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SBD Global/February 27, 2014/Finance

Ukrainian Club Metallist Kharkov Faces Bankruptcy As President Flees Upheaval

One of Ukraine’s top football clubs, Metallist Kharkov, is on the verge of bankruptcy and, reportedly, the squad's owner disappeared along with several other entrepreneurs and state officials following the recent change of political regime in the country. Earlier this week, coach Miron Markevich, who was at the helm for nearly 10 years, resigned. The squad's first match after the winter break, scheduled for March 1, has been postponed. Meanwhile, the squad tried to downplay the situation. In a statement, the club said, "Despite the difficult political and economic situation in the country, no one is going to cut the squad's funding and leave it to the mercy of fate. Metallist operates in a normal way." However, reports suggest that the situation at Metallist, based in Kharkov, Ukraine's eastern part that supported ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, could be quite dire.

ON THE LAM: The club's President & Owner, Sergei Kurchenko, who had some ties to the ousted president, left the country alongside former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, and their whereabouts are unknown, the Ukrainian wire service UNIAN reported. According to other reports, salaries to the players, many of whom represent their countries' national squads, have been delayed. Metallist won the Ukrainian league's bronze for six consecutive seasons and was runner-up in the '12-13 season, qualifying for the Champions League. However, the club was suspended from the European tournaments for a year because of an investigation into an allegedly fixed '08 Ukrainian league game. At the moment, the club's future is up in the air, and only the arrival of a new sponsor could help Metallist to avoid bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Kharkov's authorities promised support for the team, which has existed since '25. Kharkov Mayor Gennady Kernes told wire service Ukrainski Noviny, "I don't want to see Metallist cease to exist. If there is a need for guarantees and pledges, I'll take part in that process."
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.
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