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By ESPN Staff

Hungary's Ferencvaros weeks from liquidation

BUDAPEST, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Hungary's most successful soccer club is so deep in debt that unless a major investor appears within a few weeks it may be forced to shut down, Ferencvaros chairman Zsolt Damosy said on Monday.

The club's debts total 850 million forint ($4.17 million) and one of its former players has already initiated liquidation proceedings against the club, Damosy told the daily Magyar Hirlap.

'Every investor we've approached has turned us down... If we don't find an appropriate investor in three to four weeks, Ferencvaros could disappear from Hungarian football,' Damosy told the newspaper.

Ferencvaros was relegated to the second division at the start of the season due to its financial problems and there have been frequent rumours of buyers for the club, most recently Slovak businessman Ivan Kmotrik who owns Artmedia Bratislava.

However, none has come to fruition and Damosy told sports daily Nemzeti Sport that the club has not been able to pay player salaries.

'Our players have not received money for several months and neither have our youth coaches... and I won't make it a secret, the club has no money for (this liquidation) proceeding or to pay our obligation (to the league),' Damosy said.

'This club has never been so close to catastrophe. It's like we're sitting on a leaking bottle of gas that's about to burst into flames,' Damosy said.

Damosy added that to survive, the club would need around 500 million forints immediately.

Ferencvaros were founded in 1899 and have played in Hungary's top division since 1901, winning 28 titles and 20 domestic cups. In 1931-32 they won all their matches.

Most Hungarian clubs face similar financial hardship, although none are as acute as at Ferencvaros.

Hungarian football has sunk deep since the glory days of 1950s, when the country boasted arguably the greatest team in the world.

The national team has failed to qualify for any major championship since 1986 and last month suffered the ultimate humiliation of losing to Malta, which had not won a major match in more than two decades.