In the 96th season, Steaua Bucharest prevailed once again, with a 26 game unbeaten run helping them massively. However, by the end of the season it was more overshadowed by proceedings off the pitch. Dinamo Bucharest filed for insolvency, after the owner received a bill in lieu from a former owner of £2m, which tipped them over the edge. They may still be able to compete next season however…
Vaslui, finished 5th, but also failed to meet criteria for the following season therefore did not receive a licence to play, and have been relegated at the expense of FC Brasov. Here are how things eventually panned out:
Champions – Steaua Bucharest (CL 2nd Qual Round), 2nd – Astra (EL 3rd Round Quals)
3rd – Petrolul (EL 2nd Round Quals), 4th – D Bucharest (Insolvency Filed), 5th – Vaslui (Licence Failed)
6th – CFR Cluj (EL 2nd Round Quals)
Relegated – Vaslui, Sageata Navodari, Poli Timisoara, Corona Brasov
Promoted – Rapid Bucharest*, CSU Craiova*, CMS Iasi, Targu Mures
*Initially denied licence but overturned Romanian FA decision at CAS Tribunal
Three of the four sides promoted last season went straight down again, with Botosani the only to survive, but saying that there were just 5 points between 17th place Timisoara and 8th place Botosani. Very close!
I fear with attention being paid attention to the main European clubs, small leagues like this and the Ukrainian will slowly die out, with not enough money about to be able to survive, especially with an acute financial situation in these countries anyway. A massive shame as these leagues are very entertaining and often the epicentre of some truly great players like Gheorghe Hagi, and younger talent like Gabriel Torje – better known as the Romanian Messi…although since his move to Udinese his progress has stagnated, with several loan moves to Spain and Turkey.
Anyway, on a more positive note, Rapid Bucharest have comeback at the first attempt since their financial issues, and CSU Craiova (formerly Universatatea Craiova, a very successful club) have reformed and are back in the top flight. This season there are 6 relegation spots, as the league is being reduced to 16, with usually 4 going down. This is due to the fact very few teams can gain a licence to come up, and the last couple of seasons have seen teams get relegated over this issue.
Should be another good season – Steaua have to be solid favourite for a 3rd consecutive title but Petrolul and the ever-improving Astra will have something to say about that…