Second-tier club Reus have been expelled and banned for three years by LaLiga, the Spanish soccer league body, for failing to pay players’ salaries for several months.
A disciplinary judge also ordered the club to pay a fine of €250,000 (US$285,000). The ruling came despite last week’s takeover of the Catalan club by American investors Russell Platt and Clifton Onolfo, who purchased 99.7 percent of Reus’ shares.
The judge said the takeover did not void the sanctions because it did not erase the committing of the infractions, a fact Reus did not deny. The club, who were reportedly in €5 million ($5.7 million) of debt, have two weeks to appeal, which immediately allows their players to sign for other teams.
The Segunda División outfit were facing indefinite expulsion from professional soccer, or a ban that could reach five years. The maximum fine was more than €300,000 (US$342,000).
Founded in 1909, Reus had not played their last two league matches. All of their unplayed games — including all future ones this season — will become victories for the opponents. The results from the 21 games already played — half the season — will stand. Reus won five of them.
The Catalan club were 20th in the 22-team second-division standings. The team’s last match was a 1-1 home draw against Numancia, when few first-team players remained in the squad. Reus’ games against Las Palmas and at Albacete had been postponed.
Reus’ former owners failed to make salary payments for three months, prompting players to demand out of their contracts, and salaries paid last month came after many players had already left.
The American investors took over to keep Reus from being liquidised and to try to avoid enforced relegation. Platt and Onolfo also promised to build an 18,000-capacity stadium and an entertainment complex in the city of Reus. They are yet to comment on the sanctions.