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…
For almost an entire year, Gabriel Bostina has been playing a double role for Universitatea Cluj. Unfortunately for him, the position acquired in the club’s board didn’t earn him any favors from the technical staff, who recently punished the central midfielder. Twice. First of all, Bostina lost the armband during one of the training camps from Antalya for some unknown disciplinary problems and now the player & vice president has suffered further embarrassment being sent to train with the reservers “for an unlimited period”.
Currently injured, he failed to show up for the weekend training sessions that were going to be supervised by the club’s medical staff, so the former Otelul, Steaua and Dinamo man is now part of a team that plays in the Romanian third tier. The decision belongs to Ionut Badea, the coach, and the club owner is yet to take a stand. Wouldn’t make sense to see the vice president banned as well from the board meetings and ask to babysit the other members’ kids while the grown-ups discuss professionally about the club’s present and future?
- Former Steaua and Universitatea Craiova striker, Valentin Badea (27), found an agreement with Politehnica Iasi until the end of the season and will try to help the club avoid relegation. Badea played just under 150 matches in the top flight, scoring 47 goals in the process, but has also international experience, having played and scored for Steaua in European competitions.
- Dinamo’s eternal reserve goalie, Florin Matache (27), has finally left the club, and not on another loan deal. “The Liberec hero”, as nicknamed after his last excellent display for the Red Dogs, agreed to a move to Universitatea Cluj, in the second division, but the club has an excellent chance of promotion at the end of the current season. Matache will stay in Cluj for two and a half years and joins other former Dinamo players (used mainly in the reserve team), like Andrei Nitu (central defender), George Busca (versatile defender), Nicolae Musat (left back), Dan Busca (defensive midfielder), Valentin Lemnaru (striker) and Andrei Voican (striker). All joined the club since last summer, when former Dinamo shareholder took over Universitatea and started an ambitious project for the most beloved club from Cluj.