Unicaja Banco Oviedo, which plays in the second category of Spanish basketball, will take to the court this Thursday to play for promotion to the ACB knowing that next season it will not be able to count on the financial support of its sponsor for the last four seasons. This was communicated to the club by Unicaja just a few days ago, just after qualifying for those promotion play-offs, which the Oviedo team starts tomorrow at home against Zunder Palencia.
As ABC has been able to confirm, the bank has decided to end the sponsorship that Oviedo Baloncesto and Liberbank, the entity that absorbed Unicaja last year, maintained since 2018. A month before that merger was completed, in June 2021, Liberbank renewed its agreement with the Oviedo club for this season for 125,000 euros, which represents about 15% of Oviedo Basketball's current budget.
A few weeks later, Liberbank merged with Unicaja, which thus became the official sponsor and name of the team during this season in the silver category. But, once this first year of the agreement that it inherited from Liberbank has ended, Unicaja has decided not to renew it and so communicated it to the board last week.
The club trusts that this economic situation will not affect the squad from a sporting point of view ahead of the decisive appointment that begins this Thursday to be promoted to the highest category. Something that has been close to achieving several times during the last decade. Not in vain, in its 18 years of history it has played up to 7 of the last 9 phases of promotion to the ACB.
If he succeeds, he would need at least a budget of 2.5 million euros to play in the national basketball elite, which would force him to triple the little more than 800,000 that he now manages in the LEB League. An even more difficult challenge considering that it is going to be left without its main private sponsor and that the socioeconomic situation of the country in general and of Asturias in particular is not very conducive to obtaining sponsorships of that dimension, as the Oviedo entity itself recalls .
Oviedo Basketball changed the sponsor it had until 2018, the Asturian Financial Union, at the initiative of Liberbank itself so that the team could continue to grow financially, as it has shown with the sporting results. Four years later, the bank that absorbed Liberbank in July 2021 and assumed said sponsorship, stops collaborating with those 125,000 euros per season.
Club sources explain ABC that Oviedo Baloncesto has informed the mayor of the city, Alfredo Canteli (PP), and the regional president, Adrián Barbón (PSOE), of this situation. This periodical has consulted for this matter both in the Consistory and in the Dirección General de Deportes del Gobierno Asturiano.
Both administrations assured ABC today that they had no evidence that Unicaja had made that decision to stop sponsoring one of the most representative teams in the capital and the Asturian community. The Oviedo City Council collaborates with the club with 175,000 euros per season and sports facilities, while the Principality of Asturias subsidizes it with just 15,000.
Asked about this matter, Unicaja insists to ABC that the sponsorship is in force and that the decision to end it "has not been made", since it will be decided "at the time". However, the term expires in just one month, at the end of June. And, above all, the club itself confirms and reaffirms to this newspaper that Unicaja has already officially communicated its intention not to continue as the official sponsor of Oviedo Basketball.
This bank sponsors another ACB team, such as Unicaja de Málaga, with around 7 million euros per season through the entity itself and its foundation.