The traditional Belgrade basketball team Crvena Zvezda was close to folding just one month ago; with €80,000 in bank and only four players left, the future looked not very bright for the former champions. But things have changed in recent days.
On 1 September, the club announced the signing of world-class coach Svetislav Pesic to bring the team back to its former glory. This was quite a surprise for a club that is rumored to have a multi-million Euro debt and officially holding limited funds. A few days before announcing the new coach, the team presented its new general manager, Milan Opacic. The former director of the YUBAK camps and the coaching community in Serbia will use his connections to rebuild a strong roster.
The latest announcements, after the already-official signing of Marko Marinovic, Marko Keselj and Vladimir Stimac, say that the team wants to recruit two foreign players, one forward and one inside player. According to sources close to the team, this could be Alex Scales and Gregor Fucka. Then there is also Filip Sepa, who is rumored to be joining the team. If you add these names to the already present players, Crvena Zvezda will have a pretty decent roster for being so close to bankruptcy a few weeks ago.
(hint #2: 1)
The question that remains is: Where are all these funds coming from? When you check the official website of the team, you see a lot of big international brands in the “Partner” gallery. But I heavily doubt that these companies are bringing the necessary funds to pay high-quality players like Scales or Fucka. On the other hand, its status as a national symbol may have helped the club to find some private sponsors to stay alive: Nobody can imagine a Serbian championship without legendary duels between Red Star and Partizan.
Now we will see how this story plays out, and if these big names will really land in Belgrade. Pesic is at least a guarantee to form a competitive team out of the players, and if you have Playboy as media partner, your team can’t lose in any way.