The State of Serbian Club Football

May 27, 2019

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Serbian SuperLiga

Founded: 2006

Most Championships: Red Star, 30

Last 5 Winners: Red Star (18/19, 17/18, 15/16, 14/15), Partizan (16/17)

UEFA Ranking: 19th

Highest Ranked Club: Partizan, 81st

Interview with Serbian football expert Milos Dusanovic

Since Serbia became a fully independent country apart from Montenegro, Partizan and Red Star have won every single title. Do you think this is a help or a hindrance for Serbian football in European competition?

It’s definitely a hindrance as they get the most funding from the government and local authorities. As a result, smaller clubs struggle to make ends meat and are often forced to sell players for peanuts in order to survive.

Now vital clubs like OFK Beograd are barely being kept afloat and play in lower leagues. Those smaller clubs have historically produced some of the best players in our history and their struggles will have long-lasting negative affects on football here.

What would be seen as a successful year in Europe for Serbian fans? What’s expected of them?

To me, just qualifying for the Europa League or the Champions League is a major success and anything else is a bonus. Some fans, especially Red Star fans after their recent European campaigns have much higher expectations but to me, that’s not realistic. Our clubs do not have the budgets to be regularly competitive at that level.

Is there a lot of money in Serbian football?

There is a lot of money as we are a football factory with more players playing abroad than almost any other country in the world. Millions are spent on Superliga players every year but due to the poor situation in the country and general corruption, much of that money goes into someone’s pockets and not back into the clubs. Most clubs are in debt but they shouldn’t be if you look at how many transfers they’ve made.

Do most of the country get behind the Serbian sides playing in Europe or is there a lot of tribalism still apparent?

I would say that its mixed. Many Red Star fans hate anything associated with Partizan and vice versa. Many fans of smaller clubs like Vojvodina and Radnicki Nis hate anything that has to do with the Belgrade clubs and view them as government projects who steal titles. I think most casual fans support all Serbian clubs in Europe. It’s probably 50-50.

How is the Europa League viewed in Serbia?

The EL is viewed highly by fans here, our clubs sadly aren’t regulars in Europe in recent times so people appreciate any competition that we can qualify for. It’s also a chance to see some big clubs and players live.

How do you think the Europa League 2 will affect Serbian EL performances and what has been the reaction to the formation of the competition in Serbia?

I doubt that most people are even aware of the EL2 in Serbia but I love the idea and think it could be a great way for the smaller clubs to get some exposure on a bigger stage. The more international competitions the better.

What would you like to see UEFA do to level the playing field more for small European sides?

Well the new CL format makes it a lot harder for smaller sides to qualify so getting rid of that would be my first suggestion. I think UEFA is most interested in making money and the bigger clubs are the ones who will make the most of it for them. I wish for them to help battle corruption in Europe, especially in Eastern European countries where it’s largely still the wild wild west. If they were serious about helping small sides they should investigate the individual countries football associations and figure out why they don’t punish match-fixing.

Interview with Serbian football expert Milos Dusanovic

Find all your Champions League betting odds here

A Europa League infographic

Author: Tom Mortimer

Tom is the editor at Betting Circle and has been creating online content for over 10 years. Tom mainly writes about sport and gambling, but every now and then also delves into fleshier subjects like politics and psychology. When he was 18 he created and over the last few years he's written on a freelance basis for ESPN, WorldSoccer,, among many others.

Twitter @TMortimerFtbl

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