BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbian first division side Vojvodina Novi Sad will pull out of European competition next season unless local authorities in the northern city improve stadium facilities, the club’s president Ratko Butorovic said.
Vojvodina are third in the league, seven points behind champions and leaders Partizan, and will qualify for at least the Europa League preliminary rounds if they hold their current position or win the cup, where they hold a 1-0 semi-final first-leg advantage over OFK Belgrade.
“We will be able to play only one home game if we finish third in the league and none if we win the cup because our dilapidated stadium falls short of UEFA standards,” Butorovic told the B92 website (www.b92.net).
”The changing rooms, the anti-doping test room, the delegates’ room and other facilities were deemed sub-standard by UEFA.
“We will not move to another city to play our European matches because that would be unfair to our fans and I honestly hope the city authorities will jump to our rescue because the city of Novi Sad owns the stadium, not the club,” he said.
Vojvodina, who last won the league title in 1989, have regularly played in the Europa League as Serbia’s perennial third-best team, behind Belgrade’s big two Partizan and Red Star.
Vojvodina’s Karadjordje stadium holding 12,303 fans has been partly refurbished in recent years when seats were added to all four tiers of the ground, but a wide range of facilities including a ramshackle press box have been left untouched.
Serbia played Wales and Scotland at the venue in their World Cup Group A qualifiers at the request of the Balkan country’s coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who praised the atmosphere at the ground where he grew up as a player before moving to Red Star Belgrade and then Italy’s Serie A.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic, editing by Justin Palmer