Skenderbeu claim eighth Superliga title as club’s future depends on CAS decision

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2018 17:34

Skenderbeu claim eighth Superliga title as club’s future depends on CAS decision

TIRANA, May 10 – Albania’s Skenderbeu mathematically secured their eighth Superliga title, but the Albanian club’s participation in European Competition is in question following a UEFA punishment over match-fixing and all hopes are on the final say by Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Skenderbeu came from behind to beat relegated Lushnja 4-2 in an away victory that secured the Korça-based southeast Albania club their eighth national title, seven of which during the past eight year and their debut title dating back to the early 1930s soon after the Albanian championship was founded.

Gambian striker Ali Sowe was Skenderbeu’s hero with a hat trick that took him to 19 goals for this season, trailing Albanian Kukes striker Sindri Guri by one goal with three other games to go.

Last year’s debut Superliga winners Kukes lost 3-2 away to Teuta but are set to finish second as they hold a comfortable 9-point lead over third-placed Luftetari and trail Kukes by 11 points for the three remaining games.

Skenderbeu seem to be heading for a double this year as they play fifth-placed Laçi in the Albanian Cup final on May 27.

With Skenderbeu’s European competition appearance uncertain due to the UEFA appeals body having upheld a 10-year ban on Skenderbeu from international competition, second-placed Kukes could replace Skenderbeu if the Court of Arbitration for Sport does not overturn the decision.

Skenderbeu won their first legal battle at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last April after CAS turned down a decision by Albania’s Football Association that stripped Skenderbeu of their 2015-2016 Superliga title over lack of legal basis in imposing sanctions at a national level following UEFA punishment over match fixing.

Last March, Skenderbeu were handed a 10-year ban from European competition by UEFA over match fixing and fined €1 million in the worst ever punishment for a European club unless the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides otherwise in the expected appeal that Albania’s best club of the past decade is expected to file.

UEFA’s disciplinary body has handed the ban over 50 matched Skenderbeu is suspected to have fixed in the Champions League and Europa League campaigns as well as in the Albanian Superliga and in friendlies since 2011.

Skenderbeu, who deny match-fixing allegations, remain hopeful they will be allowed to participate in this year’s Champions League pre-qualification campaign as CAS examines their appeal.

The Korça-based team who have dominated Albanian football for the past decade are the only Albanian club to have made it to the UEFA Europa League group stage, with two appearances in the past three years.

A 10-year ban and a €1 million fine could give a severe blow to Skenderbeu’s future.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2018 17:34