Steaua spare struggling Sportul

CF Sportul Studentesc have been spared relegation after a €128,000 debt to FC Steaua Bucuresti was cleared.

Transfer debt
Sportul had forfeited their previous league match against FCM Bacau after the Romanian Professional League (LPF) refused to allow them to play any further Divizia A games until the debt to Steaua - the fee for defender Florin Maxim's transfer last summer - was cleared. Bacau were awarded a 3-0 victory.

Relegation threat
However, Steaua's main investor Gigi Becali has agreed to pay the debt to his club's honorary president Viorel Paunescu on behalf of Sportul if they fail to find the monies by tomorrow. Had the debt not been settled by the 23 May deadline, Sportul would have been automatically relegated to the third division, which is the LPF's statutory punishment for any team that misses two league matches.

Player move
But Steaua stand to profit from the deal as, should Sportul president Vasile Siman not pay the debt - which is highly likely - the Bucharest club will take possession of Sportul's promising 21-year-old striker Ionut Mazilu. Steaua have been given the player's registration as security in the event that Siman does not find the money.

'Official letter'
LPF chairman Dumitru Dragomir seemed as confused as everyone else as he officially lifted the ban on Sportul. "I'm not interested how Steaua and Sportul worked it out," he said. "The fact is that Steaua sent a letter to the LPF announcing that the payment problem between the two sides had been resolved on 21 May. All I know is that Sportul agreed to release the transfer documents of the player Ionut Mazilu, in exchange for the €128,000."

Slim chance
The resolution of the crisis leaves Sportul, who are in the relegation places in 15th position, with a slender chance of avoiding the drop. The teams in 13th and 14th places - both of which lead to a relegation/promotion play-off against sides from the second division - are four points ahead with two matches remaining.