After 2.5 years of campaigning, 15,000 hours of voluntary work, over 500 pages of written materials, 6,000 people on the streets in support, and over 50 boycotted home matches, supporters have spoken and NK Čelik Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) will become a members-run football club in the coming months.
Behind this historic change is a citizens’ initiative by the name of Za Čelik, with the support of Robijaši 1988 Zenica, which has been calling for greater transparency at the football club for a number of years. Their efforts have been backed by the citizens of Zenica, who have supported the movement in their thousands when called upon.
On Thursday, January 5th, the club’s General Assembly voted in favour of introducing new statues that will see the football club implement the ‘one member – one vote’ model as used by a growing number of football clubs and sporting organisations across Europe and further afield.
In becoming a members-run club, supporters want NK Čelik Zenica to be more democratic, and more representative of the city and local community that the football club calls home.
The Assembly appointed an interim club president for a six-month transition period. Za Čelik has been offered a seat on the interim board as well as the position of Secretary General as preparations for the transition get underway. Three members of Za Čelik were also added to the Technical Committee of the Assembly, which will organise the first AGM as a members-run club in the summer while a new membership scheme will be up and running shortly.
“We are very happy that our club NK Čelik Zenica has been given a new breath of life with this reform as it was on the brink of extinction – now we ‘only’ have to worry about the relegation battle and financial problems,” Za Čelik president Tarik Ajanović said this week.
“We are aware that it is going to be a very slow and difficult process and that its implementation is going to have its ups and downs but we are confident we can gather all the necessary strength from within our community and start this overdue work with our club.
“We are going to have to break many barriers and prejudices in our community, country and the nearby region as well – but it is going to be a challenge that we are looking forward to.
“The whole initiative would like to thank everyone for all the messages of support from the SD Europe network and around the world that we received in recent days as well as in the past, and we invite them all to contact us further with any advice, contacts or information that might benefit our club. Now the hard work begins!”
NK Čelik Zenica will become the first professional football club in the top division of any league in ex-Yugoslavia to be a fully members-run entity when the transition is complete.
SD Europe and its whole membership congratulate Za Čelik for their work over the past number of years and are delighted to see such an initiative from one of our members have such a successful impact.