Red Star hires former player Dzajic amid crisis

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) -Former player Dragan Dzajic was on Monday hired as temporary president of storied Serbian club Red Star Belgrade, which has faced bankruptcy after years of struggling on the pitch.

Dzajic succeeds Vladan Lukic, who resigned Tuesday saying he could no longer cope with a string of poor results and the debt of about ?60 million ($76 million).

Red Star's downfall started soon after it won the European Cup in 1991 and coincided with the bloody disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It has fallen behind in the Serbian league to its Belgrade rival Partizan, and has failed to qualify for any major international competition since the mid-2000s.

The Serbian government said it is ready to help both Red Star and Partizan overcome their financial crises.

"We have agreed to refinance Red Star's and Partizan's debts because the state cannot allow these two clubs to go bust," Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said.

The 66-year-old Dzajic is the former Yugoslavia's most capped player, with 85 appearances as a left winger in the 1960s and 70s.

Dzajic is currently standing trial on charges that he and the club's two other ex-officials illegally received about ?10 million ($12.7 million) from the sale of four former Red Star players to foreign clubs - including Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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