So Long, NK Zadar? Bankruptcy on Horizon for Former Club of Modric, Vrsaljko, Subasic

Daniela Rogulj

February 7, 2020 – All signs are leading to NK Zadar going bankrupt. In an effort to protect whatever financial assets they currently possess, the club’s leaders have established a new club, HNK Zadar.

24 Sata reports that almost two months ago, the NK Zadar leaders came together to form HNK Zadar due to financial problems within the club.

At its session on November 15, the Supervisory Board formed the Association of the Croatian Football Club Zadar, with its headquarters at Hrvoja Ćustića 2, the same address as NK Zadar.

HNK Zadar was registered in the Register of Associations of the Republic of Croatia on December 16. Its president is Damir Knezevic, who was appointed by the City of Zadar in July last year to replace NK Zadar director Svetko Custic.

It is logical to assume, therefore, that the City was also behind the decision to establish HNK Zadar. So, did the Knezevic-led administration do this as a loophole to prepare for bankruptcy?

“HNK Zadar was founded due to the financial problems at NK Zadar s.d.d., above all, to protect the NK Zadar football school because it is the most important. Given the blocks that took place in December and January, we had to protect the football school so it would continue to function,” said Damir Knezevic.

Thus, the management was expecting the clubs’ accounts to be blocked and resorted to founding a new club for this reason.

“The decision to found the Association was made by the people who currently operate the club. I did not know that the account would be blocked, but I saw that it was a possible scenario,” said Knezevic.

Knezevic sees no problem with being the director of NK Zadar and the president of HNK Zadar at the same time.

“The same practice is known in other Croatian clubs that have been in a similar situation. HNK Zadar is not operational, it is idle, and the question is whether it will function. It will depend on what the assembly decides,” says Knezevic, however, HNK Zadar is ‘active’ in the Register of Associations.

A bankruptcy decision is also expected.

“The answer can be given by the club owner, which is the shareholder. They must be thoroughly acquainted with the financial situation of the club. They know the income and where it comes from, and they know the expenses. Bankruptcy? I will not participate in it or enforce it. As a director, I will hold authority under company law,” he explains.

The money the City needed to give the club to function this year went to a loan the club raised last summer with the guarantee of the City, so there was nothing left in the register. Knezevic expected an inflow of money from the transfer of Ivan Santini from Anderlecht to China, but that went to the debt collectors.

Zadar should return to the Second Croatian League this season, but has not been granted a license. They are currently in fourth place in the Third League-South rankings with good prospects of getting a promotion, but without the money, they’ll go nowhere.

The players, allegedly, had no idea.

“I told coach Pincic that players should be told about the financial uncertainty in the club recently. We will tell them soon,” Knezevic concluded.

HRT reported that the players requested an urgent meeting with Knezevic, who eventually addressed them in the locker room. Among other things, the players were told that they would not be able to be paid and were told to contact Mayor Branko Dukic.

The team captain Jure Jerbic also commented:

“The truth is, we had a meeting with the club director because we want to know what we are up to and what the plan is for the future. Director Knezevic said that the club’s account was blocked and that the financial situation was tough and that made our salaries questionable. He also said that we should wait for the general meeting in the middle of March, but that doesn’t make sense. That is too long, and we must know about our destiny in a few dyas. Next week we are going to talk to Mayor Dukic so we will see what and how to proceed because we received no response from Knezevic.”

The club, which grew World Cup stars like Luka Modric, Danijel Subasic, Sime Vrsaljko, and Dominik Livakovic, has hit rock bottom.

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