The Croatian Football League promotions and relegations are almost set, but if history tells us anything, they’re never set in stone.
A season hasn’t gone by when a team has reached promotion, but failed to secure a license to the league it is promoted to.
Though the top four have been solidified in the Prva Liga, the bottom two are all but decided.
RNK Split’s perils have gone from bad to worse. The once-successful club – gaining promotion in consecutive years then making an appearance in Europa League play – is set for certain relegation, even if it wins outright on the weekend.
Due to dire financial straits, RNK Split failed to secure a license not only to participate in the Prva Liga (like it would have needed it anyway), but it also failed to secure a Druga Liga license. The fate of the club is currently uncertain, but sources report they will be automatically relegated to Third League West.
But Split’s loss is another club’s gain. Saved from already certain relegation from the Druga Liga is Hrvatski Dragovoljac. Dragovoljac was set to be the third team relegated to the third division, but RNK Split will be taking their spot, leaving them to relish in safety by technicality.
Fellow Druga Liga clubs that will be sent down included NK Zagreb and NK Imotski. Medimurje Cakovec was expected to gain promotion to second division after winning third league East, but failed to secure a license. In their place is expected to be runners up, NK Varazdin. From 3.HNL West, NK Vinograder cliched the title of champion, but also failed to secure a second-division license. That will leave NK Trnje and NK Kustosija Zagreb left to fight it out in the last week of the season to see who will take the promotion spot after finishing in second place Both clubs have secured a 2.HNL license. Joining them in promotion will be Hajduk Split II from the south.
With RNK Split going down, that leaves HNK Cibalia to face a potential opponent in the relegation playoffs. The Druga Liga has been clinched by NK Rudes, but second place will have to wait to be determined on the final day of the season. In contention is HNK Gorica and NK Solin. The promotion/relegation playoff will be scheduled once a team is confirmed.
Let us give a moment of silence to fallen RNK Split. An unpopular team among many due to what they represent, the club has a relatively unknown but storied history. They were found it 1912, only months after Hajduk Split was formed, as a protest “against all evil”. The club was named “Anarch” and wore all black in protest of living and working conditions of the club’s members. They change their name to its current form in 1933 and formed a close bond with its brother, Hajduk Split during a time when they both refused to compete in the Italian league during WW2. Hajduk even donated its old banks of flood lights to Split’s grounds in the 1970s when Poljud was built.
Split spend the better part of four decades in the obscurity of the lower leagues of Yugoslavia and then Croatia before successfully gaining three consecutive promotions to join the Croatian Prva Liga, a place where they have stayed for seven years.
This will be inevitably the final Prva Liga season for Split for some time now. They will most likely fade back into the obscurity from whence they came.