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Nov 14, 2012

Real Oviedo need wealthy investor

Oviedo mayor Agustin Iglesias says this month's campaign to save the city's football club will likely stave off the threat of its immediate winding-up, but a wealthier investor is required to ensure its sustainable future.

After it emerged that Real Oviedo needed to raise €2 million to remain afloat by November 17, a campaign was mounted among supporters in Spain and overseas, leading to contributions from Real Madrid, former Oviedo players Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and Michu, and thousands of ordinary fans worldwide galvanised by Twitter.

In the short-term, extinction looks to have been averted, but the fundraising efforts were just the first step in putting the club back on a sustainable footing, Iglesias told AS on Wednesday.

"The commitment has surprised everyone and the supporters have made a huge step," he said. "Shortly we will all sit down and decide what is best for Real Oviedo. It must be the fans who decide what model of club they want.

"We have saved a 'match-point' for liquidating the club, but we still have financial problems and sporting aspirations which demand we get promoted. These depend on a viable and sustainable project."

All was not completely settled ahead of next weekend's deadline yet, Iglesias said, with the financial details of Real Madrid's €100,000 donation still to be worked out.

"We are working against the clock to finalise the purchase of shares financed by Real Madrid," he said. "In the end the club decided to make a donation to the town hall for their purchase. On the other side, the line remains open for any investor who shows interest. There are four long days left and we hope to be able to celebrate on Saturday."

As a further €2 million at least is required to pay off long-term creditors - include the Spanish tax authorities - Iglesias said that the support of a wealthy backer would be needed, with Granada owner Quique Pina one of those who could come in.

"We are having conversations with two or three groups who have shown an interest in investing," he said. "Quique Pina's name has been made public. His representatives are in the city. They have had talks with the town hall, the members of the club and I believe also with the tax authorities.

"We have to wait to see what concrete offers are made and discuss them with the board and the supporters. It is very important that we remain united - the success so far has been based on everyone pulling in the same direction."

Iglesias said that the local authority, which is a shareholder in the club, would not hand over its holding directly to enable ordinary fans to take over the club.

"We will set out to support a shareholder of standing who has the support of the fans, but that does not mean we would sign over any shares," he said. "My understanding is that the town hall must retain the management of the shares. Another thing would be, with the backing of the supporters, our support for a shareholder of standing, and we would let him manage the day to day running of the club."

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