The richest man in the world—Carlos Slim—Raul, Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata, Michu, Adrian Lopez and quite possibly you are now part owners of a third-tier Spanish football side whose story swept across social networks at the end of last year.
Brought to the public's attention by British journalist Sid Lowe, #SOSRealOviedo became the hash tag that kept on giving—quite literally.
Tasked with raising $2.5 million to safeguard the immediate future of the club, Lowe invested his trust in the new owners following a series of bad ownerships which had seen the club slip from La Liga in 2001, to as low as the fourth tier at one point.
Now in Segunda B, the idea was to encourage fans to pay $13 to the club in exchange for one share— if you bought four shares you were entitled to attend the AGM.
The response could never have been anticipated.
As awareness spread in the form of former Oviedo players Cazorla, Mata, Michu and Adrian—who themselves purchased shares—the intrigue and interest peaked globally. From England to America, South Africa to Sweden, people were becoming shareholders of Real Oviedo.
Lowe was keen to press on Twitter that you were effectively giving your money away, that you were unlikely to get anything from it except a share certificate announcing your part-ownership. For most though, like Jonathan Hawkins on CNN, that was good enough.
So enamoured were the Spanish club with their new legions of foreign owners that they decided should they ever want to visit for a match at Estadio Carlos Tartiere, then they could do so for free.
The date for survival was November 17th, 2012. With a little help from the World's richest man, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, the club comfortably passed their target of $2.5 million and following Sunday's 2-0 win against Real Aviles sit second in the league, four points behind Tenerife.
Slim's representatives said they got involved because of the history of the club, its stature and because of the overwhelming response of the footballing community to save it from going out of business.
As for Sid Lowe? Why did he get involved?
He told TheInsideLeft it was by chance. Studying a degree in History and Spanish he was placed in Oviedo for a year to study, and while there he started going to games and as football fans we know only too well how dangerous that can be.
Years later, it is a random act as small as a British student being placed in a Spanish city that has seen Real Oviedo overcome its darkest hour. Now, with a fan base spanning the world, the club can look to focus its immediate attention on getting into Segunda—La Liga can wait for now.
The success of the survival project will be celebrated in April this year, on the club's "Supporters' Day," the same weekend they host Atletico de Madrid B at their 30,000 capacity stadium. Gate 19 at the stadium will also be named "Proud of You" in honour of international shareholders and fans
"Supporters' Day" is celebrated each year to mark the club's anniversary. This year will be their 87th and although not a significant number, it may actually be the most significant yet as the club celebrates its new life by re-branding it "International Supporters' Day."
A social network campaign turned into a concrete success story last year, on that basis expect Oviedo to be packed with their new array of foreign owners on April 7th.
Will you be there?
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