Absolutely piss-poor situation. A recap:
- Universitatea Craiova
, one of the most important clubs (arguably top three) in terms of record and support, does not exist anymore. It might just be that in this case, the crook that owns the club was right in his war against the FA and the FA has abusively relegated the club and then allowed them no license to any level of official football. The club has a record of four league titles and six cups, has provided the NT with some of its best players, and was the club that started the great run of Romanian clubs in European competitions in the '80s (followed by Dinamo and Steaua). The Romanian equivalent of, say, Napoli (blue, working class and club of the people, high attendances and great atmosphere, attacking football philosophy, not as successful as the establishment's clubs, hence more loved by the neutrals).
- FC Arges
, another legendary club with two league titles under its belt and with the record of having been the home of what many say was the best Romanian footballer ever, Dobrin, is now going towards dissolution too. The crook owner is currently in jail for corruption and the club has relegated. Funnily, the owner had on the desktop of his laptop an Excel file titled "Bribes" where he kept records of everything he had paid referees.
- Politehnica Timisoara
is a third major club that is bust. Actually, it doesn't exist anymore at all (the second division team with its name is not a real successor). Two times Cup winner and arguably the best supported club in the country. The crook owner let the club go bust when it became obvious that the local authorities would not finance the debts of the club, especially as the debts were to the owner himself.
- A fourth giant going in the same direction is Universitatea Cluj
, one time cup winners. Similar scenario to the one above: crook took over, could not cash in from the local authorities, so moved to another club at the end of the same season. Before that he transferred 15 of the club's best players for free to the club he was going to move to, which is why he's now been arrested for fraud. The club is still in the first division but is struggling to make basic payments like rent and heating. Would not be surprised to see them not getting licensed for the next season.
Other big clubs from major cities that have faded off: Farul Constanta
, now in 2nd division (Gheorghe Hagi's first pro club), UTA Arad
, 2nd division (six time champions, which is all time fourth best, plus two Cups). Not a Romanian football classic, but Unirea Urzicen
i's complete disappearance was a sad moment.
and Rapid Bucharest
are also in danger these days, both I think in UEFA's recent list of sanctions for financial reasons. Dinamo's unable to pay a few hundred thousand euros, which is very telling. Hopefully the club is dissolved and can take everything back from zero, in order to lose the crooks that have been keeping it hostage for more than a decade now. Rapid Bucharest is for sale for the price of only one euro, hehe, but buying it would mean taking almost 20 million euros worth of debt, much of it owned (you guessed it) to the current crook owner. BTW Romanians have pretty much stopped calling club owners as "owners", as what they are de facto
Out of the few clubs that are doing somewhat well, Pandurii Targu-Jiu
(#4 in the league) was shown to be in fact financed by a lot of public funds (most of any Romanian club), funds that should not be going there; Astra
(#2) is a MK Dons-type club; CFR Cluj
(#5) is already selling the players that have made an impression in this autumn's Champions League, and Petrolul Ploiesti
(#6) have as shareholder the guy who had just recently ruined Universitatea Cluj, and you never know when he's going to screw his new club too. Only Steaua and Vaslui look more or less OK, despite the erratic owners. In other news, Otelul Galati
(former surprise champions) have reverted back to mid-table mediocrity and my own club is last in the table.
There are few talents coming up, the two identified causes (so far) are 1) the clubs, which are filling only the absolute minimum required of youth teams in order to have minimal expenses and 2) the national youth set-up that doesn't nurture excellence because, as it was exposed a year or two ago, coaches ask for bribes from the parents in order to select their kids into the squads.
The future's bright.
Very few good news:
- there are two clubs in the European spring, best performance since 2005-06 I think
- Gheorghe Hagi's academy club, Viitorul Constanta
, has reached the first division and looks like staying there
- three new modern stadiums have been built in recent years and they showed that, combined with a fairly decent sporting project, supporters will come back in numbers, injecting life into the sport
- the Euro Championships expanded to 24 from 2016 when we might finally get an appearance (I'm still not optimist).