Argentina's Racing emerge from bankruptcy

BUENOS AIRES - Racing Club, one of the most popular and fanatically supported clubs in Argentina, has emerged from bankruptcy after nearly 10 years. The club said on its website that judge Enrique Gorostegui had ruled on Thursday that Racing was in a condition for bankruptcy to be lifted. The announcement came two days before the members of the club, Argentina's fifth most successful in terms of domestic titles, elect their first new president for 10 years. Racing, based in the district of Avellaneda in the sprawling southern suburbs of Buenos Aires, have won the Argentine championship seven times but only once since 1966. Recently, they have languished in the middle of the table and have employed 16 different coaches in the last 10 years, three of them twice. At the end of last season, Racing suffered the indignity of having to playoff against second division Belgrano over two legs to keep their place in the top flight. They scraped through 2-1 on aggregate but more troubles followed in the preparations for the new season. The team were forced to call off plans for a pre-season training camp in the resort of Mar del Plata due to financial problems and players then went on strike for four days over unpaid wages. Racing were declared bankrupt by Daniel Lalin, the president at the time and one of five candidates in Sunday's elections, in 1999 after years of being burdened by huge debts and repeatedly threatened with extinction. A private management company called Blanquiceleste S.A. (Blue and White) was brought in to run the club and committed themselves to paying off the club's $65-million debt in 10 years. Racing won the Apertura championship in the 2001/02 season, ending a run of 35 years without a domestic title, but it was only a brief interlude. The team then dropped back into midtable and fans became increasingly agitated at Blanquiceleste's policy of selling the club's best 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.