Tale Of Oviedo Displays The Good That Exists In Football

Posted: November 22, 2012 in Football
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There are times where you look at yourself and wonder exactly why you are a football fan.

For all the lying, cheating, bickering, financial negligence, racism and pretention that surrounds the game, it is often swarmed by a black cloud of despair.

So sometimes you need a good news story to remind you what football is really about and why we really dedicate so much of our lives to watching, reading and playing the beautiful game.

That story of late has been the tale of Real Oviedo, a former top flight side in Spain, who through a period of financial mismanagement and boardroom battles found themselves slipping down the leagues and on the brink of complete liquidation.

Having chased the La Liga dream in the late nineties, the board at the time invested heavily, spending outside of their means to no avail, as success did not follow.

The club slipped toward the foot of the Primera table and eventually suffered relegation to La Segunda in 2001, ending a run of 13 consecutive seasons in the top flight.

Their spell in La Segunda lasted a mere two seasons, as crippling debts saw them sell of any precocious talents on their books, seeing them relegated to the tiered Segunda B, before eventual demotion to La Tercera, filled with teams that were only just semi-professional.

This was no place for a team with the history of Oviedo, still boasting the Carlos Tartiere stadium, which holds over 30,000.

They had managed to get themselves promoted out of that division again, but were informed this season that they had a deadline of until November 17th to raise €2million or face complete bankruptcy, a sum unachievable for a forgotten side stranded in Spain’s third tier and run by a group of businessmen with barely a penny to spend between them.

So Oviedo decided to release shares to the general public to an overwhelming response from people all over the globe.

Unofficially fronted by Sid Lowe, Spanish columnist for The Guardian and self-confessed Oviedo fan, started a campaign over Twitter, with the hashtag #SOSRealOviedo going viral quickly as people from all nations snapped up shares to become a little part of Spanish footballing history.

There was no pretence behind the appeal, no lies, no promise of reward. People were informed by all promoting parties that there was no guarantee that the shares they purchased would ever be worth any profit, or even a return on the €13 (£10) they invested.

This was simply a way for the club to stay in existence, with the only reward to gain free tickets to games should you ever visit Oviedo, though four shares bought you the right to attend club AGMs.

But still people continued to be part of the scheme, doing their little part to save Los Carbayones.

Diverting from the understanding that footballers are selfish and self-obsessed, former players Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and Michu of Chelsea, Arsenal and Swansea City respectively all offered funds to help save the cash-strapped club.

All had started their professional careers at Oviedo and showed that generosity that we wish to see from multi-millionaires, chipping in to save the people responsible for promoting them on to better things.

They reached their goal of €2m in time to keep the club in existence, with the footballing universe pooling together to save a crucial part of the game, before an unexpected windfall boosted the club even further.

Touched by the global movement to save the club, Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecommunications entrepreneur estimated as the richest man in the world, invested £1.5m extra into the club to take a controlling stake and give them a secure footing once again with the intention to, “support Oviedo’s players so they can reach their goals and the club can reach the division that corresponds to its history and values.”

This did not smack of any desire to have a footballing plaything, like so many tycoons and oligarchs, but simply of joining forces with the football nation to restore pride to this once respectable club.  

Real Oviedo can now look forward to a future where they can concentrate solely on the football, without having the banks and administrators breathing down the backs of their necks.

Football has it’s many flaws, but it’s strength is the bond that ensnares people of all ages, nationalities, creeds and colours, bringing a sense of togetherness that nothing else can ever achieve.

As a club now owned by Mexican multi-billionaires, Norwegian fishermen and British builders alike, Real Oviedo will stand the test of time as the worldwide club of the people and as the epitome of good that exists in football


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