Relegation isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a Romanian first division club this season. Terrible management, caused mainly by a lack of planning, unsupported ambitions and unrealistic wages, has eventually returned with what could be a deadly bite in the ass.
The first club to raise the white flag was Rapid, at the end of last year. The first effect: a massive clear-out, with basically all the important players allowed to leave on a free transfer, including the Montenegro international Vladimir Bozovic, one of the foreign players with the most appearances in Liga 1 (The all-time leader is CFR’s skipper, Ricardo Cadu – 169 games). From a title contender, Rapid, who lies now in 9th place, 8 points above relegation zone, will rather look behind than ahead, as club owner George Copos decided to put the club into administration. Copos has been saying for years that he is willing to sell the club, but in the meantime did nothing to really work on clearing or at least reducing the level of debt that scared away any possible investor.
Gloria Bistrita followed shortly, but this call was met with less sympathy in Romania. The club that raised the likes of Viorel Moldovan and Lucian Sanmartean has a rather dark history under the reign of Jean Padureanu. Nicknamed The Lord, the 76 years old president of this small club was a key figure in a very developed scheme of fixed matches that for years played the leading role in deciding who wins the title, who goes into Europe and who relegates to the second division. Obviously, Gloria had no worries of going down, being allowed to run with very low costs and also make a profit from a plan that crippled Romanian football. That’s why the club’s level of debt is now at around 3 million Euros – a rather small sum, but still one to demand such a drastic measure.
The name of the third first division club to enter administration is already known: Universitatea Cluj. The club’s accounts are blocked since last summer, the 1,04 million Euros from TV rights that are expected in February will go directly to the state budget and there’s no owner ready to push money, as Florian Walter has moved to Petrolul (alongside a dozen of players) and is hoping to sell Universitatea – a move that will also solve a moral issue (controlling two clubs in the same league) that doesn’t seem to bother anyone else around here.
More could/should follow. Dinamo is still affected a continuous turmoil at ownership level, and among the so called top clubs is in the worst shape, while in relegation zone CSMS Iasi and CS Severin could do the same as Gloria Bistrita and Universitatea Cluj. The club from Severin is the most optimistic of all to escape financial trouble, but with the saviors coming from Greece, maybe we should take all the enthusiastic media stories with a pinch of salt…