Relegation in 1986 was compounded by off-field controversy surrounding the actions of the then President, Francisco Steppe. He resigned amid allegations of receipt of payments to throw a game against Pontevedra CF, which would maintain Pontevedra's presence in Segunda 2B. The late 1980s saw a significant restructuring of the club both at board and management levels, and in 1990, SD Compostela regained Segunda B status.
The following season was to prove their most successful to date. On 23 June 1991, a capacity crowd of 8,000 at the Estadio Municipal Santa Isabel, saw goals from Juanito and Ochoa (2) clinch a 3-1 victory in the final play-off match against CD Badajoz and Compostela ascended to the Segunda A for the first time.
The move to Estadio Multiusos de San Lázaro coincided with the continued rise in the team’s fortunes and in 1994, following a 3-1 play-off victory against Rayo Vallecano, Compostela reached the Primera. For a small regional club, Compostela did remarkably well, and reached a best finish of 10th in season 1995-96. After 4 seasons at the top however, Compostela was relegated from the Primera in 1998 after losing a relegation play-off match to Villarreal CF on away-goals. The relegation was generally viewed as unfortunate, as Compostela had played attractive football and had been on the end of some poor refereeing decisions during the season.
Unfortunately, they were about to start a downward spiral that would see relegation and ultimately demotion for financial irregularities. Three seasons of diminishing returns resulted in relegation from Segunda A in 2001. A brief respite followed when SD Compostela were promoted back to Segunda A in 2002. The 2002-03 season was played to a backdrop of off-field distractions. The players and staff went unpaid for months, but to their credit, they still managed a 9th placed finish. This didn’t save them from the drop however, as the club failed to meet the 31 July deadline to settle all outstanding wage debts and they were demoted back to Segunda B.
Off-field problems continued in season 2003-04 and this came to a head when the players, who had not been paid in several months, refused to fulfil their away fixture at UB Conquense. They were deducted 3 points and any spirit that remained to fight relegation quickly evaporated. Relegated during the regular season, further failure to meet their debts by 31 July 2004, saw SD Compostela drop two divisions to the Galician Regional Preferente North. SD Compostela had fallen from Primera to level 5 in 6 years.
Their rise and decline has been mirrored by other regional clubs such as CF Extremadura, Granada CF and Mérida UD , but none have fallen so quickly and so far as SD Compostela. In the 2007-08 season, however, the club won the Regional Preferente and were promoted to the Tercera Division for the 2008-09 season.
Formed in 1962, SD Compostela played their first season at Estadio da Residencia da Universidade de Santiago de Compostela whilst work was completed on their first permanent ground, Estadio Municipal de Santa Isabel. Work was completed in time for the 1963-64 season, and on 22 September 1963, SD Compostela played their first match at the new stadium. It was a basic enclosure and lacked a covered stand until 1969, when a tribune was erected and floodlights installed at a cost of 1 million pesetas. SD Compostela continued to use the ground for first team fixtures until the end of the 1993 season. Their reserve team, Compostela B, played on at Santa Isabel until early 2003, when the ground was finally demolished and replaced with a Municipal Sports Centre that bears the name of Santa Isabel.
Work started on the Multiusos de San Lázaro in 1991. Situated in the eastern suburb of San Lázaro, the stadium is a multi-purpose arena, used primarily for the football matches of its resident clubs, SD Compostela and Ciudad Santiago. The stadium is oval in shape and has terracotta coloured roof that rises on the west side to incorporate the directors seating and press facilities on a second tier. The pitch is surround by a 400m athletics track, which is relatively uncommon in Spanish stadiums. The majority of the 12,000 seats are incorporated on a single, covered tier.
The inaugural match took place on 24 June 1993, when a four-way tournament was staged, featuring Deportivo La Coruña, CD Tenerife, CA River Plate and Sao Paulo FC. Deportivo La Coruña and River Plate played in the first match and Bebeto had the honour of scoring the first goal.