Swiss club Servette FC have been declared bankrupt at a public hearing today in Geneva.
Commercial court judge Patrick Chenaux had told the 17-time Swiss champions to prove they had the necessary financial backing to reach a deal with creditors over their €6.42m debt. The Friday morning deadline passed without any guarantees being given.
Debts mount up
Servette's 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 despite a three-point deduction for financial irregularities. Several players have already left the club in the last month, including high-profile names like Christian Karembeu, Stéphane Ziani and Mohamed Kader.
Servette, who last won the Swiss title in 1999, are the country's third top-division side to collapse in the last three years. FC Lugano and Lausanne-Sports went out of business in 2002 after being relegated on financial grounds. Should Servette follow suit, the first division may have only one club, Neuchâtel Xamax FC, playing outside the German-speaking area of Switzerland.
UEFA EURO 2008™
Servette have played in recent years at the newly-constructed Stade de Genève - one of the venues for the UEFA EURO 2008™ final round in Austria and Switzerland in three years' time.
The club's situation will have no bearing on EURO 2008™ matches at the stadium. "Servette do not own the stadium," said UEFA's communications and public affairs director William Gaillard today. "We have an agreement [for 2008] with the owners, so nothing changes in this respect."