Spanish league bans 2nd-division club Reus for 3 years
MADRID (AP) — The Spanish league banned second-division club Reus for three years Monday for not paying players’ salaries for several months.
A disciplinary judge also ordered the club to pay a fine of 250,000 euros ($285,000).
The ruling came despite last week’s takeover of the club by American investors Russell Platt and Clifton Onolfo, who purchased 99.7 percent of Reus’ shares.
The judge said the takeover did not void the sanctions because it didn’t erase the fact the infractions were committed.
The judge said Reus did not deny the infractions.
The club was facing indefinite expulsion from professional soccer, or a ban that could reach five years. The maximum fine was more than 300,000 euros ($342,000).
Reus has two weeks to appeal the judge’s decision, which immediately allows its players to sign for other teams.
Only a handful of players were still linked to the club from near Barcelona.
Founded in 1909, Reus had not played its last two league matches. All of its unplayed games — including all future ones this season — will become victories for the opponents. The results from the 21 games already played — half the season — will stand. Reus won five of them.
The Catalan club was 20th in the 22-team second-division standings. The team’s last match was a 1-1 home draw against Numancia, when few first-team players remained in the squad. Reus’ games against Las Palmas and at Albacete had been postponed.
Among the players affected by Reus’ situation was United States defender Shaq Moore, who was playing on a loan from Levante. He returned to Levante this month.
Reus’ former owners failed to make salary payments for three months, prompting players to demand out of their contracts.
The club began making some of the payments last month, but many players had already left.
The American investors took over to keep Reus from being dissolved and to try to avoid the club from being dropped from the league. They promised to build an 18,000-capacity stadium and an entertainment complex in the city of Reus.
It wasn’t immediately known if the sanctions would change the new owners’ plans or affect the takeover. They could not be immediately reached for comment.
Platt was a founder of Morgan Stanley Real Estate, while Onolfo was a former owner of the Connecticut Wolves, a team which used to play in the United Soccer League. Onolfo is related to former Galaxy coach Curt Onolfo.
Spanish media said the club’s debt reached 5 million euros ($5.7 million).
This story has been corrected to show Reus was 20th instead of 21st in league standings.