Recreativo de Huelva face a race against time to avoid extinction

The eyes of the soccer world, quite rightly, are tuned to a pair of rather big international tournaments, Euro 2016 and Copa Centenario. However by the time both competitions end, Spain could see it’s oldest club disappear from existence.

Recreativo de Huelva requires 2 million euros by June 30 in order to survive.

It was only 10 years ago when El Decano humbled the Galacticos of Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. The Andalusian team walked away with a famous 3-0 win against a Real side containing Ronaldo, Fabio Cannavaro, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Raúl and David Beckham. It was a fitting tribute to four Recreativo fans who lost their lives in a bus crash on their way to the game.

The club’s origin can be traced back to 1878 where football, tennis and cricket were brought to Río Tinto by a group of Englishmen and Scots who moved to Huelva to work for mining companies.

Scottish doctors William Alexander Mackay and Robert Russell Ross initially formed the club in order to provide the workers in the mines the opportunity to exercise. Huelva Recreation Club was born on the 18th of December 1889 when the first official board meeting took place with the founding charter signed a few days later on the 23rd.

Success though has been fleeting. The closest Recreativo de Huelva has come to major silverware was when they lost out to RCD Mallorca in the 2003 Copa del Rey final. Indeed they have only spent five seasons in Spain’s top division.

The club has seen some famous players grace its pitch ranging from Luis Aragonés to Antonio Valencia to Martin Cáceres to Santi Cazorla. The Arsenal player played for Recreativo in their famous win against Real.

Right now though the club is facing its greatest battle. According to, the website set-up to save the club; Recreativo must pay off the debt to the Royal Spanish Football Federation, the players via the Association of Spanish Footballers and to prepare for the next season. The amounts are €750,000, €1,000,000 and €250,000 respectively.

If the club cannot raise the funds by the 30th of June they will be relegated to the fourth tier of Spanish football and will be doomed to dissolution.

According to former Liverpool and current Recreativo midfielder Antonio Nuñez the situation isn’t pretty.

“We owe around 20m euros, mostly in taxes,” he confided to Azi Farni of the BBC in March. “Two years ago the tax office blocked all the money coming into the club. That’s why we are not receiving our wages and that’s why we can’t sign any new players. We currently have just 14 players in the first team and we are playing with our kids from the second team.”

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