European Cup Winners owe $30m

Red Star board quits as clubs nears collapse

April 28, 2009

Red Star Belgrade's executive board has stepped down amid a growing financial crisis at the fallen Serbian giants.

The board resigned under pressure from angry fans on Monday after club president Dobrivoje Tanasijevic quit last week when the 1991 European Cup winners revealed they owed around 23 million euros ($30 million) to creditors.

Many players have not been paid for months, while the club also had its water supply and telephone lines cut for several days in March due to unpaid bills.

The club was also forced to close its canteen and travel to first division rivals Javor Ivanjica on the day of the match last week, because they did not have the funds to cover a night in a local hotel.

"The entire executive board has stepped down and a three-man interim committee will be in charge until June 8, when a new president will be elected," the board said.

"This group worked in extremely difficult circumstances and we now appeal on the players to focus on winning their remaining games this season.

"Red Star owes money to its players, it has owed money before but it has never failed to settle any of its debts, meaning that this squad will also be paid in full in the foreseeable future."

The crisis has been compounded by a very poor season in which champions and city rivals Partizan opened up a huge gap at the top of the 12-team league and retained the title last weekend with five games to spare.

Red Star also made a 17th successive early exit from Europe, when they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup second qualifying round by Cypriots APOEL Nicosia in August.

With fans demanding the resignation of the board for some time, discontent in the dressing room culminated earlier this month when midfielder Mirnes Sisic said he had no money for food or rent.

Former Serbia winger Ognjen Koroman also described the gravity of the situation.

"Red Star owes me a pile of money, I haven't been paid in a long while," he told daily Press and added: "I am not going to sue the club because there is no point."