All signs indicate that it’s the end of an era, but it just doesn’t seem real. Yesterday, a patriarchal figure over one of Europe’s most prestigious and historically significant organizations officially stepped down from his high post as observers speculated about what millions of followers could expect next.
No, BallinEurope’s not talking about this guy, but rather that bombastic owner of Žalgiris Kaunas, Vladimir Romanov. Media (outside of Lithuania, that is) will surely be sad to see Romanov, a man who has given us so many
ludricrous bizarre outright insane memorable moments in his nearly four-year tenure as The Boss.
BiE for one, will certainly be ever nostalgic for the unwarranted proclamations of genius; for the firings mid-championship series or anytime, really; for the medical recommendations; for the paranoid calling out of the blogosphere; for ordering player minutes like to-go items at the drive-thru; and surely much much more.
Just to reinforce that “le roi est mort,” the club issued a formal report late yesterday reaffirming Romanov’s resignation from board and chairman positions of Zalgiris.
Ran the message: “Vladimir Romanov has resigned from the NGO Kaunas Žalgiris sponsor board member and chairman positions. The assembled Žalgiris Kaunas club board wishes to state that it is considering options for further club activities. The decisions taken on the club’s management and organization will be released shortly.
“In order to protect the team, its coaches and players from unnecessary speculation on this topic, the board strongly requests patience. The required information will be provided once a final decision is made.”
Romanov’s recent financial woes (and thus those of the club, particularly players going unpaid) are rooted in those of Ūkio Bankas, of which the bombastic one owns about 65%. In mid-February, the national Bank of Lithuania restricted the activities of Ūkio due to financial insolvency and further required collateral of property valued at 1 billion litas (about €290 million/$380 million). At that time, Romanov stated that the decision surprised him and that he would transfer funds nevertheless to pay for player salaries and other club expenses.
Lithuania-based 15min also reported that Romanov’s then-latest masterplan involved selling his stake to “three veterans of the club for a symbolic price,” an act which never came to fruition.
Meanwhile, for the time being Romanov is feigning business-as-usual attitude as majority owner of his other major sports club, Scotland’s Heart of Midlothian – despite reports just days after the Lithuanian government shut off Ūkio’s tap extreme enough to have Hearts ownership handing over the football club to a six-member Norwegian/Swedish group possibly before the season’s end.
Ah, Vlad. European basketball will certainly be less … interesting without you.