Star striker takes over his old club

A former AEK Athens soccer star now playing for a Spanish club said yesterday he had secured a majority stake in his cash-strapped former team on behalf of a group of businessmen. The announcement came six days after an initial bid led by Demis Nikolaidis to buy the historic club collapsed in acrimony, with AEK players accusing their former teammate of inciting fans to lynch them during a training session. The players were targeted for turning down demands by Nikolaidis that they should accept large pay cuts. The Atletico de Madrid striker – now expected to become AEK chairman – said he had secured a 58 percent stake on behalf of a team of businessmen which included shipowners Gikas Goumas, Petros Pappas and Nikos Notias. He said AEK’s board had agreed to the sale «because we are AEK supporters.» Asked what he would do about the players’ pay deals, Nikolaidis said that «is a matter for the current board,» adding, however, that he felt he would be able to reach an understanding with 95 percent of the footballers. Nikolaidis is married to Greek pop singer Despina Vandi.

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