Most football fans will know the Real Oviedo story. Especially theTwitter aficionados, but the outcome of their fairy tale is an interesting one.
They currently reside in the third tier of Spanish football but a few short months ago they nearly disappeared out of existence all together. Staring liquidation in the face thanks to mismanagement, political wrangles, fraud, unpaid players and the general state of the Spanish economy, it was looking incredibly bleak for the Oviedistas. After spending the whole of the 90’s in the top flight they found themselves in Segunda Division B needing almost 2 Million euros just to keep the club alive. Let alone continue the following season.
A rallying cry was called and fans took there place on the board to guide the club to safety. Now they just needed cash. And fast.
Shares needed to be sold and thanks to some high profile former players, such as Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla leading by example, stakes in Real Oviedo started to sell. Real Madrid even snapped up a hundred thousand Euro stake in the club. Swansea forward and former Oviedo player Michu, who still has very strong links with the club, also contributed. Not only financially, but crucially, vocally. Michu, along with The Guardian Spanish football correspondent and much respected journalist Sid Lowe, really pushed the Oviedo cause and brought the situation to the attention of football fans worldwide. The global football community responded and in two weeks nearly 2 million Euros were raised by football fans from over 60 countries around the world, with Britain being one of the biggest contributors. A helping hand from one of the richest men in World also didn’t do any harm, but without the exposure from former players and journalists alike it could have ended very differently.
Real Oviedo’s journey genuinely warms the soul and puts a little faith back into football and its supporters. Proof it’s not just over paid fancy dans watched by drunk, over opinionated Sun readers lapping up the Rupert Murdock ‘product’
Similarities can be drawn to Oviedo with Portsmouth’s recent plight. The same old story of a badly run club, administration, and poor fiscal management also saw Portsmouth on the verge of disintegration. A supporters trust was formed and after years of negotiation and watching hapless owners come and go, backed by the Football League, the Pompey Supporters Trust gained the majority share and restructured the clubs hierarchy. The Trust has Pompey supporters as paid members and uses the revenue it gains to invest in the club and the local community. They may not of had the high profile exposure, thanks to former world class players and influential journalists, but the situation moved enough of the local people, and Pompey’s fan base is large enough, for supporters to rally and do something about what was, and is, important to them.
Again Portsmouth’s story, as heart warming as it is, is also an affirmation of the importance of football clubs to there supporters. Clubs can be hearts of community’s, influencing local area’s not only financially, but culturally. Social hub’s, where people converge and share their past times. Giving a sense of pride in your area and in your informal family.
And this is where football should be. Part of the community. Football is more than just a Super Sunday graphic or a slow motion HD montage, or a transfer deadline day multi million pound deal, as exciting as those can be. Football is about people.
If you haven’t seen it, watch the excellent short documentary about the Real Oviedo story by Copa90. It will re affirm your faith in our game.