The Vardar football club called on its supporters to buy season tickets – priced at just 1,000 denars – as a way to show their support after Macedonia’s most historic club returned to the First League.

It’s time that the people, who are the true owners of the club, speak their mind. We will not give up on Vardar, the team said in a statement.

Vardar’s owner, Russian businessman Sergey Samsonenko, who invested heavily in handball as well as football, and secured two European Championship titles, was kicked out of Macedonia by the now ruling SDSM party. This devastated the team and it was eventually relegated to the Second League. The issue has an ethnic backdrop, as Vardar is supported by ethnic Macedonians, while the dominant teams after its relegation are supported by ethnic Albanians.