The Swiss Football Association has not granted licences for next season to nine clubs from the Swiss League because of their financial difficulties.
The Swiss FA's decision has particularly affected the French-and Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland with Lausanne-Sports, Neuchâtel Xamax FC, Servette FC, FC Sion and FC Lugano all on the list of threatened teams. Fighting an ongoing battle against bankruptcy, FC Luzern also, unsurprisingly, appear on the list along with FC Winterthur and the Liechtenstein team FC Vaduz, who play in Switzerland's national B league.
‘No longer attract top players’
"Wage bills aren't such a problem in Switzerland," the national league director Edmond Isoz said. "In fact, the league's difficulties go all the way back to the Bosman case in 1995 [which allowed the free movement of players whose contracts had expired]. As a small country we can no longer attract the top players who in turn attract big business and, since Bosman, we haven't been able to hold on to talented homegrown players."
Option to appeal
The nine clubs can appeal against the decision taken by the league's licence commission within five days but to succeed they must show themselves to be financially solvent. One requirement is that the clubs must have met all their salary obligations up until 30 April, a requirement that is expected to challenge many of the teams involved.
Servette in debt
Perhaps the most surprising name on the list is that of Servette FC, who are currently on course for a place in next season's UEFA Cup competition having reached the fourth round of the tournament this season. With their funds already stretched by investment in a new stadium, the club have been hard hit by the withdrawal of major sponsors Canal Plus. "Servette are certainly not the ones who worry me the most, though," Isoz said. "The opening of their new stadium in March 2003 is bound to attract new investors."
Uncertain future for Lugano
Lugano are another team whose sporting results are looking much healthier than their financial figures. Second in the Nationalliga A and already assured of a European place next season, their financial woes have been partly brought about by the untimely death of club president Helios Jermini in March.
Relegation to amateur leagues?
Winterthur and Luzern appear to have the toughest financial struggle ahead of them, with both clubs facing a genuine battle against bankruptcy. The remaining teams could find themselves relegated to the amateur leagues if they fail to make convincing appeals.
Thun and Delémont set to benefit
If any teams are relegated, their places are expected to be taken by the highest-ranked sides that have received licences. As things stand that could mean a top division place by default for current B leaguers FC Thun and SR Delémont.
UEFA’s new system
UEFA has recently announced a new licensing system which will come into force for the 2004/2005 season which will require all clubs that qualify for UEFA competitions to be financially solvent.
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