Partizan Belgrade team president Predrag Danilovic has stepped down after announcing that the club are in approximately €5.5million in debt.
Quite the fall from grace for a team that once competed in the 2010 Euroleague Final Four, dominated the Serbian League, leaving all teams trailing in their wake, en route to eight consecutive domestic titles dating back to 2007 until last season, when bitter rivals Red Star won the prize.
The black and whites were also a powerhouse in the Adriatic League, comprising of teams from the former Yugoslavia, winning six championships in eight seasons from 2007 to 2015.
But yesterday’s news that team president Danilovic was stepping down, plunged Partizan further into trouble, as a one-time Euroleague regular as recently as the 2013-14 season will not be able to finance themselves for the upcoming Eurocup season, to which they have pulled out.
Danilovic, a former two-time Euroleague winner in his own right was emotional during his press conference, where he announced that he would step down after eight years as president. The retired Serbian international felt drained and that he could no longer help his beloved team, where he started his 12-year professional career in 1988.
Danilovic’s parting statement:
Partizan was and will be my life. For 15 years I’ve been at the club, together we have done a lot of good things, the agreement, the work of the coaching staff, players. But in the past two years the club is primarily found in financial distress. There are various reasons for this, not only one person to blame,” Danilovic said at the beginning of the press conference.
I can not help Partizan in the same way as I have done for 15 years. I’ve spent their loans and do not regret it. No need to sit here alone. I take responsibility for all of the results to other moves. I can not always be real good results, responsibility taking because I was not able to explain some things and some stuff to put under control. It is human to retire and to come to my place someone who will be able to help Partizan, because I have no way to help.
While it was translated and reads like broken English, the message is a powerful one. Almost like a cry for help. Danilovic could no longer be the captain of his own ship, and is asking for someone to come and help rescue it before it sinks in debt.
Sure, on the court, Partizan are still a strong side, not the force that they were in years gone by, but still a strong entity within the European game, especially domestically and in the Adriatic League. But a powerhouse in the Euroleague, Eurocup-style competitions, they have to rebuild.
They reached the 2010 Euroleague Final Four on a shoestring budget, had to sell three key players in order to get by and play their Euroleague games at the Kombank Arena to earn more money from ticket sales, But now Partizan will have to forget the past and make sure that the name remains a contender for years to come. Not just a major sporting club that vanished in a sea of debt.