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Real Oviedo out of immediate danger of folding

OVIEDO, Spain (AP) -- Thanks to the generosity of its fans and an accounting error, indebted Spanish soccer club Real Oviedo will live to play another match.

Club president Toni Fidalgo said Thursday that Oviedo had staved off immediate financial doom after an external auditor discovered that the club's immediate debts were significantly lower than originally thought.

Instead of needing $2.4 million, the historic club needed $1.4 million to avoid being forced by law to dissolve on Saturday.

Oviedo's fundraising effort of selling new shares in the club has already surpassed that amount, bringing in $1.9 million since Nov. 3.

Fidalgo said that the accounting error was based on the omission from the previous audit of the money Oviedo was due for the transfer of former player Juan Mata from Valencia to Chelsea, along with some advertising revenue.

Oviedo will continue to sell new shares for $13.74, down from $77 at its initial offering 20 years ago, with the club needing another $1.3 million to ensure its viability this season.

"Now we have to keep working to make sure Oviedo can stay afloat until the end of the season," club spokesman David Alonso told The Associated Press.

Fidalgo, who is acting as Oviedo's caretaker president after former president Alberto Gonzalez was charged with tax evasion and went into hiding, said that the club has had various contacts with investors looking to take over the club through the purchase of a controlling stake.

"We have spoken with 12 investors. Our position with respect to some is very distant, with others it is very close," Fidalgo told Spanish sports daily AS. "I believe Oviedo will have a happy ending."

Oviedo spent 38 seasons in Spain's top division before being relegated in 2001 and then falling as far as the fourth division. Besides Mata, players such as Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla, Swansea's Miguel "Michu" Perez, and Atletico Madrid's Adrian Lopez have played for Oviedo. The team currently plays in the third division.

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