Serbian government vows to help debt-ridden giants Red Star and Partizan

 

The Serbian government will help refinance debt-ridden soccer giants Red Star and Partizan Belgrade and have appointed managers to temporarily run Red Star, the Balkan country's deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said.

Vucic had called a press conference in the early hours on Wednesday to announce the refinancing after Red Star chairman Vladan Lukic resigned on Tuesday saying he was exhausted from struggling with managing the club's debt of about €60 million  and from a poor run of results.

Lukic's resignation left a massive void at the club ahead of Saturday's crunch derby with champions and league leaders Partizan, and the government concerned about the health of two of the biggest clubs in the country.

"I spoke to the club's legends and leadership on the behalf of Serbia's government and we have agreed to (refinance) Red Star's and Partizan's debts because the state cannot allow these two clubs to go under," Vucic said.

"The situation is so dire it's beyond comment and we will do what we can to help out Red Star and Partizan.

"As far as Red Star are concerned, we will speak with Gazprom, their general sponsor, to elaborate how soon they can pour some money into the club."

Vucic said a working group headed by former player Dragan Dzajic would take charge of Red Star to try to consolidate the club's financial position until a new president and board were elected in either December or January.

Dzajic, who was a club director when they won the 1991 European Cup before he became club president in 1998, however, faces a mammoth task of restoring Red Star's past glory after they were brought to the brink of administration by years of mismanagement that went hand in hand with the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s and the economic depression in Serbia.

Both clubs were heavily funded by the authorities in communist Yugoslavia before the country's bloody break-up but have been left largely to their own devices in the past 20 years, mostly selling talent to richer overseas clubs and drawing as many sponsors as they could.

Dzajic, who quit as president in 2004, said he was looking forward to the challenge of getting the club back on the rails.

"All of this is a bit unexpected for me but Red Star must never give up and the club's first priority is to finish the first half of the season in a dignified manner.

"I thank Mr. Vucic for having faith in me and its obvious that the best use of my abilities is in the sports sector.

"I will do my best, I have been away for eight years but I think I still know how it's done."

Red Star, who have not survived beyond the winter break in European competition since 1992 and saw Partizan clinch the last five league titles in Serbia, have lost two games in a row and fallen eight points behind the champions with three games remaining before the league halts play until February.

Their derby on Saturday is likely to be played under tight security monitored by mounted and riot police amid fears of crowd trouble, which has plagued Serbian soccer in the past 20 years.

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor