Introducing Huercal Overa Club de Futbol
Real Madrid and Barcelona are widely regarded as the two greatest clubs in world football at the moment. But what about the rest of Spanish football? Not the likes of Valencia and Athletic Bilbao, but further down the pyramid.
This season, Total Football will focus on Huercal Overa - a club playing on the border of Almeria and Murcia, at the fourth tier in Spanish football.
There is a huge passion for the game in Spain, but we wanted to find out the real story behind a small club like Huercal Overa. The players, the fans, the finances. What makes a club like Huercal Overa tick?
Here, Huercal Overa director Lee Rickard-Graham brings us up to speed with preparations for the start of the season.
Real Spain, real football...
When you think of football in Spain, I would imagine most of you will automatically think of Barcelona and Real Madrid which is only natural.
But beyond the glory of La Liga, there is a solid underbelly of lower league football that can be enjoyed.
This is where my story begins. I moved to a small town called Huercal Overa nearly six years ago. It's a town on the border of Almeria and Murcia provinces and is very much the REAL Spain.
I have become involved with the local football team here at director level, integrating the expat fans and looking at the commercial aspect of the club.
Huercal Overa Club De Futbol has essentially been reborn over the past few years with the leadership of young club president Andres Navarro Forraje, who took control of the club after it was dissolved in 2007 due to financial problems.
Since then the club has achieved promotion every year - and, in terms of expectations, this year is no different.
Last season the club gained promotion to the Tercera Division Group 13 (at the fourth tier in the Spanish league structure) and on September 2 we will play our fist game of the new season at home in 'El Hornillo' (The Oven), our home stadium. We are hoping to get a good crowd of around 1,500 to cheer on the new squad and coach.
First team coach Alonso Parra Perez has a wealth of experience at professional level in the Segund B Division in Spain with Lorca, where he was the fitness coach. We are very pleased that he has signed with Huercal Overa CF as he will bring experience and a fresh outlook for the new campaign.
Depth, quality and experience
He has brought in five new signings that have given the squad much more depth, quality and experience, players that have played in Spanish Under 18s tournaments and with top clubs (Espanyol and Almeria).
The new season promises to a challenging one as of course there is not just the football on the park that needs to be of high quality, but the commercial and day to day running of the club needs to be addressed also.
From ground maintenance to public relations, for a semi pro club this can all be very time consuming as all the board of directors have their own careers.
My initial directive is to grow the club brand and increase revenue via the turnstiles and from sponsors. Getting people through the door is much easier when you have good squad of players that play attractive football, which we certainly have this season.
A bigger challenge is attracting sponsors. As we play in the Murcian region, large companies have little interest in supporting clubs of our stature, as there are not a great amount of opportunities to promote sponsors outside of our region.
But with help from Total Football, Spanish websites and the press here, we hope that this will give us more potency for potential investors and sponsors.
Each week I will bring you details on how the club is progressing on the pitch and off it. We will also give you an insight on an expat supporters' life here in the Tercera Division Group 13.
By Lee Rickard-Graham, Director, Huercal Overa Club De Futbol
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