SPORTS

Fund-raising succeeds

Cash-strapped Aris soccer club, which, in recent weeks, has been threatened with expulsion from professional competition as punishment for its financial turmoil, seems to have found its way toward a speedy recovery. The club, which launched a desperate fund-raising effort last week in its home city of Thessaloniki, yesterday paid 180,000 euros of 220,000 euros in outstanding tax payments. Despite the remaining amount, tax authorities deemed the payment sufficient to give the club the green light, an important step toward ensuring the team’s survival. Greek clubs were given a series of state-imposed financial criteria to meet by July 17, or suffer relegation to amateur competition. Aris officials requested, and were given, a short extension by the newly assembled Professional Sports Committee, EEA, charged with assessing which teams are in good enough financial condition to remain professional. EEA is expected to announce its final decisions tomorrow. To get EEA’s approval, Aris still needs to settle a series of outstanding payments, including fees, dating back to last season, for certain players. The deadline’s extension granted to Aris expires today. According to reports, regular Aris fans and former club officials have, so far, contributed 260,000 euros to the Thessaloniki team’s fund-raising effort, which covered the entire amount for yesterday’s tax payment. The rest of the money is expected to service other debts. A former president, Lambros Grantas, contributed 50,000 euros. «We will get the [EEA] certification needed. I’ll give whatever money is needed, which is what I’ve already done. Aris fans must help with action, not words,» Grantas said. Just when it thought its troubles with EEA were over, another troubled club, AEK, received a warning yesterday from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, over outstanding fees to players. FIFA warned the Greek club that it could be ousted from the upcoming Champions League if player payments were not settled.