By Marco Keller
With most clubs in Switzerland enjoying a quiet winter break, attention has turned to the financial problems at Servette FC and Grasshopper-Club.
Servette in turmoil
Geneva side Servette, Swiss champions on 17 occasions, are in the most serious trouble and after having to submit their accounts to a court in their home city in the middle of January, they now have until the end of the month to find nearly €6.5m to avoid bankruptcy.
Debts mount up
Their problems began in October 2002 when French broadcasters Canal+ sold their 43.2 per cent stake in the club, and Servette required the sale of defender Philippe Senderos to Arsenal FC to keep going through the season. However, despite the purchase of the club by French players' agent Marc Roger last February, the debts have not been cleared.
Servette lie eighth in the ten-team top division having recovered from a three-point deduction for financial irregularities, but several players have already left this month, including Stéphane Ziani, Eric Hassli, Davide Calla, Leonardo, Kata, Edu, Toni and Furo, though Roger claims to have potential investors lined up.
Grasshoppers cut back
Meanwhile, Zurich outfit Grasshoppers have decided to cut costs by 20 per cent following years of losses, which will no longer be covered by private investors. At the end of 2004 Jean-Paul Brigger stepped down as sporting director after 12 months to return to FIFA and other departures are possible.
Basel sign duo
In transfer news, champions FC Basel 1893, currently seven points clear at the top, have strengthened their defence with the signing of experienced Swiss international Patrick Müller from RCD Mallorca and the promising Reto Zanni from second-placed FC Thun.
Yakin eyes return
Possibly following Müller back to Switzerland is Hakan Yakin, who is looking to leave VfB Stuttgart. After the collapse of a move to CA Boca Juniors, Challenge League side FC Sion have become favourites to land the former Basel attacking midfield player.
Action in Switzerland resumes on the second weekend of February with the Swiss Cup quarter-finals. The league restarts one week later.
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