It’s a story that has taken the world by storm, but also a situation that has become all too familiar within football.
In an effort to raise €1.9m that will keep them alive, third-tier Real Oviedo have decided to sell shares in the club for €10.75 each. Subsequently, the football community is showing an ability to pull together during tough economical times at a time when the game is otherwise dominated by unsavoury talking points.
The team that produced some of this season’s Premier League star talents – Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata and Michu – is on the brink of extinction. Shares are now available to buy, but the issue will only last until November 17, where Oviedo's fate will be learned.
Unfortunately, Oviedo are no strangers to this kind of situation. With a relegation from La Liga in 2001 and a two-tier demotion in 2003, Oviedo's star players were still being paid top flight wages whilst they competed in the fourth tier. Struggling to cope with the burden of the expenditure, they sought help. When they needed the assistance of the local authorities, the government refused to give Oviedo any money to resolve their difficulties.
Their players went without pay, but the fans stayed loyal and managed to maintain impressive attendances in their superb 30,000-seater stadium. The Estadio Carlos Tartiere, renovated for the 1982 World Cup, continued to attract fans and the sustainable revenue gained from the supporters is one of the main reason’s Oviedo are still fighting this battle.
And as has become synonymous with modern football, it seems they are going to be fighting for their long-term existence for a little longer. Oviedo called their current financial state their ‘worst time in our 86-year history’. But help is coming from all over the globe.
The club counted on hundreds of fans queuing through the weekend to purchase shares and also had support through English journalist Sid Lowe’s extensive detailing of the cause via Twitter. Subsequently a number of football fans outside of Spain have taken it upon themselves to buy shares, with the aim to keep this historic club alive, whilst the aforementioned former players Cazorla, Mata and Michu, have all also pledged money to answer Oviedo’s rallying call for funds.
The latest reports have the club as having raised over €200,000 inside the first three days of issue and as a sign of gratitude, Oviedo have already promised the notable foreign support that any shareholders outside of Spain can now attend home games for free. Whilst any shareholders won’t stand much chance of future financial gain, it’s a great opportunity to rescue one of Spain's finest clubs in their darkest hours.
The heady days of the late 1990s and early 2000s are long behind them now. A team that once featured Robert Prosinecki, Abel Xavier, Paulo Bento, Victor Onopko and even Stan Collymore are now on their knees, praying for a saviour. It’s hard to avoid looking back at their past when we don’t know what their future will hold.
Although they may have been looking for a knight in shining armour to lead them to safety, it appears an army is working to rescue them from the abyss.