Yesterday, the president of Vojvodina FC, Dragoljub Zbiljić, and the member of the Management Board, Ljubomir Apro, held a press conference, where they discussed all the important issues within the Club.
As the public already knows, Jonathan Bolingi, the attacker of Vojvodina FC is still in a difficult health condition, which was the first topic at the conference.
Jonathan Bolingi is still in artificially-induced coma, but today’s lung scan is significantly better, so we expect that they will start the process of waking him up in a day or two, and after that we will have more precise information about this condition. The most difficult period is over, even though his condition is still not stable, but we are receiving positive signals and that is the most important thing right now. I would like to thank the entire staff at the Institute for Lung Diseases in Sremska Kamenica, because they truly did their best to help him and therefore, we thank them in the name of us all. We hope that Bolingi will soon be with us, both in everyday life and at the matches.
Reconstruction of Karađorđe stadium
The reconstruction of Karađorđe stadium will not begin on October 1st as planned, and the head of the Club elaborated a detailed plan.
– We are constantly talking to the Football Association of Serbia, and the City of Novi Sad, and due to administrative reasons, the start of the reconstruction at Karađorđe is delayed, hence we will play this entire half-season at our stadium. The reconstruction was planned to start from October 1st, but by that time the tenders for contractors will be opened. The procedure itself takes a month, month and a half, and after that comes the signing of the contract, most probably in December. We will see what will happen in January, but we can’t talk about any precise dates now. What we know for sure is that we have 150 million dinars from the City of Novi Sad, and 150 from the Football Association of Serbia. We will get hybrid grass football pitch, and all that is required for its maintenance, and I would really like to thank the City of Novi Sad and the Football Association of Serbia. It is important to highlight that the reconstruction outside the pitch, at the stadium, costs 540 million, so we are in deficit of 390 million, and need to discuss with the Government of Serbia and the City how much money they can secure, and we should downsize the project to the level for which we can secure the funding. This is the city’s stadium, so we expect it to be solved. If we could secure all the money, it would be phenomenal, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Karađorđe with a UEFA 4 standard. The plan is to secure everything we need for those 540 million – Club’s Museum, new press room, and everything that UEFA requires for the UEFA 4 standard – Zbiljić said.
The total debt is decimated, nearly 6 million from the summer transfers
He also reflected on a detailed financial report since taking office in June of last year.
– It is also important to say that from the May of last year, we invested a lot and managed to stabilize the Club. We provided a new bus, then pitch with artificial grass, and now we are planning to take care of the pitch number 1 with natural grass.
We also secured additional peace in completing everyday tasks, and we would like to make the space greener and make our complex private. Once again, we would like to appeal to the parents t allow the coaches from our Youth Academy to do their job the best they can. Also, I would like to ask the parents to stop the lobbying, because they are not influencing me at all. They don’t achieve anything by doing so, because we have to leave the experts to do their job. For me it was an important topic to clarify my statements, so there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding. I receive a large number of messages from the fans. When I arrived to the Club on June 1st in 2022, the Club’s account was indebted with 1 billion and around 300 million dinars, with no funds secured for the last year, which was circa 800 million. I stated that during our mandate, we would do everything that we could to attack the title in Serbian championship in the last year of our mandate, i.e., 2025/2026. I don’t understand the public nor the fans, which keep writing that I am announcing the title, while our play is getting worse. We are handling the arrangement of the Club, and it is very important to me that you know that at this moment, on this day, the Club’s account is green, with 280 million dinars. When we project all the costs, by the end of the year we should have around 300 million in 2023, with all the investments in infrastructure, and the reinforcements of the value of capital. The total loss which we expect to have at the end of this year, we estimate to be around 600 million, and we need another year like this one. Transfers and financial stabilization, to be in the black, so that we can raise the budget from 6,5 million euros to eight, or 10-12, in the season 2025/2026, and then we will try to attack the title.
Red Star, Partizan, Čukarički, and TSC are doing their thing, we can’t promise anything, but I can say that the budget of 12 million euros would enable us to create a team worthy of the trophy fight. That’s why it is very important for the public to understand that when we talk about that season 2025/2026, we know precisely in which direction we are headed – Zbiljić pointed out.
Once again, the president of Vojvodina FC stated that the Club earned the amount of nearly 6 million euros from the transfers this summer, and hence that the’’old lady’’ is one of the most stable clubs in the country.
If someone thinks that it is easy to be the head of Vojvodina FC, they are mistaken. There are more things that I forbid than allow, more dismissals than hirings, more selling of the players than bringing them, but there’s nothing I can do, I am doing consolidation. The amount of transfers in this transfer period of Vojvodina FC is 5,68 million euros. What’s even more important is that we kept the percentages from the next player sales. For each of them who left, we remain the owners of the contracts from 10-12, 15, or even 20% like in the case of Čumić, and all those players are young, and have yet to be affirmed. With certainty I can declare that is is hard, but nice to be here. All the players are ours, including those who play in Mladost GAT and Kabel, and to do an average of all the players under the contract in Vojvodina FC, it amounts to 22 years. Seven players, out of which two young representatives play for Mladost GAT, 75% of the Club’s budget is ours, half of the Staff is ours. Why? So that we know whether next year we have the left center half, and whether Drobnjak rose to the occasion. Now I can tell you that we have the left center half. Luka Drobnjak is the player for Vojvodina FC. I watch the games of Mladost, and invite the public to come and watch.
Abadžija is an excellent player, Kovačev as well. Vojvodina has the width. I know it is not good that I talk about this. Nothing is falling through, we have 5,5 million euros in their account, and we are totally stable. The experts are doing their job, and making plans for January and Juny of the next year. I don’t want us to bring strangers to positions for which we have our players of 18, 19, and 20 years. We want to create the team, we will bring three foreigners, or our players that have the quality, but you have to know that we primarily have to think about the resources. We would also like to thank Serbia, Postal Savings Bank became the golden sponsor of the Club, which you had the opportunity to see in the last few days. We don’t owe any taxes to the state. We received the credit of 2,5 million when we arrived, and from that we managed to return 2,2 and those 300 thousand we have in our account, so it is not true that we are indebted. Vojvodina, TSC, and Čukarički are currently the most stable clubs in the country – Zbiljić highlighted.
The results had to be better
He is not hiding that he is displeased with the results at the start of this season, and believes that unity on the stands is the first step towards better results.
– When it comes to results, I am not pleased. I believe we could have done more, that we created a team and that we could have won over APOEL. The general impression was that APOEL was a better team, after which we just continued to go downwards. I would like to thank Ranko Popović who accepted to join us at that difficult moment. We need to bring back the energy to the stadium. The entrance to the game on Saturday is free, we need the support for both Jonathan Bolingi, and for all the people working at the Institute for Lung Diseases who are taking care of him 24/7. And it would be nice if we could give them a big applause at the beginning of the match, and to Jonathan as well, whom I believe will be conscious by then. I also need support. Here in Serbia, I am facing various challenged. The public doesn’t know everything, but they say this team is worse than the team last year, but it is not worse, we just need to have faith in them. Imagine how you would feel if someone would tell you that you don’t know anything every single day, you wouldn’t know everything you do if they did. To us, the team is just getting better. We are an excellent team, but we are currently out of luck, Giorbelidze is hurt, Kajević was also hurt, Bolingi is fighting for his life, and we have many unpredicted problems. Let’s all unite and show that we care. Also, I would like to thank the fans from the north stand, who visited me yesterday, and asked that the entire Management Board comes to the stadium on Saturday, to show that we are all as one. We want to show that we are one family, and that we care – Zbiljić stated.
New activities from October 1st
From marketing perspective, he announced new actions and activities.
– The big action ’’You are my first love’’ starts from October 1st. The promotion of new jerseys, 110th anniversary of the Club, 100th anniversary of Karađorđe stadium. The marketing team is working hard, they are not gone, and from October 1st you will see everything. We are playing in Novi Sad until the end of this year, which still makes me happy. We have plenty of reasons to show that Vojvodina is our love. Maybe someone doesn’t like Zbiljić or Bajatović, and they don’t have to applaud us, but let’s show support to our players – he added.
Then, Ljubomir Apro, the member of the Management Board addressed the attendees, and highlighted that Vojvodina has additionally strengthened their stability, and is going forward.
– We were faced with a lot of tough luck and injuries, and the transfers that were realized were in the interest of the Club. The transfer of Nikola Čumić to Rubin is one of the largest in the history of the Club. And we can’t forget that we also have the percentage of his future transfers. Simply, we didn’t accept the first offer, but the second offer was fair. We expect a lot from Čumić in the next transfer, and Vojvodina will receive important income from his transfer. The others who left received a green light from the Staff. Vojvodina FC also brought some serious reinforcements. Campbell is the fastest player in the championship, he can play at two or three different positions. Vukanović is an affirmed player. Let’s hope that we said goodbye to failures. We are playing more aggressively, we are engaged more, the players are fighting for the emblem of Vojvodina, which is a progress we can’t ignore. The fact that a part of the public has a negative opinion is nothing new, I have been in the Club for a long time, and it also happened before, when the Management board was united, they still received negative and inappropriate comments. Next year, Vojvodina FC will celebrate an important anniversary, it is one of the oldest city clubs in the country, and it has a rich history. To be in this club is a great privilege. I have to thank and highlight that mr Dragoljub Zbiljić invests serious efforts, just like mr Dušan Bajatović, with whom I spent seven years here in the Club. They are doing everything in their power to consolidate Vojvodina. Voša is now the example for everyone in the league. The 100th anniversary of Karađorđe is ahead of us, and I expect that after the reconstruction, all the fans will be proud of the stadium, and it’s all thanks to the President, the director and the Management board – Ljubomir Apro pinpointed.
Kabić asked to leave, Bukinac will sign a new contract
President Zbiljić then reflected on the decision to sell Uroš Kabić to the Red Star, and announced that it’s not the same situation with Stefan Bukinac.
– Since I have been in the Club, two coaches didn’t see Kabić in the starting 11. One who was there during the negotiations, didn’t see him in the top 20 players of Vojvodina. He had a net salary higher than 90 players. The transfer was supposed to be to LASK, but they withdrew their offer, just like Bologna before them. The offer arrived from Red Star too, and a good one, but our fans showed resistance because of the name of the club. Nonetheless, if the coach doesn’t see him, and the player is expensive and he receives a good offer, we unanimously decided to sell him. The player, his father, and his agent expressed the desire to make the transfer happen. We made an excellent transfer, we are just waiting to collect the money, and everything is good. As for Stefan Bukinac, he wants to stay in Vojvodina, which is very important. His agent wants him in Vojvodina, the coach sees him in the starting 11, when he corrects some of the defensive issues. We will offer him a new 4-year contract, we see him as the Club’s future. If you have a player whom the coach doesn’t see and the player whom he sees, then the decision is clear. Full support for Stefan Bukinac, and I expect us to finish this arrangement in the following days – Zbiljić explained.
The head of the Club also expects a jump on the table, and believes in better shape in the following period.
– For me Partizan is a surprise, I didn’t expect them to be that high on the table. TSC and Čukarički have the matches in Europe, and I expect them to be a little bit tired, and lose some points. But we have to turn to ourselves. Our best player Uroš Nikolić is not in shape, but when he is in shape, it’s an entirely different story. We need to start winning some points, and stop the bad luck that we had, perhaps one more victory of 4:0. Malbašić is in excellent shape, we are waiting for Guram to recover from his injury, and Zukić is also in a bad shape. We have three important matches, if we win 7 points, we will be in the top 5, and why not all 9 points. We are going step bz step, it is important that the team works in peace, and the preparations in Zlatibor were welcomed. I expect Campbell and Vukanovć to bring quality. As for the position at the end of the season, well, second or third place, if I have to make an approximation. We can’t play this bad in the spring – Zbiljić pointed out.
Status of Đorđević, choice of captain, and goalkeeper
He explained the status of Stefan Đorđević, and confirmed that the coach chose the new captain and vice-captain.
– Stefan Đorđević took stripping off the captain’s armband hard, and this was done by the coach, and we from the Management supported his decision. He is now in the protocol for the match, you saw him on the bench in Subotica, so he is a player of Vojvodina and a licensed one. The coach received full autonomy in choosing the captain, and that will be Malbašić, while Rosić will be the vice-captain. Full support for them all – the president of Voša said.
He revealed that the summer preparations in Slovenia negatively influences the outcome of the situation at the start of the season.
– I don’t see the purpose of those preparations because we spent 150.000 euros on them, and 16 players left after those preparations. If I could change anything, I would send them to preparations anywhere outside the city – Zbiljić explained.
The transfer money from Sergej Milinković-Savić will most likely be paid at the start of the next year.
– No. I expect that money, 1 million and 100 thousand, but it won’t arrive before March or April. If it’s not now, it’s welcome whenever it comes. I think the exact number is 1.125.000 euros – he revealed.
Finally, the president spoke about the status of the goalkeeper Lazar Carević and his competition.
– We will see the attitude of Ranko Popović, I believe he has competition in Puškić, and Toroman, and that’s the coach’s decision. I wouldn’t be surprised if Toroman is the goalkeeper in the following period. But also, full support to Carević, he saved us plenty of times. It just wasn’t his day. It is for the coach to decide – Dragoljub Zbiljić concluded.