Real Oviedo face liquidation
7 November ~ They may have one of Spain's richest footballing heritages and around 12,000 season ticket holders but Real Oviedo could soon cease to exist. Financial turmoil again threatens the club from Asturias, notable in recent times for a UEFA Cup run and beginning the careers of Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and Michu. Now, having been dumped in the third tier through the actions of former owners, fans are being called upon to save the club. It is hoped that €1.9 million (£1.5m) worth of shares, costing €10.75 each, will be raised by the deadline of November 19. If not, liquidation will become a possibility.
"Oviedo are traditionally a first division club," says Spanish football journalist Sid Lowe, who has witnessed their deterioration over the past decade – ex-Spain manager Luis Aragonés was in charge when their unfortunate plight began. Lowe adds: "They went down in 2001, not long after building a new stadium [the 30,000-capacity Estadio Carlos Tartiere] and signing Stan Collymore. They were later relegated two divisions in one go – from 2 to 2B and 2B to 3, once on the pitch and once administratively, after players complained about not being paid."
Lowe has used Twitter to promote the campaign alongside the club's official website for donations which raised €35,000 from 1,250 different users via PayPal on its first day. The Premier League trio of Mata, Cazorla and Michu as well as Atlético Madrid forward Adrián, another youth product, have contributed to this promising start. If it continues at this rate, with such worldwide backing thanks largely to word of mouth and social media, the target should be reached.
Aside from the satisfaction of become part-owner of an 86-year-old football club, tangible incentives put forward by Oviedo include a share certificate and free tickets to any foreign shareholders visiting the city. Those purchasing at least four shares are also entitled to attend annual general meetings. This has led to talk of setting up worldwide fan clubs via social media but there is, as with every financial investment, a caveat.
Shares should not be seen by potential buyers as a way to make a profit, or even getting their money back. A struggling football club is not, after all, your typical stock market acquisition. "The risk is simple: you're throwing away your money," Lowe says. "It's highly unlikely the shares will ever have any real value. It has to be seen as a charitable donation – to save the club. The worst case scenario is that this fails, the club dies, and the shares become worthless."
The thousands of backers to date, less than a week after the shares went on sale, seem determined to avoid that worst case scenario. Thanks to them, the game against Real Madrid C this weekend seems unlikely to be Oviedo's last but there is still some way left until those worries can be eradicated. Tom Parfitt