For many decades there was some kind of balance of power and status quo between the two, in which Red Star dominated football (Champions league and Intercontinental cup winner in 1991) while Partizan dominated basketball (Euroleague winner in 1991). That balance of power is now gone.
Red Star’s dominance in football has eroded in recent years, while in basketball the situation seems to go in the opposite direction. For the first time since people can remember there is a very serious challenge in Serbia to Partizan’s dominance in basketball. Red Star succeeded in signing Igor Rakocevic this summer. One of the best Serbian players of the last decade. In addition, Elton Brand came from the Turkish Trabzonspor where he led the Turkish leage in rebounding and was 4th in scoring. There were other signings as well, and soon enough the numerous fans got involved and a media hype started.
Partizan reacted irritated. The GM (Dragan Todoric) openly questioned where Red Star got all the money from to sign all the new players? Red Star was virtually bankrupt the last couple of years, their bank accounts were blocked, and reportedly there was an 18 million Euro debt.
The suggestion was made that Red Star had gotten political support from the new government to solve their financial problems from the past and that “politics” apparently wanted Red Star to be the new Champion of Serbia. This is a sensitive issue since the President of Red Star, Nebojsa Covic, has a past as a very important politician (former mayor of Belgrade, Chairman of Social Democratic Party and even acting Prime Minister for a short period).
Red Star countered via a press conference, then Partizan posted statements on its own website and the heat was one. Every single day the two clubs are now throwing mud at each other and fighting out a cold war. In the meantime, out of nowhere, comes Radnicki Kragujevac. An underdog in Serbian Basketball, but a dangerous one since the team says that it has managed to put together the strongest roster ever…..
It promises to be a very hot season in Serbia and rumors are already flying around that the first game between Partizan and Red Star (November 10th) should be played in the Arena that hosts 22.000 spectators rather than the smaller “Pionir Arena”.