The news advanced this Wednesday by ABC about Unicaja's decision to stop sponsoring Oviedo Basketball just when the promotion phase to the highest category of Spanish basketball begins has caused numerous reactions. And not only among political leaders, but also among the fans of the most important basketball club in the Principality, which is facing another opportunity to make history in Asturian sport by including for the first time a representative of this community in the ACB, the elite of the national basketball.
This same Thursday, the Minister of Culture and head of Sports of the Asturian Government (PSOE), Berta Piñán, has pronounced on it, who has shown her "full support" for Oviedo Basketball and trusts that it can "redirect and reverse" the Unicaja's decision.
Piñán has highlighted that this bank "has to have a very special link with Asturias", since Unicaja absorbed entities of Asturian origin such as Liberbank. The same one that started that sponsorship of 125,000 euros with Oviedo Basketball in 2018 and that renewed it last year just before merging with Unicaja, which has only kept it for one season.
The opposition has also reacted. The regional deputy and spokesperson for Ciudadanos Sports (Cs), Sergio García, has already registered several parliamentary initiatives for the counselor to report on the specific measures that the regional Executive intends to adopt to prevent Unicaja from abandoning sponsorship not only of Oviedo Basketball, but from other teams in the Principality.
And it is that, as reported by 'El Comercio' (from the same editorial group as ABC), Unicaja is going to stop sponsoring other Asturian women's teams, such as the La Calzada Handball Club, which plays in the honor division, or the Abda de Avilés Also basketball. For this reason, the Cs Sports spokesman will ask the government of the socialist Adrián Barbón in the regional Parliament if he is going to do everything in his power to avoid this situation.
The municipal government, for its part, remains silent on the matter and insists that it is not aware that Unicaja's decision is final, despite the fact that the club told it so several days ago. Who has done it is the councilor of Somos Oviedo, Rubén Rosón, to show his indignation with Unicaja for what he calls "a new plunder of the sponsorship work and the social work of the old Cajastur", a precedent of Liberbank itself which Unicaja absorbed in 2021.
Rosón considers that those 125,000 euros are "a trifle in Unicaja's accounts" and urges him to reconsider his decision to leave Oviedo Baloncesto. In addition, the councilor of Somos makes the bank ugly for taking this measure "at the worst possible moment", when the club "should be focused on trying to play the play-off again to climb to the highest category of Spanish basketball."
Even more forceful have been the fans and followers of Oviedo Basketball, who have reacted on social networks with strong criticism against Unicaja. And not only for stopping sponsoring the club, but also for how and when it was communicated, a few days before the promotion phase to the ACB begins this Thursday with the first play-off game, which is played away from home against Zunder Palencia.
Also for the response that the bank itself offered yesterday, assuring that the agreement is still in force and that the decision to renew it or not will be made "at the time." An explanation that has provoked more criticism, since the club itself confirms that the decision had already been made and communicated for days. And because, in any case, Oviedo Basketball must finalize its economic and sporting plans in the coming days for the new season while Unicaja has yet to confirm whether it will be able to count on this sponsorship, which represents up to 15% of the club's budget.
All of the above is confirmed by the general director of Oviedo Basketball, Héctor Galán, who today confirmed to ABC that, when Unicaja told them a few days ago of its decision to end the sponsorship, "our responsibility was to inform the institutions that collaborate with the club and we did so”, in reference to the Oviedo City Council and the Asturian Government, which contribute 175,000 and 15,000 euros per year, respectively.
Galán adds that this decision by the bank generates "a very serious problem at all levels" for the Oviedo club, both financially and sportingly, since "it hardly leaves us room" to find another sponsor before registering the team for the new season in the following days.
The general director regrets that this setback for Oviedo Basketball comes just when the club is "in a great moment and in one of the best seasons" in its history, for which he assures that "we do not fully understand the reasons for this decision" for part of Unicaja. "The truth is that no one has explained them to us," laments Galán for "the complicated situation" in which this sponsor has put Oviedo Basketball.