One of Romania’s top clubs and most loved of all times, Rapid Bucharest is facing with its most difficult period from their entire history. They cannot play in the new Liga 1 season although they earn their promotion. LPF’s Disciplinary Committee decided today that Rapid is not eligible to play in Romania’s first football tier. 

Photo by: rapidisti.ro

The curious case of Rapid Bucharest
In the recent years, Rapid dealt with many problems. The decline started on May 10, 2013 when the club failed to obtain the license to play in the 2013/2014 Liga1 season although they ranked 8th in the final table. This decision has been taken by the Romanian Professional Football League (LPF – Liga Profesionista de Fotbal). About two months later, The Executive Committee of the Romanian Football Federation (FRF – Federatia Romana de Fotbal) decided that Liga1 must be composed of 18 teams. The 18th team was to be known after a Play-Off between Rapid and the best relegated team (16th place), Concordia Chiajna. The Play-Off consisted on single leg only and the winner was set to play in the 2013/2014 Liga1 season. The match took place on July, the 13th on Dinamo’s Stadium. Rapid won the Play-off with 2-1.

An interesting fact about this match is a little bit strange: it was not on TV! Although two sports televisions were interested to broadcast the match, the Romanian Football Federation set the price to 50.000 EUR. None of the two interested televisions payed so the match couldn’t be seen on TV.

Four days later after the Play-Off, the Court of Arbitration for Sport from Laussane validated the result and Rapid won its participation to Liga 1, season 2013/2014. One of the most bizarre thing ever happened in the Romanian football is yet to come: Rapid played first two matches in Liga 1 in that season but it was relegated to Liga2 soon after. Concordia Chiajna, the team which lost the play-off, made an appeal at CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) on 2 August and won it. Rapid relegated and Chiajna promoted.

After one season in Liga 2, Rapid promoted to Liga 1 for the fifth time in their history. The promotion met some licensing obstacles but in the end, the club got the right to play in Liga 1 for the 2014/2015 season.

The Liga1 season of 2014/2015 was the first one to be with Play-Off and Play-Out. The Romanian Professional Football League decided that there will be 6 teams to relegate out of 18. Unfortunately, Rapid was one of them after they finished 16th in the final rank table. This was Rapid’s second relegation in less than two years. The other 5 relegated teams were:
Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt – no longer exist
Otelul Galati – former champions – no longer exist (Otelul fans fonded their own team, starting in the 4th tier)
Universitatea Cluj – relegated to 3rd tier (big financial problems – possible defunction)
FC Brasov – still in Liga 2 (big financial problems)
Gaz Metan Medias – newly promoted to Liga1

In the 2015/2016 season, Rapid won again their promotion to Liga1. This time, the financial issue got worse than ever. The club was declared bankrupt. The shareholders didn’t seems to care too much about the club’s destiny. Former owner, George Copos sold the team to some doubtful characters who worsen Rapid’s financial situation. Nicolae Cristescu and Adrian Zamfir were not Rapid’s owners for long. Soon after, the club’s ownership has been granted to Moldavian businessman, Valerii Moraru. It seems that Moraru brought nothing than prejudice to Rapid.

Today, Rapid, with all oh their problems, successfully managed to win Liga 2 and promote to Liga1 but it was for nothing. Their access to Romania’s first tier has been denied again by the Romanian Professional Football League citing the following:

“A club in bankrupcy cannot be registered in a competition organized by the LPF.”

Liga 1 is organized by the Romanian Professional Football League while Liga 2 and 3 are under Romanian Footbal Federation (FRF) aegis.

The team which took Rapid’s place is ACS Poli Timisoara. Instead of a Dinamo – Rapid derby, there will be a Dinamo – Timisoara match instead.

Rapid is one of the three giants from Bucharest, aside Steaua and Dinamo. Rapid won 3 titles and finished 2nd for 14 times. They won Liga2 for 6 times and were runners-up for 3 times. Out of 19 Romanian Cup final, Rapid has won 16 times. They have also played 6 Romanian Super Cups and won 4 of them.

Rapid’s best performance in Europe in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup season when they reached the quarter-finals. The exit was produced by Steaua after two draws, 1-1 on home ground and 0-0 away.

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