The Dalmatian team won the Euroleague three times in a row in 1988/1989, 1989/1990 and 1990/1991 under the name “Jugoplastika” and “Pop’84”. KK Split was officialy voted the best European basketball club of the 20th century by the FIBA.
Like many clubs in from the former Yugoslav republics, KK Split started to face financial problems when government funding became less and less each year and clubs were required to privatize and generate their own income.
As a result, the club has balanced on the verge of bankruptcy for a couple of years now. The bank accounts have been blocked, players haven’t received any salaries and bills have been left unpaid.
A few months ago an initiative was started in which the fans of the club were asked for support by buying shares and becoming co-owners of the club. They responded by buying 1.500.000 Croatian Kuna (€ 198.514 or $ 262.578) worth of shares. Another 1.000.000 Croatian Kuna was bought by the town council and tonight that same body decided by a large margin (21 out of 22 votes) to buy another 3.000.000 Croatian Kuna worth of shares.
A portion of that amount is not a cash payment but a transaction in which the city of Split traded in some if it’s claims for shares.
So far, 5.500.000 Croatian Kuna worth of shares have been sold (or traded in for claims) but a minimum of 7.700.000 (€ 1.018.691 or $ 1.347.688) Croatian Kuna is really necessary to save the club. The remaining creditors are now asked to either drop their claims, or trade them in for shares of the club.
It seems like the process is moving in the right direction, although the mayor of the city, Zeljko Kerum, also ventilated some criticism towards local politicians.
“It’s a disgrace when some people, who are very rich, buy one single share worth € 33 ($ 44). Especially when these rich people are also politicians. They spend € 33 on one single share and then call for a press conference and get free media attention that is worth tens of thousands times more than what they paid for the one single share.”
The mayor himself donated € 13.243 ($ 17.527) from his own pocket, while all the other politicians together only donated € 11.906 ($ 15.770). With his shares, the Mayor is now the third biggest shareholder of the club, after the city of Split and Tomislav Mamic who is the owner of the trading company “Tommy”.
Mayor Zeljko Kerum is an entrepreneur and a rather controversial figure that remotely resembles the the activities and scandals surrounding Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian Prime Minister. Kerum has made ethnic hate speeches on national TV, is a populist politician, mixed politics and business, was caught in extramarital affairs, had a public divorce and is not shy at all to drive around split in his Maybach 62S, Ferrari, or one of his many other cars worth a combined € 17 million.