Otelul confirmed as Romanian champions

BERNE - Otelul Galati were confirmed as this season's Romanian champions on Wednesday when CAS, sport's highest tribunal, upheld a decision to award them a 3-0 walkover win over Pandurii Targu-Jiu in February.

CAS said on its website that it had thrown out an appeal by Pandurii against the Romania league's decision that they forfeit the game, adding that it was "inadmissible."

"As a consequence, the result of the match between CS Pandurii and FC Otelul Galati is unchanged and remains 0-3," added the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The walkover was originally awarded because of unpaid debts and Pandurii's non-compliance with previous decisions of the Romanian Professional Football League.

The decision had been widely expected in Romania where Otelul are already recognised as champions after beating Timisoara 2-1 on Sunday to go four points clear at the top with one match to play.

It is the first time Galati have won the title and they will qualify directly for next year's Champions League group stage.

The standard of Romanian football has slipped from the days when Steaua Bucharest became the first club from eastern Europe to win the European Cup in 1986. Otelul are the third team to break their title duck after CFR Cluj and Unirea Urziceni.

Galati coach, Romania's most capped player Dorinel Munteanu, has pulled together an effective outfit from little-known youth graduates who have done well through hard work and team spirit after a mid-table finish last year.

It is the fourth time in a row the title has gone to a team from outside Bucharest.