My attention will be turning to Liga de Fútbol Profesional Boliviano for the next few weeks, in particular La Palmera of Trinidad and the 7 (yes seven) Santa Cruz clubs, including Club Blooming and Club Destroyers, who share the Ramón Tahuichi Aguilera Stadium.
I will do a little analysis of Romanian 2nd league. Why? It might have a higher average number of spectators than the 1st league. And why that?
This season of Romanian 2nd league marks the return of former a few (some were already there) traditional, fan favourite teams.
ACS Petrolul52 Ploiesti
FC Petrolul Ploiesti finished the 2015/2016 season in the last place and due to financial issues they haven't even signed up for 2nd league and went bankrupt. Being a team with a large number of supporters, the fans gathered around an association and a few former legend players and started the ACS Petrolul 52 Ploiesti.
The newly created team easily won the local 4th league (11 points ahead of 2nd place) and had to play a qualifier with the winner of another county's league (Dentas Tartasesti). 1st match was played away, Petrolul virtually securing promotion in 1 match as they won 3-0. The 2nd leg was legendary: 14.000 supporters showed up at the stadium and displayed an extraordinary banner that covered the stands. Match ended 2-2, Petrolul going up to the 3rd league. Before that season, they also secured a sponsorship with Veolia which most likely had a significant impact on the club's budget.
The 2017/2018 season was also great, having dominated the 3rd league with 19 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses and they promoted to 2nd league.
They managed to win back their badge and trophies in 2017 for the next 4 seasons, after having won the licitation organized by Ploiesti town hall, who owns them.
The current season, after 3 matches Petrolul are in the 4th place, winning twice and one draw. Not sure about the attendance, a local newspaper says around 3500 people at the home match against Pandurii and around 5000 against Snagov in the 1st match day.
Local team FC Politehnica Timisoara (founded in 1921) went bankrupt in 2012 and the mayor of the city decided to move AC Recas to Timisoara. Poli supporters considered it merely a political move and so they decided to create a team of their own which they registered into the 5th division. They partnered up with the local Politehnica University, which has been the spiritual parent of the team across history.
They finished their first season on the 2nd place, but as the 1st place didn't register to the 4th league, they still promoted. They promoted after 2 seasons to the 3rd league. The 2015-2016 season was also a success too, securing promotion after 20 wins, 1 draw and 7 losses, finishing 1st, 4 points ahead of 2nd place.
It is now their 3rd season in 2nd league, their amazing supporters impressed on multiple occasions, particularly in their last 2 home matches against rivals UTA Arad (both home matches having an attendance of over 8000 people).
Last season controversy: ASU Poli played away against rivals UTA Arad who play outside the city because they are getting a new stadium. The stadium they play in
has only 2000 seats and home teams are required to give 5% of stadium capacity tickets to away fans, which in this case was 70. This angered Poli supporters who gave those tickets to a kids team, while some of them went into the enemy city and bought 350 tickets straight from the rivals. On matchday, riot police escorted Poli supporters and stopped them a couple of streets away from the stadium, not letting them further. UTA supporters actually left the stadium in solidarity and, in the 58th minute, Poli players left the field, losing 3-0 by decision + receiving a ~17.000 euro fine from the federation.
Current season doesn't look so good yet, drawing once and losing twice. On sunday they play against another traditional team, U Cluj, and we are in for a show in the stands.
I'll profit of the UCL break to write about the current situation from Romanian 2nd league.
We are currently 7 matches in and there were both expected and unexpected things.
Academia Clinceni is in the lead with 6 wins and 1 loss. This is quite surprising as Clinceni have always been considered an upper middle team at best (6th place in 2017-2018, 14th in 2016-2017).
2nd place is held by SportulSnagov which is a team with a... weird history. It used to be called Damila Maciuca, then became Metalul Resita. It managed to stay in the 2nd division twice (after relegating 'footballistically') as other teams didn't signup up because of financial reasons. When it was called Metalul, it fell into insolvency; their owner, Catalin Rufa, got into an argument with the mayor of Resita and so he moved the team to Snagov, where they took over a large part of CS/Vointa Snagov's staff and players. Somehow, they managed to get out of insolvency, brought quite many players and now... here they are: 5 wins and 2 draws.
Traditional team Petrolul Ploiestiare in the 3rd place with 5 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss, which is pretty good so far. They managed to snatch a win from ASU Poli the last match, scoring twice during injury time. It is expected of them to be in for the promotion battle, as they are a -- as we call it -- traditional team, a team that used to be great and had (and has) many supporters.
Middle of the table is occupied by Mioveni, FC Arges, Pandurii, UTA, U Cluj, Chindia Targoviste, Energeticianul, Daco-Getica Bucuresti, Ripensia Timisoara, ASU Poli, Metaloglobus and Farul Constanta. The traditional teams from this part of the table seem to be, more or less, struggling. FC Argeshave 4 wins and 3 draws (5th place), but they are not allowed to promote (because they are financed by the City Hall, I believe). UTA Arad are in the 7th place and seem to be still recovering from last season's financial issues and loss of players. They were supposed to play in their new stadium this year, but local authorities from Arad look like they almost completely abandoned the construction of the stadium (which the UTA supporters mockingly inaugurated).
U Cluj aren't doing as well as most people, probably, expected. Considering they probably surpassed the number of 1000 socios (considered the most in Romania), boasting an average attendance of over 1000 people every match (yes, that's a lot in Romania, nowadays), their 4 wins and 3 losses is a slightly disappointing performance so far as they sit on the 8th place.
ASU Poli Timisoara are also doing quite badly, winning 2, drawing once and losing 4 matches, being 13th place, barely above relegation zone. They are probably the 2nd team by number of socios (after U Cluj). The bad performance might come from the fact that they had 2 managers in the past season and are at their 3rd manager at this beginning of the league.
SSC Farulare doing bad as well, but, they have bigger issues. The current team is a fan-owned team which tried to regain the historical logo of the team, which they failed, as former international player Ciprian Marica bought it and made plans of creating a whole new team. These plans angered Farul supporters who are almost in open war with Marica and local authorities who expelled them from the Farul Stadium. Therefore, they are now playing their home matches at the stadium Hagi built for his academy and team.
The relegation zone consists of Luceafarul Oradea, Aerostar Bacau, ACS Poli Timisoara, Dacia Uniera Braila and FC Balotesti. Luceafarul and ACS Poli are struggling with finances, the latter facing an almost certain bankruptcy as their owner and creator, Timisoara City Hall, were proven that the financing of the team was illegal.