Racing president promises return to greatness

BUENOS AIRES - Racing Club's new president Rodolfo Molina vowed on Monday to return the Argentine club to greatness after years of financial turmoil and administrative problems. Molina became the popular but troubled club's first president since 1999 when he won a five-man race and was voted in by the club's 5,000-odd members in an election on Sunday. "We want to make Racing Club a great institution again," he said in an interview with TyC Sports television. "We are convinced that Racing is a sleeping giant which needs to be awoken. "We want to be fighting for the top places in the next championships and taking part in international tournaments." Racing, based in Avellaneda in the sprawling southern suburbs of Buenos Aires, are Argentina's fifth most successful club in terms of domestic titles but only one of their seven national titles has come since 1966. The last few years have been fraught with difficulties with the club employing 16 coaches -- three of them twice -- since 1998. The situation reached a low point this year when Racing were forced to play off against second division Belgrano to keep their place in the top flight. Racing Club are 15th in the relegation standings, which are decided over three season, and are still dangerously close to the drop zone. The club was declared bankrupt by Daniel Lalin, the president at the time and one of the candidates in Sunday's elections, in 1999 after years of being burdened by huge debts and repeatedly threatened with extinction. Private management company Blanquiceleste S.A. (Sky Blue and White) was brought in to run the club and committed itself to paying off the club's $65-million debt in 10 years. But as the team repeatedly struggled, fans became agitated at Blanquiceleste's policy of selling the top players. A civil judge ordered intervention in Blanquiceleste S.A. earlier this year and the club was placed in the hands of state-appointed receivers. On Thursday, a judge ruled that the bankruptcy could be lifted.