Just when we thought our sporting week couldn’t get any worse, we discover that Sportul Studentesc – the only Romanian football team we have ever given rat’s arse about – face oblivion. Unbeaten and top of the Romanian second division, Sportul were due to play their first game after the winter break today, at home (well, close to it: as their own ground is currently out of circulation they were scheduled to play at Juventus Bucuresti, in Colentina) to Farul Constanta.
Alas it was not to be. Come kick off time, the Sportul players named on the team sheet were in the stands as opposed to on the pitch, on strike in protest at the repeated failure of the club to pay them their wages. Farul were awarded the game 0-3 by default.
Owed, in some cases, as much as two years’ worth of pay, Sportul’s first team squad has had enough and are demanding that they either be paid or released from their contracts (as free agents they would be able to sign for other teams, even outside the transfer window).
Quite what happens now is anybody’s guess, but with the club’s owner Vasile Siman not looking likely to back down, Sportul face playing the rest of the season with the youth team: promotion, until this weekend almost a certainty, now looks unlikely.
Indeed, seeing out the season at all would probably now be viewed as a success. The club looks doomed. Its own stadium – Regie – has no utilities (like the players, unpaid for years – we wrote about the situation back in September, when we last went to see Sportul play) and weeds are growing in the stands. It will take a fair bit of investment to make the ground usable again. We must alas assume that Regie has already seen its last game.
This is a shame for anyone with a sense for the history of Romanian football. Sportul are one of the oldest clubs in the country (founded in 1916 as the football team of Bucharest University) and have given the game a number of fine players over the years. Gheorghe Hagi, who first came to prominence at Sportul, is not the least of them. We should not forget either that Dan Petrescu cut his managerial teeth here.
If Sportul actually had any fans, now would be a good time for them to start a ‘Save Sportul’ fund.