Under what are being described as dubious conditions by news reports, AEK soccer club strongman Makis Psomiadis, barred from holding an official post due to previous legal convictions, managed to overcome an end-of-year power challenge from board members at the cash-strapped team’s general meeting on Tuesday. In the days leading up to the meeting, insiders said that three shareholder firms possessing enough power – jointly – to put the majority shareholder up against the wall would reject the club’s financial statement for 2002. Its deficit is estimated at 61.2 million euros. But Psomiadis, who has a 20 percent stake, reportedly hatched a sly and desperate last-minute plot to hold on to AEK’s helm. Reports said that a legal representative of UK firm ENIC, which holds a 33.89 percent stake in the club, arrived on time for Tuesday’s meeting, intending to reject the financial statement. But he went missing soon after his arrival. The absence was enough to sway the result in favor of Psomiadis during a swift nine-minute session. ENIC’s representative was allegedly misdirected into a room and intimidated by about a dozen bulky bodyguards. Meanwhile, upstairs, two shareholder firms, Psomiadis’s Ippoventure together with Soe International, which hold a combined 38 percent stake in AEK – enough for a Psomiadis victory – cast votes in favor of the financial statement to offer the strongman reprieve. The amateur AEK Sports Club, holder of a 10 percent stake, rejected the financial statement, while the club’s remaining shareholder, NetMed, with an 18.11 percent stake, was unable to vote because it had not met prevoting public company procedures. Psomiadis, who faces player protests and threatened walkouts over unpaid salaries, declared to the club’s players afterward: «I’m strong and don’t have financial problems. Don’t listen to what the do-gooders are saying, and fear nothing.» ENIC has not commented so far.