Once the Champions League draw ends, three European clubs and the huge number of football they can surely put together will try to find out more about Cluj, the city of Romanian champions, CFR. Well, if foreigners have every right to think of this club whenever they hear the city’s name – given the recent success and European exposure –, Romanians know that, first of all, this is the home of Universitatea. A club with an impressive history that managed to keep a strong bond with the majority of local fans, in spite of mediocre performances in recent years – something that couldn’t even come close to what CFR achieved in the past decade.
Well, the patience and fidelity of the fans will be tested once again, as a period of torment started with the departure of club owner and major investor Florian Walter to Petrolul Ploiesti (alongside a dozen of the team’s best players from last season) will now reach its climax. The club’s new president, Ana Maria Prodan, who is none other than the wife of Steaua’s coach, Laurentiu Reghecampf – Romanian football, always surprising! -, made her move, after several threats of taking Universitatea away from its fans, unless financial support will come from the local authorities.
An official statement says that until the end of the current season, U will play its home games in Buzau, some 400 km away from Cluj. The team will abandon not only its home town, but also a brand new stadium, the impressive Cluj Arena (Elite category, 30.335 seats, re-built in 2011 and branded for Universitatea – this is the reason why CFR recently declined the chance to play there Champions League matches!), to move to a venue that offered shelter to other clubs in dark periods of their history: Steaua Bucuresti, Petrolul Ploiesti and Otelul Galati.
A terrible decision that will surely generate an answer from the club’s passionate fans. And I’m afraid it’s not going to be a nice one, as they’ve often produced when supporting the Red Caps…
Vital game for CFR Cluj tonight, with four rounds to go in the Romanian top flight, as Universitatea, the local arch-rivals await. Fans of the Red Caps burn CFR’s flags on their way to the brand new Cluj Arena, but the goalkeeper of the home team, Mircea Bornescu, will do something worse only 30 minutes after the first whistle. Bornescu lost it and went after CFR’s captain Cadu , who converted a penalty and went behind the goal for a wild celebration. The kick started a fight that forced the ref to send off both players and stop the game for 15 minutes, but Cadu was once again attacked on his way to the dressing room and CFR’s coach Ioan Andone refused to let the players come back on the pitch, asking for the game to be stopped, as he considered the environment too dangerous…
Bornescu’s crazy act will do CFR a great favor and will add to a rivalry that didn’t need another sparkle. Not to mention the controversy added to another title that is now only three steps away from Arpad Paszkany’s club.
Safe, after an excellent second half of the season (only three points less of this year’s most efficient teams, FC Vaslui and FC Timisoara), Universitatea Cluj aims to keep on developping as a club, under the ambitious new owner, Florian Walter, on a brand new stadium and with the backing of the excellent fan-base.
One decision has caught the eye though, as Walter announced the intention to name the 34 years old mildfielder Gabriel Bostina vicepresident of the board, starting next month, but without asking him to give up his playing career.
So, Bostina will see off his current deal as a professional footballer, which expires in June 2012, but will also take part in the club meetings, have the right to sign papers within and for the club and should be a liaison between the players and the staff. An interesting role for an interesting character, as Bostina has always been regarded as an intelligent person and a true professional, in a career that has seen him play for just four clubs in Liga I, with two of them being the arch-rivals from Bucharest, Steaua and Dinamo.
He’s just played his 300th match in Liga I and he will always have this game fresh in his memory, as he was sent-off in the 92nd minute, after he had converted a penalty, in the 2-0 win against Sportul Studentesc, for pulling his shirt over his face, without taking it off. But poor decisions by the refs don’t make the headlines in Romania for a long, long time, now…