadalajara (UDG) Rector Tonatiuh Bravo Padilla, who watched the game along with other senior university officials. Addressing the fans, he promised to form a competitive team to challenge for the Liga Mx title and vowed that the UDG franchise would not be sold to a business consortium from another Mexican city, as has occurred in the recent past with smaller teams promoted to the Liga Mx.

On Monday, Bravo Padilla, the team and their coaches went to the Jalisco Government Palace to be congratulated by Governor Aristoteles Sandoval, himself a former UDG alumni.

The UDG also announced that Raul Padilla Lopez would be assuming the post as the team’s president. Padilla Lopez, a former rector who is often referred to as the UDG’s “godfather,” is the president of the annual International Book Fair (FIL) and International Film Festival (FICG) and considered the ideal figure to ensure the Leones find suitable private sponsors and even turn a profit.

The Leones will be self-financing and not draw on the university’s annual budget, the rector has stressed on several occasions.

A major factor determining the level of the team’s financing will be the agreement reached with a major broadcaster over television transmission rights for Leones games.