Regardless of your location or stature, it's no picnic digging your way out of a hole whetherthe pressure is due to results, finances or both. Mark Smith on a famous club facing tough times.
Slavia Prague have finally parted company with coach Karel Jarolim after a 3-0 defeat against Slovacko left Slavia just one point ahead of bottom placed Brno. Jarolim, obviously a man of great pride, had offered his resignation the day after the defeat but the board had rejected it and were looking to discuss his future during the upcoming international break. However, Jarolim had persuaded the board to accept his resignation on the grounds of “intense media pressure” – which had made his position untenable. Slavia will now look to assistant coach Michal Petrous to steady the ship with the likelihood that a permanent appointment will made during the winter break.
It’s a sad ending for Karel Jarolim as he had lead Slavia Prague to back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009 and to the promised land of the Champions’ League group stages in 2007/2008, he was also a star player for Slavia back in the 70’s and 80’s and had represented his country on 13 occasions. Despite a good start from Slavia this season, two wins and two draws, their form soon dropped and are now staring at bottom place. During this terrible run, they suffered a last minute 2-1 home defeat to bitter rivals Sparta Prague, a defeat which really left Slavia and their fans reeling.
It is obvious to see that club has serious financial issues, this is the first season for a very long time with no European football at all for Slavia – even the Europa League would have provided a nice sum of money for the Czechs. Although the financial meltdown stems from the club overspending on players and wages in a bid to qualify for the Champions League group stages last season, infact they were oh so very close in doing so. It took a last minute goal from Sheriff Tiraspol to cruelly knock out Slavia at the final hurdle of the qualifiers in 2009. The club is now saddled with a hefty wage bill and hardly any revenue to spare for improving things on the pitch.
Recently appointed director Miroslav Platil gave a very good interview recently when quizzed on the troubles at Slavia. The article was titled “We are looking for a New Face, says director of the sinking Slavia”. Now I don’t think that Miroslav is personally looking for ground breaking cosmetic surgery, more like making a point of how big a job he has to rebuild this famous club.
Platil was asked how serious the crisis is at Slavia and responded by saying “certainly not serious, we have to adopt a series of measures to stabilize it” Platil also added “Journalists and fans have a tendency to say, why not buy this or that forward. The club currently has to rely mainly on resources that it produces “
Basically, we have no money for players and have spent it all on a punt trying to get the Champions League.
It’s a tough job for Platil, he isn’t responsible for the mess he has found but it is his job to help get Slavia back on track and competing for titles. To be fair to Slavia they do invest a huge amount of money into their youth facilities and producing young talent, which is admirable, but they need players for the now, a goalscorer who is going to weigh in with twenty goals a season to dig them out of this hole.
When it was put to Platil that the Slavia fans are running out of patience he commented "Everyone thinks that we buy ten players, and when it does not work with them, acquire another ten, but it is not so. Fans should know that Slavia annually invests 20 million (CZK) to youth. How many clubs in the Czech Republic can say that? "
Another problem for the Slavia fans is that no one knows who the owners are. In 2006 Czech company Key Investments took a 61% stake in the club, but don’t own a single share themselves, they are managing the stake for an unknown owner. This lack of transparency might go unnoticed if the club are successful on the pitch, who cares who owns club if your winning trophies? However, whilst the club is suffering financially the ownership issue provides more ammunition for angry fans.
One thing is for certain, whoever takes over the Slavia job on a permanent basis will have to come cheap.
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