Just hours before the start of the new season in Azerbaijan this weekend, former UEFA Cup contenders MKT Araz announced they had gone bankrupt.
The Imishli-based side only exited the UEFA Cup first qualifying round 1-0 on aggregate to Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski, conceding the only goal just two minutes from the end of the second leg in Poland. However, the team who were formed in 2004 and last season finished fifth in the league and reached the Azerbijan Cup final have run out of funds. Araz's Ukrainian coach Igor Nakonechniy said: "It's a pity that the club is no more. President Ikram Kerimli has told me that we no longer have the financial means to survive. The team was making good progress and it's a pity to stop the work now.”
All Araz players have been granted free transfers by the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) and Jamal Mammadov, Elshan Poladov and Azar Jabbarov have already joined FK Gilan, while Vitali Kovalyov, Kamal Guliyev and Anatolie Doros swiftly signed for FK Standard Baku. Although the campaign began at the weekend with six fixtures, the Yuksek Deste may yet be restored to 14 clubs from the current 13, with the AFFA to decide on a claim from second division team FK ABN Barda this week.
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