MOSCOW, November 18 (R-Sport) – Former Russian football champion team Alania Vladikavkaz appeared on the brink of financial collapse on Monday after coach Vladimir Gazzaev admitted that the organization lacked even the funds to travel to its next match.
Alania won the 1995 Russian title and made regular appearances in the Champions League and UEFA Cup throughout the 1990s, but have endured crises on and off the pitch in recent years. After relegation from the Russian Premier League last season, the team has been battling to return to the top flight.
Alania’s players have gone unpaid for several months, and their next match puts particular strain on the team’s budget because it involves a journey across seven time zones to Russia’s Far East for a meeting with Luch-Energia Vladivostok.
“At the moment, we don’t have the funds to fly to Vladivostok and take part in the match with Luch-Energia. Moreover, several players are not willing to fly,” Gazzaev said on the team’s website late Sunday and paid tribute to the squad’s dedication in playing while unpaid.
“What they’ve already done deserves respect. On my part, I’m not even trying to demand that the players fly to the away game with Luch-Energia.”
Gazzaev’s father Valery, who serves as team president and coached Alania to its 1995 title, said last month that the organization was living off bank loans because its main sponsor RusHydro pulled its funding after relegation from the Premier League last season.
Some players have already left amid the wage crisis, including ex-Watford and Swansea City striker Tamas Priskin.
Alania’s away league game against Luch-Energia will be its last before a 3 1/2-month break for the Russian winter, also a significant obstacle for a team struggling financially.
Alania barely survived a previous financial collapse in 2006, when the team was briefly expelled from professional football before reforming in the third tier.
Alania is based in the Caucasus region of North Ossetia and was the only non-Moscow team to win a Russian, as opposed to Soviet, title until Zenit St. Petersburg in 2007.