Top Slovakian side MŠK Žilina are the first football club to go bankrupt as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The seven-time Slovakian Super Liga winners, for whom former Bafana Bafana player Ricardo Nunes played, declared themselves bankrupt this week.
The club, which in 2010 became the first – and is still the only Slovakian club – to play in the group stages of the Uefa Champions League, said they had approached their professional players and asked them to take a wage cut.
“In the current situation, players with professional contracts could show solidarity, especially to the people who were involved in their training, who provided them with service and conditions,” the club said in a statement posted on its website.
After players refused to negotiate with the club, instead insisting that they would be represented by the players’ union, the club filed for liquidation. A liquidator was appointed, who in turn dismissed 17 players.
“The players with the highest salaries and those whose contracts were finishing this summer or winter were let go. Our budget for this year is based on revenues we were counting on receiving this summer during the transfer period. Today, this amount will in all likelihood be close to zero.
“The young players, who have shown willingness and solidarity, will have their chances as they have been kept.”
Ghanaian defender Benson Anang is one of the players whose contract was not terminated.
The 19-year-old right back moved to Slovakia from the New Life Football Academy in Accra, Ghana, in July 2018.
Nunes spent three seasons with Žilina and played 62 games, in which he scored three goals.
He joined Levski Sofia in Bulgaria on a free transfer in February 2014, but stayed with the club for just a few months before joining Pogon Szczecin of Poland, where he has been ever since.
The Slovakian top flight splits into a championship and a relegation stream after 22 matches and Žilina were second behind Slovan Bratislava when matches were halted ahead of the start of the next round of the championship.
They have said they will play with the young players if the competition resumes.
Meanwhile, in the US, the USA Rugby Board has filed for a chapter 11 bankruptcy after the pandemic caused serious disruptions to their finances.
Chapter 11 allows American entities, including companies, sports clubs and individuals, to apply to the courts for protection against being placed into liquidation by people or companies they owe money to.
This in turn allows them to either reorganise themselves in such a way that they can service their debt or stop operations.
In a statement, the USA Rugby Board said that it had explored all options “to tackle ongoing challenges and sustain the financial impact of suspended income due to Covid-19”.
“Existing financial challenges have been accelerated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on rugby activities.”
The board said they were working closely with the sports’ governing body, World Rugby, which had provided a financial support package that enabled USA Rugby to revitalise from a governance and financial perspective.
“This measure will protect and support the men’s and women’s sevens and 15s programmes as they continue to compete on the world stage,” it said.
In 2018, the USA Rugby Board came close to filing for bankruptcy but managed to stay afloat.
There is speculation that the US will bid for – and most likely win – the right to host the 2031 World Cup as the International Rugby Board is keen to see the sport grow in the US.
It would, therefore, be willing to ensure that the USA Rugby Board stayed afloat, notwithstanding the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
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