SPORTS

Deal agreed on AEK shares

After several previous failed attempts to seal a much-heralded agreement, AEK soccer club shareholders ENIC and Ippoventure both confirmed yesterday that the latter would sell its 38 percent stake in the team to the former in London today. Should the deal go ahead, ENIC, a British firm, would secure a majority 72 percent stake in the Greek team. But, in the long term, ENIC is expected to attempt to put the debt-ridden club’s finances in some order before eventually selling out. Ippoventure, controlled by a former AEK president, Makis Psomiadis, said that it had agreed to settle for a deal worth just over 350,000 euros, or 250,000 pounds, with the British firm, plus a 5 percent commission from any future sale of the club by the British firm. The latest price tag is slightly over the 317,000-euro (225,000-pound) fee quoted in the previous round of this deal’s long-running negotiations. Ippoventure, reports said, stalled the deal after another buyer apparently also expressed interest in the firm’s 38 percent stake. ENIC is one of AEK’s three main shareholders. Jumping the gun before ENIC’s confirmation of a prospective deal yesterday, Psomiadis reportedly leaked the news to team player Grigoris Georgatos, who was asked to relay it to teammates. «Tell the rest of the boys that I’m a businessman and that I really wanted to shake them down,» Psomiadis apparently told Georgatos over the phone. «Tell them not to worry. Everything will be all right.» Petros Stathis, an ENIC representative likely to be appointed to a high-ranking administrative position should ENIC acquire majority control of the club, said yesterday that the firm’s intention was to renew any expiring contracts of players that coach Dusan Bajevic would like to retain on the team’s roster. The club’s financial situation would need to be drastically improved if ENIC, as majority shareholder, is to have a chance of selling the Greek club at a future date. AEK owes substantial sums to players, the Greek State, and various other third parties. ENIC plans to inject a million euros into the club by the end of this month for short-term liabilities, mostly outstanding player salaries. A further 1 million euros will follow soon after, the firm has said. If, by that stage, no prospective buyers have expressed any interest in acquiring AEK, the British firm said it would proceed to sell players. In other news related to the club, close aides of coach Bajevic, responding to rumors of a transfer to either Olympiakos or Panathinaikos, said he would not sever ties with the club. «He wouldn’t leave,» one aide said, «even if the club were relegated to the fourth division.»