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World's richest man saves Spanish soccer club

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim invested in Real Oviedo after fans came close to reaching required fundraising targets.

Story highlights

  • Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim invests $2.5 million in struggling Spanish club
  • Slim was impressed by efforts of fans who bought shares to save Real Oviedo
  • The third division club had a November 17 deadline to avoid extinction
  • Slim plans to create "synergies between Spanish, Mexican and Latin American football"

Real Madrid and Barcelona both comfortably won on Saturday, but for once Spain's two most dominant football clubs were overshadowed by a third-tier team which has been saved from extinction after receiving a huge injection of cash from the world's richest man, Carlos Slim.

Just over a decade ago Real Oviedo played in La Liga alongside Real and Barca, but mismanagement from the club's directors took the Asturian team to the brink of bankruptcy in recent years.

Needing to raise €1.9 million ($2.4 million) by November 17 or go bust, Oviedo's current board announced a share issue earlier this month to attract investment.

Remarkably the scheme took off as fans from all over the world bought the €11 ($13) shares after Oviedo's precarious position was highlighted on the social media website Twitter thanks to the efforts of Spanish football expert and long-time Oviedo supporter Sid Lowe.

Read: 'Monsters' Barca and Real hurting La Liga

Over the past two weeks those fans have bought more than $1.9 million in new shares in the club, and Slim was so impressed -- he described the gesture as "extraordinary" -- that the Mexican tycoon has now pumped in a further $2.5 million to become Oviedo's majority shareholder.

    "This challenge and ambition is strictly a sports investment and one that looks to benefit the club and its fans,'' said an Oviedo statement regarding Slim's intervention.

    "(The investment) will try to support Oviedo's players so they can reach their goals and the club can reach the division that corresponds to its history and values.''

    In September Slim bought 30% stakes in two Mexican football teams, Pachuca and Leon, and he plans to use Oviedo "to create synergies and exchanges between Spanish, Mexican and Latin American football.''

    Read: Can Twitter help save Spanish soccer club?

    According to Forbes magazine, Slim is the world's richest person with a net worth of $69 billion, having made his fortune in the telecommunications industry.

    His widespread interests include providing financial backing for Mexican Formula One driver Sergio Perez.

    "Naturally, I have reservations, doubts & concerns," tweeted Lowe on Saturday. "But with c. €2m of shares bought by 13,000+ ppl round world & Slim buying €2m Oviedo safe."

    "€1.93m raised by small shareholders alone," added Lowe. "They're the real heroes."

    Meanwhile, La Liga leaders Barcelona beat Real Zaragoza 3-1 to move six points clear of Atletico Madrid, who travel to Granada on Sunday.

    Lionel Messi scored two more goals to move to 78 for this calendar year, putting the Argentina star seven short of Gerd Muller's all-time record.

    Champions Real Madrid trounced Athletic Bilbao 5-1 to stay third, six points behind their arch-rivals.

    Cristiano Ronaldo played despite the eye injury he suffered last weekend, but this time the Portugal star was unable to add to his scoring tally as the spoils were shared by Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira after an early own-goal by Jon Aurtenetxe.

    In Italy, leaders Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw by fifth-placed Lazio.

    Second-placed Inter Milan can close to within two points of the Serie A champions by beating Cagliari on Sunday.

    Napoli joined Inter on 27 points after being held 2-2 by AC Milan, who came from two goals down as young striker Stephan El Shaarawy netted twice.

    In Germany, Bayern Munich moved eight points clear despite being held 1-1 away to struggling Bavarian rivals Nuremberg.

    Second-placed Schalke failed to take advantage, losing 2-0 at Bayer Leverkusen.

    Eintracht Frankfurt stayed third after a 4-2 win at home to Augsburg, a point above champions Borussia Dortmund -- who beat Greuther Furth 3-1.

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