The threat of postponement to the start of the 2008-2009 season has been hanging over Argentine football since the official fixture list for the Primera División was released last week. On Wednesday AFA President Julio Grondona declared that the decision has been taken to provisionally ‘postpone all the championships until Futbolístas Argentinos Agremadios [the players’ union] give the OK to lift the sanctions against the clubs.’
After talks with government ministers, with the FAA themselves and with the clubs, Grondona is confident of reaching a compromise or seeing the financial difficulties sorted out with a little government help. He’ll also be well aware that if he manages to help the clubs out of this mess he’ll have earned a few favours which could be called in at a later date in the event – let’s just hypothesise here shall we? – of an important election at the AFA (not that the FIFA Vice-President really has to worry about such things anyway).
The TV companies, most notably TyC Sports, might yet come to the rescue with vital cash, but government assistance in some form is looking likely. At any rate, a date has been set by which everything has to be agreed if the new season is going to begin on time: Tuesday, 11th August, 72 hours before the scheduled first match of the season on Friday, 14th.
The total debt owed by Argentina’s clubs to their players is around AR$40 million (roughly US$10.4 million). The clubs in danger are from the country’s top three divisions, and there are twenty-one of them. On Wednesday, for the first time, the full list of them was made public. From the Primera: Independiente; River; Racing; San Lorenzo; Newell’s Old Boys, Rosario Central and Huracán. From B Nacional: Unión de Santa Fe; Aldosivi de Mar Del Plata; San Martín de San Juan; Platense; Ferro, Quilmes and Olimpo. And from B Metropolitano: Deportivo Morón; Estudiantes de Caseros; Nueva Chicago; Almagro; Deportivo Español, Temperley and Flandria.