In a world where private investment into football clubs is the norm and the number of sole owners grow each year in the hope of glory on the pitch, four Spanish teams have resisted this temptation.
La Liga trio Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao are among those and have been incredibly successful during their histories but the final one is who we focus on this week, and a side that are an unexpected inclusion in this elite group, CA Osasuna.
Like the other three, Los Rojillos are owned by their fans, through membership where they can become ‘socios’, which allows them a say in the running of their club.
Stuck between La Liga and Segunda Division
The Pamplona-based club in the Navarre region were formed in 1920 and have spent most of their existence between the top and second divisions.
While they have yet to win the La Liga title, they have finished fourth twice in their history, along with finishing runners-up in the Copa del Rey in 2005, losing to Real Betis in the final.
Four Segunda division trophies are their only honours so fair in almost a century may not seem like much success, but it is their achievement in resisting against wealthy individuals looking to turn the club into a money-making or attention-seeking business.
Small club, big army of fans
Currently, Osasuna have nearly 16,000 ‘socios’ or partners. By comparison, in December 2014, Barcelona had around 140,000, according to Mundo Deportivo, while in the same year, Real Madrid announced that they had nearly 92,000 members.
For the size of the El Clasico clubs, Osasuna do not lack support from their fans and while many will point to having wealthy owners allows them to spend money on new players, Los Rojillos have spent the second-most amount on transfers in the Segunda Division this season, albeit behind Barcelona B.
Osasuna have also spent more than two top-flight clubs, including fellow fan-owned side Athletic Bilbao and Gran Canaria team UD Las Palmas.
While there is no doubt that a rich individual would be able to pump money into the club, the ‘socios’ ownership method provides Osasuna will culpability and allows for a more democratic system in how the team is ran.
There is still a chairman and board of directors that make most of the decisions for the El Sadar outfit, but these are elected by their members, meaning no-one can buy their way in. And that is how they will remain for the foreseeable future, and should they gain top-flight football next season, Osasuna will only grow and show it is possible to succeed with your fans also being your owners.