Athletic Club, commonly known as Athletic Bilbao, is a football club from Bilbao in Biscay, Basque Country, Spain. The club has played in the Primera DivisiÃ³n of La Liga since its start in 1928. They have won La Liga on eight occasions. In the historical classification of La Liga Athletic Bilbao took 3rd place behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, and along with both of them are the only clubs which have never been relegated from La Liga. The club also has a women's team, which has won 4 championships in the Spanish Superliga.
The club is known for its cantera policy of bringing young Basque players through the ranks, as well as recruiting top Basque players from other clubs (like Joseba Etxeberria or Javi MartÃnez). Athletic official policy is signing professional players native to the greater Basque Country, including Biscay, GuipÃºzcoa, Ãlava and Navarre (in Spain); and Labourd, Soule and Lower Navarre (in France). Still, in recent times, this policy has been somewhat relaxed and players with direct Basque ancestry or with no Basque ancestry but formed in Basque clubs have played for the team. This has gained Athletic both admirers and critics. The club has been praised for promoting home grown players and club loyalty. On the other hand, Athletic is one of only four professional clubs in Spain, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Osasuna, which is not a sports corporation, so that ownership of the club lies in its associates (socios).