FC Timisoara is out of the Champions League and Liga I. Gloria Bistrita follows the Viola in the third division!
31st of March was the deadline to present the needed documents to get the professional licence and the right to play in Liga I next season. Of the 18 clubs, 8 (FC Timisoara, Gloria Bistrita, Universitatea Craiova, Gaz Metan Medias, FCM Targu Mures, CFR Cluj, Victoria Branesti and Unirea Urziceni) were denied it due to a lack of evidence that they had cleared all debt, but they all launched an appeal sending more documents to a special comittee, lead by a certain Viorel Duru (duru = tough, strict in Romanian!).
Duru held today a press conference and announced that five of the eight clubs will not be granted the right to play in Liga I next season. But, if Victoria Branesti, Universitatea Craiova and Unirea Urziceni were relegated anyway, the real victims are FC Timisoara and Gloria Bistrita. Timisoara, who finished the league in 2nd place, was undefeated for two thirds of the previous season, fought for the title until the very last round and had qualified for the Champions League’s preliminary rounds will probably go down all the way to the Romanian third tier!
The reasons? If Gloria Bistrita had debt towards the state’s budget, Timisoara, besides a similar issue, also failed to pay 1.2 million Euros of the 2.3 million Euros the club had agreed to pay Benfica Lisbon for the Romanian left-back Laszlo Sepsi.
In fact, this second reason also determined UEFA to eliminate FC Timisoara from the Champions League and it is thought that this call – although UEFA has no right to intervene in the licensing process of a certain country - had determined the Romanians to stay firm on the initial decision and not grant the licence for Liga I!
What’s certain: FC Timisoara will not play in the Champions League next season, but an exception can be found next Thursday, when the Executive Comitee of the Romanian Football Federation will meet to either confirm or deny this decision, which means that only then we will now for sure if and where the two clubs will be relegated from Liga I.
If Gloria Bistrita had little to say and no real power to change things in its favor – although this was the club heavily involved in match fixing before and after 1989, playing a big part in establishing league winners, fabricating goalscorers (remember the Golden Boot scandal) and relegated teams – FC Timisoara will go down with a bang. The bosses already said that they will fight in every possible way this decision, saying among others that they had reached an agreement with Benfica over the delayed payments in Sepsi’s case, and that the current ownership will stay with the team even if relegated to the fourth tier. They will try to take action in Lausanne, but also in civil court, where they will ask to be returned Balkan Petroleum’s investment in the club, calculated at around 40 million Euros.
Do stick around, updates will follow!