Following the lead of Santi Cazorla and Juan Mata, football fans have been snapping up shares in struggling Spanish club Real Oviedo, and the deadline to do so is tomorrow (17/11).
Sometimes, when you’re in need of a hand, the people you thought were friends let you down and those you’re less familiar with give you a helping hand.
This is no epitaph of someone stumbling through the gutters after closing time, but the recent history of Spanish club Real Oviedo.
Way back in 2001, when Leeds United were in the Champions League semi-finals, Oviedo were completing thei rthirteenth consecutive season in La Liga.
In a meltdown of similar proportions to the aforementioned Yorkshire side, they were relegated that season, and are currently languishing in the third division amongst village sides and top clubs’ 2nd or 3rd teams.
This is all the more mystifying given that they have recently produced the talents of Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and Michu.
They have had to sell these stars cheaply to other Spanish teams to survive, before they were transferred on for big money later.
At the beginning of the season, Oviedo’s future looked bleak. Now it looks non-existent. The club has until 17th November to raise €2 million to prevent being closed down.
But Asturians are made of strong stuff – usually cider, actually. Club officials came up with a share scheme, where anyone could buy a share of the club for just over €11.
The scheme has captured the imagination of the fans, former players and ex-players from other Spanish clubs.
It has even become a popular subject of internet chatter as to whether Formula 1 driver and local boy Fernando Alonso has bought shares.
Most amazingly of all, though, has been the reaction among football fans across the world, most notably in the UK.
Madrid-based English football journalist Sid Lowe, who is an Oviedo fan, publicised the share offer from his Twitter account and requests flooded in about how to obtain shares.
The club then promised free tickets to any non-Spanish resident, tickets whenever they were in town.
All this prompted locals to put up a “Thanks UK” banner outside the stadium last week as Oviedo beat Real Madrid’s C team 1-0 on Monday to climb into a play-off place.
You can almost hear trips being planned around a pub table and budget airline companies plotting routes to Oviedo airport (or Málaga with Oviedo in brackets!).
It is still unsure whether on 18th November the proud capital of Asturias will still have a club.
What an amazing story it would be, though, if a group of complete strangers played a small part in saving a club that means so much to a community club in unfashionable northern Spain.
image: © fervazco