Finnish outfit FC Jokerit announced today that they are giving up their place in the Veikkausliiga and ceasing business as a football club.
No options left
Jokerit have been searching unsuccessfully for new ownership and financing for several months and the board have now decided that they have no further option but to wind the club up. HJK Helsinki are applying to take over Jokerit's first-team squad and field the team in the Finnish first division, while AC Allianssi are planning to take charge of the club's youth teams.
Meanwhile, FC KooTeePee, relegated last autumn in the play-offs, are hoping to land the vacant place Jokerit's demise leaves in the Veikkausliiga, although the league may be played with 13 teams next season rather than 14. The official decisions concerning these matters will be made later today when the board of the Finnish league meets.
Jokerit were formed in 1999 when Harry Harkimo, the chairman of one of Finland's biggest ice hockey clubs also called Jokerit, bought the football club PK-35, who had won promotion to Veikkausliiga a year earlier and finished third in their first season in top flight.
The newly renamed Jokerit won the Finnish Cup in their very first season in 1999 and finished fourth in the league. In 2000 they were championship runners-up behind FC Haka but were then relegated the following season via the play-offs.
In 2002 they regained their top-flight place and finished tenth in the 2003 Veikkausliiga. In their short history, Jokerit also managed several forays into Europe - beating JK Trans Narva and Floriana FC in the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup before losing to West Ham United FC of England in the third round. In 2000/01 and 2001/02 they lost to MTK Hungária FC and FC Arsenal Kyiv respectively in the UEFA Cup qualifying round.
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