Marin Brbic:To This Day I Have No Idea Why Hajduk Board Replaced Me

Total Croatia News

TCN’s exclusive interview with the former president of Hajduk.

When Marin Brbić was voted out of his post as president of Hajduk back in April, news spread throughout the Croatian media within seconds and everyone was asking the same question, why? And on May 2, 2016, Total Croatia News sat down with Mr. Brbić to get the answer to that question from the man himself.

Sure, the actual game results could be better (only according to those that do not realise just how much Hajduk relies on its young players since there was no money to shop), but if we look at all other things that were achieved during Brbić’s reign such as much needed and long awaited financial stability, Our Hajduk, another season in the Europa League qualifications round, one has to wonder whether some other forces were in play when this decision was made.

First of all, thank you for agreeing to this “impromptu” interview, and now, one month after you were relieved of your duties, can you tell us why were you voted out of your position as the president of HNK Hajduk?

To tell you the truth, I didn’t know then, and I still have no idea. The real reason, apart from the big words that were thrown around such as vision, mission, and strategy, was never given to me. Few members of the Supervisory board had the intention of getting rid of me right from the start, they decided to go in a different direction and found the deciding fifth vote.  I was told that the reason was the fact that I wanted to start investing in our first team and they wanted to invest in the infrastructure even though this subject never came up. Of course, one does not exclude the other but I think the time has finally come for Hajduk, after it tried to resolve all its debts for 4 years, to invest in its team. It has the strength and means to do it. From what I am hearing now, Supervisory board now intends to invest in the team  so it’s clear as day that the reason they gave me is not true.

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But isn’t it logical to start investing? Hajduk has relied heavily on its own youth for a long time, the financial situation is somewhat brighter, and now it’s time to start thinking about game results.

Hajduk is a football club, first and foremost ,and football games are the reason we exist. Uncompetitive Hajduk is not a good club.But as I told you, now they’re planning on investing in the team so time will tell. But if they do invest, and I hope they will, it once again proves that the reason they gave me for my dismissal simply doesn’t hold water.

Your dismissal has caused some financial trouble because some of the previously agreed cooperation agreements are now on hold.

We’re talking about a factoring agreement and some refinancing that we have previously arranged and were about to sign a contract. It’s now on hold but this is understandable considering that when a club or company decides to change its top level officials, partners have to get some proof of stability, especially since the new management is yet to be confirmed. Temporary management is operating on a daily basis to deal with daily problems, it cannot work strategically or on any long-term plans. I believe this refinancing will go through in the end, but it will take time, and any prolongation is bad because this is the time when next season is supposed to be prepared and all technical processes have to function well.

Considering the current situation, is there any added pressure on coach Burić or are they letting him do his job?

In terms of the sports part of this story, he has total freedom. However  his role now is neither easy nor simple. He now has two roles. He is both the sports director and A team coach which is possible in certain football leagues like the Premiership where the coach is also the team manager and responsible for everything that’s going on, however, in England, team managers are surrounded with a whole team of experts. This is, of course, not the case in Hajduk and Damir (Burić, coach) is in a very difficult situation. He’s a great professional and I think he will prevail, but it’s not easy on him especially since all the responsibility now rests on his shoulders. 

But results cannot be expected without the aforementioned investments.

From what I was told, he was given a budget to work with in order to bring in new players. I don’t know whether the budget will be enough to bring in top level players but he will have to work with what he was given. It’s hard to expect that Hajduk will be able to surpass Dinamo in just one year not only because of the quality of players but also because of all other things that have nothing to do with the sport itself. We have pinpointed, repeatedly, the relations within Croatian football so the conditions off the field play an even greater role than on the field. This extends to our entire football federation, we all know what it’s like, there’s no need to repeat it… Lokomotiva, Dinamo, Croatian Football Federation, referees….everything is set up to serve the needs of just one club.

Considering how many people within the club resigned after the decision of your dismissal was announced, is that one more confirmation that many people were supportive of the way you were running the club?

Honestly, I believe all those people regretted their decision. Only after they scratched beneath the surface and spent some time in the club they actually realised the severity and seriousness of all the processes within the club. Hajduk is not a video game where you can test your football manager skills and arrange things using a joystick. Those people were looking at things from Zagreb and were not aware of the repercussions of their actions. But, time will tell and I wish Hajduk all the best. I hope it will qualify for the Europa league and that it will keep up with Dinamo and if that happens I will be the happiest man in the world. 


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