Portuguese game in crisis
THE FINANCIAL inequality prevalent in the Portuguese League structure has once again become painfully obvious. Following the torturous demise of professional football at former Superliga side Farense, Estoril has closed its gates and are preparing to declare bankruptcy only six months after dropping out of the country’s top tier.
The last 13 players and manager Dauto Faquira tore up their contracts last Friday faced with little hope of retrieving over 300,000 euros in unpaid wages. The club has debts of 1.5 million euros and efforts to attract a consortium of investors have failed, leading to their electricity and water supplies being cut off.
Another club with a long and proud history has to all intents and purposes ceased to exist – despite a last minute stay of execution that saw a mystery benefactor step in.
The most immediate effect would be the reduction of the Liga de Honra – Portugal’s equivalent to the British Coca-Cola Championship – to 17 teams. All games involving Estoril, already played in the first half of the season, would be annulled, with Aves and Portimonense the greatest beneficiaries. Both clubs then occupy joint second place, alongside Olhanense on 27 points, one behind leaders Beira-Mar. For now, the remaining players have decided to play one more game at Aves. More disaster may follow.
Ovarense, in bottom spot of the Liga de Honra, have been unable to pay their players for several months. Fourteen have already left the club, leaving only 12 on active duty, three of which are goalkeepers! Coach Manuel Correia walked out in disgust prior to last weekend’s tie with Beira-Mar and, if new finance is not forthcoming soon, the league may well lose another team. On Saturday, it emerged that Marco would not travel to Portimão as 11 fit players were not available for selection. Watch this space!