Rebirth of the blues


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Sid Lowe's piece about Real Oviedo in the Summer 2005 World Soccer Magazine issue.

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Rebirth of the blues

  1. 1. · , ons, has been wildly celebrated InThe ~evlval of Real OViedo, who were relegated three divisions In two 5easlea9~e clubs in Spainthe City, but their recent plight has highlighted the problems fac .. glower cleM" wiler. most CIUlls gel abandoned and forgonen OWN N THE aepths, bryond ill. S! and Socood ~ ""Ie~ who are .mergng from the dark tunllt( DIvisIons (Primora and Sogunda A) 5P<1mYl lootball <a ...... compllCaled and almosl lorgon." hey may nol ~I""an, WD.j : ""I" ihemStlw 10 th., fate A club on have gone m for England·. lud~",", Premlmhlp. the" way up al .!St - ma" • to the supporter>. Champ"""h p and th"" leagut One nonsense, bill It. nol mal 0Md0 ... no WC II mb/eden, they are nol • fan, cO/leaNe much dearer And ItS far less succtSsful 1fCeed, a new T.JjOf sharehOlder has Just appeared They are, The Socond DMSloo B (Segund. 51IS In faci lour dlVl!lons, heM.... • cJb ...ho would have long • l(e 90"" under had I 107 2O-team groups ()(ganlS!d more or less rtg10naUy and made up of be.n lor the .1(1""01 their supporter~ the 00([19 of a hf odd fallen 91ant. th~ oc(aSlonal B tealfi frnm th( bn dlJb~ Jlnd commun ty thai lhoucJ~: iley deserved bener hat OvIedo were In the wrong place ha, be.n prov.n by gam. an.r gam. th" season and lasl For two years, lans have lurned up and ,qu.. zed ,n at flItche, all CM!r the provin" that had no tands and could bar.~ deal With hundreds. let alone Ov,edo, while aga"sl their hlstonc fLva~ Sporting GIJon, thiS S(lason, 16,000 attended· despite the lact :hat OvIedo were in fact playIng Sporllng arather than SportIng themselm (OVIedO aversus Sporting B In Segunda a, I d",Slon abo •• UStd 10 attratt a couple of hundred fan •.) Aga,nst Club AM Ihe citys other team and one fasl be<ornlflg the targel of <eal hatred, lhe scenes were even more b,zan. Astur play on Ih. counc, l-owned astroturf pitch behllld Real OvIedo, 2S,OOO<apaCity Carlos Tart"r. tadlum, a ground wltn a "pacify Iinft sides thai many hawnl ..en heard of - between Ihem the 20 for 200 VISiting ,upporo" (around 1,000 In 10tal), plus a few _ WI Group " haw Sllfot lust f1vt It.sons In the 1011 fl.ght In hundred more on the grassy banks above I . . . ClOf history wIIiIo IPIR &om Royo VIIlecJno and laS P.lma~ Nol nearly enough for the "traven ng" suppot1. so OvIedo 0jIened ... eN . . &om Group I has ., the Pnmt" up the Tartlffe. allowing over 2, SOO fa~ Plyng a wluntary entrance 1111 ,,*d DMsIan. . IS split intO I 7 groups. again f.., to watch the game from the gangways of the,< own stadIUm ..... 0120 _ -. wartd ","I" ,au "" fargtllbout mtdll _ _ . . l1*li ........ CIMfI!II, .... in ""* many matches PIfb. SOMebmts ....l1ooIdng the pnch next door An tNfily match watched from horne All of wIlich Undert,nes iusl how big Junes play-off f nal wIlIt a relief. OvIedo had by th.n Itcured a Itay of oxecutlon, their rNdIlIIt low Immtdlatt tcOnOml( SUMVII, but Ihey had 10 esca~ Ihe11"rd DtvtsIon - known as lhe WIll beaUIt ItS UIY enough to fall,nlo but Ublmt!y difficult 10 dimb OUI AYfar btfore, they had walktd IIItIr ,It41 only 10 be bNten on the play-olk by GahClan ~de An."o. ,.... MInueI t.fuentt admitted thai his economIC plan to ItCIIt lilt - . 01 tilt dub could only wor1t " Ov,edo won "_!lint thtydld, Thty dtftaled AVila ~,1 awa) ,n ..... lIrtiert IIIItch beame a party, • IIISlgunda8 IUIhId on to tilt The teal" ot_e"~ bIIcony of tO hall
  2. 2. "",,ctod. 100. thatll>e"! had deIlbmlty lailed to .~ nol a tYiXl9 raptliral ../Of Sulferlng ma.... dtbt> MIl amod Some" P ,.leijO~ to a ~"".., longer pan conlldnt bi!ltits b, tw..n Ihe m<ly1l< of 0vI0d0, Gabino Oolore-zo. i!gI"",.n~ t>y 9f!lrng~-. l "oj CMedo j no! , !he JP (lr_ •...soona! Foo...." fig.. , ~ hom Ihp Pan,do Popular. and Iht hen Soc,,1Sl evb presdPn1 fuytlnlO Pm·to. CMtdo v.. .. re rf~P.d from, f3-yt¥ "t tfI .he tt., ciub ~obe"o Losada WOS "51 or>! of l1ost -Mc OCI P":::~ !he club to be<:0ITl • fr.. aqen~ I11CJWog 0 act". de dubs Ooded the"!!:". S.les would ~ SMd Ovrodo but f 1"1 0"""00 .It Mallo"a on tho f naJ day of the 2000-0 I SO""" 1lN!y then f.,lod In IhM i!tempt to go s"a.ght bacJ 41, f: !lSI: l9 ""nfh in the Se<ono D"",IOO VI 2001 02 Ott~ "oe tw<Hl MS."" drop _ confirmed. o:Ioor dubs wa!lJng"" Wilh PritlO and Celso GooZ.Jlel. who had cootoll<d ~he d:b , off " l! , playe" lor free "11(0 • <loe mark" flotaDon n 1999, crmlJnuon<j ,~ 1qu.lXlef ?K A. f .. g:ea!eI hate fIgUre was, hoWE otf., abol.i~ to etTI(ige I -, o. .,.." Gonzalez One who would :::Joron. .._~ """,ey WOfSI was 10 Corne IhtIr on-golng pol ucal bi!~ M"e stgnlfKant. too, In a fragmented (ourtry of deep reglOral ldell ~ t 50 ;;: eld ~:a!:s 0. edos players ro up . e lQ lor , mpn I,om the town ... I balcony s Su",me:r .....neff clubs are (OnSI<itrM the representatives of theIr pTcw:nce5 Of (Itle~, and where OviedOS ground, the NNI Carlos Tartlere, to w!"1Ch un,., figu," "as Mayor De lor,,"zO Ovledos relegatiOn to thfY movPd 10 2000, was owned by the (ounCII Institutional " rd D~ISIOr1. h. decreed,s goalled • the end of 77 years ~ hslor/ upport was Vltdj - and It was about to bt" taken from them. eN edo are trl the [essentlalty amateur! nll~ DIVIS ~ ,eve 0 Ion , t the same and the players don t bolong to the c Jb any cap,ta, IS no [£28 ) T more, There I s a d~t of 7 000 mIllion pesetas t: u, . m 0 an"<Ga ~ This is a banl<ruptcy the size of ,. IS • lub alive would be to can the Qv,edo fans yet agar" Th, ,eep t"ec d h I th bankruptcy the Size of a , an t e on y In9 t at s left h IS to Sign the de.3th certificate· a cathedral- the only thing left The man who was set to Sign It was the mayor himself If h,s words mfurlated, his actions had fans In rabid fits. but h~ madvertentfy ended up Infusmg supporters With the crusadmg sP "It is to sign the death certificate they needed to keep therr club ali .. H,s may have been a loglCa even realistIC appra,sal but the fans rebelled - football IS not ju:! any old busmess_Some even saw De Lorenzos stance as d grasp to".............. the one area of publKlife m the AstUrias region. that evaded hi"· football If so, he miscalcu lated spectacularly...... So was the" fOOlballing hfellne OV were running up debts iedo of 0Yff £13mlilion and desperately needed 10 get baCK up to the ·Wp need to start from scratch,· De Lorenzo announced, and................... F,rst DivISIon Instead, the follOWing season, 2002·03, having been he was as good as his word, removrng the City counCils suppon for the club and rnstead throwrng Its werght behind Its other team,......... - forcod to "II a number of players, including goalkeeper E steban to Atlttico Madnd and mldflelder Bons to Real SOCiedad, they finished 21st out of nteams and were relegated - to the Thrrd Divi Sion Astur Club de futbel, provldrng them W £60,000·a·year backlOg ith That was lust the stan Astur changed thell name to OViedo Astu. (Oviedo AFC, 10 other words), changed the ir colours from red Yes. thf Third DIVision; two dlVIS!Ons III one go On the pitch, shilts with blue shom to OViedos traditional blue shilts and socks Mre relegfted to Second D,VIS,on S, off It they fell a With white short~ altered therr badge to look suspICiously Similar to MIon funhet; to theTh"d OViedos and even Signed a couple 01 former OViedo players A ...,.. of (Modo player~ including captln Oli, had not been Astur qUICkly became known to OViedo fans - R (and real) eal Iheit CIS. to the players Union, the AFE. Despite OViedo fans - as ,I engendra roughly, the freak foetus or ugly puttmg tog~ther a 16-man consortium, brainchild, a kmd of Frankenstems monster IIkInight deadline to meet the players II I hoIel 1lN! fatlureto pay the squad Fans rally round relegatIOn to the Third DIVision, Real OViedo fans took to the streets In mass demonstrations They SItuation meant they beyconed counol·run liestas T·shlm declaring "I didnt abandon minus six points. OViedo 10 the Th"d D,vIS,on sold 10 the" thousands OViedO bnng. IIIInIId the players. but and·buy sales sprung up at the stadium, fans selling old shim, their money scarves and memorabilia, with all the proceeds gOing to the club, A ISked h,m, real CIVIC reaction had been sparked, whICh many local bUSinesses the backed - the spons shop that now sells OViedo shins on behalf of debts lhe club does so Without taking a cut. And, abeve all, season·tlCket sales rocketed, over 10,000 With" i couple of month~ SOon IISing to over 12,000 _ more than many First OMSlon clubs and unheard of down In the Thlld D,VlSlon ~ Lafuente, who has recovered much of the credibility 10$1 hlndling of the double-relegation, puts it "WithO t tl1< U be dead. They knew It was In danger and they 1I1ht front of ~rythlng and ,n fronl of everything have repeated the now fan ,us . AI".. - the club s ,v 1ht names of the.. me"lbe, "Juan" aco foetus W11 barely att: bulla r 10 sea
  3. 3. 11 ......... Ipl1 .. 4 ... ; __ I ..... -- 11 _ .5 • I. 51 IIliI1g ahtad of Astur despite the s il<>Int pena The d!ffat was a setback, although off the field the ckil wete ~-qj ."uds solvency. With some Success a ~ deal " k. tile Pnoopallty of Astunas, of which Ovie«> G the ca: De Lorenzo realised his mistake - polillcaUy. at least _ and ;d IJI(!1JaCked Finally apprec, atlfl9 that he could not bea ~ fchan9ed hIS posture entlfely in the autumn of 2()()4 Tc ho ,;wosoon III the City counCil It appeared little lI""e "., if OItllr to dean up hIS Image In front of Oviedo fans.1erha;ls. ru Io:!t was vltdl for the club Survival was at last secured dainnao Da-ro tAou;ls Haw1g negotiated the suspenSion of debts totalhng £24", <N.tdo S 1Kt!1111fStay tNt C!fd t~ Lafuente succeeded In persUading De lorenzo to p: o?!: ¥f lit awnership m agam recogmse Real OViedo as the CityS represen>.a· ,e C: can be 10 ,~ ac-. t ::.Jtfrd .ht £60,000 funding was removed from AsM and De l~el12O ~I fIoIy (jraoI c.l qetd to foot the bill for the Ca~os Tartlere. as well as p;!J i4ll.IlOO-worth of tICkets for each game. whiCh would :ne" be rid out to schoolchildren and agreeing to s~ a share toilSe funds. Hopping on to the bandwagon, he Mn ~, =If a member of the dub. "I neither forg;ve lOI forget lad iafueue. "but f needs be, Ill pact Wit~ the de • ts good Real Oviedo. " lit ".ad a poUlt A deal wah the cOUflOI was certamly JeCessaryIIJ • - the year Ov edo were 1lak1ng :ne~ f~s! tema: i/e seps:act De lorenzo InslSli09 that he, too. was delig ed to see ~.alNay out of the well. Few were under iII1Y ~ ~.~~ a back mg confirmed sU!VIVal butR was roo:ed And nor are OviedO entICely safe yet f as - I i " ~!ley won promotion at the second time 0 asl:Illg, 1e backdrop of those 25,000 fans. a TI> d 0IlSI0I1-ned; i"_>( ~ one of the dubs captains. Alto! AdeOI1dO, pnx aJ lit ioed at lots of dubs, but I have nevfr see,n anyttung .. ..,- DIllq s. Jviedos fans are the best In the ~ J1rltr WI a • :;e lie. meanwhile summed up OvIedo sp., witIt fi . the one that u.ue (MtS thr ~ actrearrsm OUr IfSlloy, "en theY 9 SUMVaI, IS Ilice the leelrng a pnso1fC~ WlIS IiIr2 tNI ..Cl off !!tath row. Our second. !hiS ptOI~ IIId IhClrbti). being released on parole. " ....-.ad_r I11III* 90 but OvIedo 11M fIIIIIIIId /Iape.. . . . SIOr-y his shoWII . _ all iIId hI5 9W" hapf 10 ItIrfI it_ &jonl, IIdIIIinI5
  4. 4. ":;." .",if t a f.... •_ ~ ,jQ 0 """""" • ..... cooct --+r fll .• ~~ :catJOn ..- 1• ~:.- "Anv oid idIOt QIl un. count:). ~ VOl! e • of paper ,.. So" on a bt:JX:I • 0 f e"""" iW ed to be RaCIn!i day tlf!tga1t Tho fede .taI re used flo aWM!d to be. -man lht fedel o::::c e!tJstd ~e thtatentd tD buy up PIe"l SII1if.e t--•. row se and ~- orders through a ""9apllott<. btlore hat&. "9 • ~ ~e named II/nsel! the dubs c~ phOtographer and. cornpitte with orange p> b.b. grabbed a prune tOU<: • lext to the dug-out (:nout a came-a. P,ennan was por1r.l~ as a "IIa 1 But Ie ~as a lot of "" and letms :0 knov. more or loss what "" ~ dOing >jaw at AIM,loIt ..rty ... having sold ~~ shares at RaCIng. he has led thom back to the I "Chlilio fII.. ...Into ... ...... L""!! . r MKh~tl Rob 1On has carelully and ..~~ o .= H. IS also ttIe !lOre than a product of he SAD law. stefcf(j (adll bacl from n!~IS to the flnt DIVISion. In th~ mal" _eone who IS brutally honest about the way Ie WlOr/u ManyCJf tlelnl AlitMlaltPc,li1 hough the AD IJw has bten an abiOCl1atlur..... nh comb,ned presidents "Y to !.lie SpOrting polICY. but .lit a few do t 0 ~iN 2Il Ulln c ub, fa<hmg fl.08Om and having opened up SP<J h c to lho wi: mSlhat Manthest., United fans now feJ/ w,th Power still the key Malcolm GI.lm At thf mot ttltlTlf find. an undercover telFVIs _, One .f he stokmg lealUres • !he coverage of "Iazer s programme howtd Ont footbJll.~.nt eplatnng ho... my ,t re<ent takeover of Maoch..ter vntted ha, been the way ,n wlllclt would bt 0 buy up lpo",ng u,/on and u.. ,t as a Ironl/or B"t~h reportS have held up Real Madnd and Barcelona a. a rtng fTIOneJ romantIC altema".. model, ooe of true identity ano !Nt is an ISOlated .,ample. of course. and nany clubs are In pnnople. they are. of course. nght Madrid. Barcelona. Ath/tVC I .m txtr well .nd With $tns1tlVlty towards thf tans. But even and Osasuna J/e owned by therr fans, they are democratIC among thosl who MVt supporttd thE."lr dubs there are serious Inst,tutlOns Supporters nted not. as Real Madrid preSIdent Q~tlOr marl !i .bout rna/or shart"holdtIl and presidents FIorentino Perez and much of the press have constantly ~Ist~, lnotmally ~ and Ihe !<Ime) fEldf the arrival of -some 011 magnate". Should their presjrjpFi do 8ft ) Mtnut" RUll dp tOptId, who nlad(l hiS fortune from something thaI goes agarnst the club. they can be vOled Oul ono "nd PI s.or" Wllh huge rat.. 01 101 .....t. ha, managed But in practice, faced With elections every tOUf yeari. the to 9" ed In as pMldent ,n perpetuity deSPlt. an pesidenDal rnod<>l ",,t pertee! Power ,s stliliho key. t IS lust t t on b; the Inland RPVtnuP a "umbO! of .."ou, ~ tical rather than economIC POW" TIe med.a gelS man."",,tf<! t_ made agalnt h.m and a J< l oltllnsparen,y In the c<Jb account>. Meanwhile. hI> oppolte numbO! alle~",. and elect"" campa.gns can bt d,rty. ""I dirty fans on bt .""",d from whats ealry go"g on .t the" club. thoy can be pnced ~- of ~ Ma ct.1 N ha, a sound oconoml< pohcy but hI> claim the,r seats and cao still ....tch the., dub run .nto the 9rO.:.ld t bt"thf "lOSt ""por"nt "",n <IT StvIIIf .h.r the Pope" says The political pressure can prove too 9reat. prompting muctt ibOut ~r many btl .... dub pr.wency can Ixmq presidents to letk .mmedlate••lectlOnwlnntng solut.Ofl< WI a And t ,mor. M aga prMident Soralin RoId.Jn I a "mlled helf Me. fanner Barca preWent Gaspa" blew 0Ye1 f • )()rr. SfIf-conmIfd BMcelona Ian an Argenlinlan named Dan,.1 ,n "ule more than a sea.on trying to ecover from the shock of GrlnbInl tool< owr lP9..... kist ,eason. brought lIT " ArgonM,an lOSing luIS flga to Real Madr,d and Win back a"- ~ot ooe of ..,., IIId .... gent Wlth.n ~, mondl< when It lurned out Ihe playe" he bought du"ng the spree IS till at th<! Iub .. dldnl" .. "" monty.her .til. and btner shar.holder As Ont lormer Madnd player (and ncould lUst as easily IIIaIIs _ tilt __ "1!Of1 V.IfIXllItost the _t ,uem,ful have been a Barca player) confided • Because the pre. dl"l ... ~ fllWllIertOz. who ha. now won 01 CIIUIII. .. " d." Domt1rI PitermMI•• bogeyman for think he m.ght get only fOUl he es to SIgn supe": n ano do b.g, 0 that people remembtr him and Iklt ho can make an Impa<I 5pIII/III pIW (l1li., hIrshIy.o) lht Uk .."".. That IS not always gOOd news for the club The fact 1 Rr 26 Nrt 01 R«tng Madrid have WlDn nothng for two season, IS not d ~11l( e It be CIIIdI 50, lit IICbd ""el. "ke Pltflman. IS more than happy to have a h~nd "lui SpenisII ruin selectIOn He JUSt wouldnl m.t II And nor are de!r.s fIIr(oJ or Mldtlel. who do not have the same oconorr • - "."", pfICId,~ dttm mud1 to the annoyance of the SAfc hid It MIl .... trIInlng ground 10 SUfVIW Bare.IoM ,.~c ktID . . . . ..,. . . . . . .sCUlllntPfSldlnt, Joan Uporta who ...... It~.tlltdlb.~ • . . • luulllil "*IfiDIIscnhop with tilt IbsoIute