- Real Oviedo's story has become an instant Twitter sensation as football fans snap up shares
- Now in the third tier, Real Oviedo developed players like Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and Michu
- Club received over €1 million in just nine days, with €274,000 of that from people from Twitter
In an age when Russian oligarchs and Arab Sheikhs spend billions of dollars on forging the perfect dream team, fan ownership has become a novelty for many of Europe's top soccer clubs. But it is a route that might just be the salvation of struggling Spanish team Real Oviedo, thanks to a social media campaign that has gone viral.
Once a top-flight contender with La Liga heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona, the 86-year-old club -- based in the northern mining region of Asturias -- has until Saturday to raise €1.9 million ($2.4 million) or face extinction.
So far Oviedo has received over €1 million in a period of just nine days -- with €274,000 coming from those who heard about it via Twitter, according to board member Juan Ramon. There is a Twitter hashtag set up -- #saverealoviedo.
The football community is also doing its part to save the third division club, whose "cantera" youth academy -- or quarry -- is responsible for unearthing some of the gems of Spanish football. Names such as World Cup winner Juan Mata, Arsenal's little magician Santi Cazorla and Swansea's star striker Michu are all graduates.
The English Premier League stars have joined forces to help save their former club, while Real Madrid legend Raul has bought €1,000 worth shares to keep Oviedo in business.
Real Oviedo and Sporting de Gijon are the two major clubs in Asturias, once the heartland of Spanish coal mining and one of the country's most prosperous regions.
But its coal industry has receded and the European debt crisis has engulfed Spain. Substantial investment has been hard to find as the Spanish government grapples with harsh austerity measures and chronic unemployment.