SPORTS

On road to recovery, Aris gains sponsorship

Aris soccer club, one of Thessaloniki’s biggest and most historic teams, seems to have distanced itself from deep financial turmoil which, until early this week, had threatened to oust the club from professional competition. After scrambling to meet state-imposed criteria introduced to keep only financially sound clubs professional, Aris yesterday announced that it had signed a sponsorship deal which, the club said, would further stabilize its condition. The team’s administration noted that the deal, with the firm Modabagno, would now allow Aris to pursue signing new players for the new season. Details regarding the agreement were not released. A little over a week ago, Aris launched a desperate, yet eventually successful, fund-raising effort in its home city to raise long-overdue payments, including player fees and taxation, to satisfy demands set by the newly assembled Professional Sports Committee, EEA. The committee was charged with assessing which teams were in a good enough financial condition to remain professional. All professional clubs, meaning teams competing in the first, second, and third divisions, faced a July 17 deadline to shape up or ship out to amateur competition. Aris requested, and was given, a short extension until earlier this week. The team’s fund-raising campaign drew money from an entire social strata of individuals linked with the Thessaloniki club, ranging from affluent ex-bosses and former officials to retired players and supporters. The long financial saga’s turning point came earlier this week, when Aris paid 180,000 out of 220,000 euros in outstanding tax payments. The entire amount came from the fund-raising effort. It came as a drastic measure after a Saudi Arabian investor resigned a week after taking over the club. The Aris squad was forced to return from pre-season training in Austria. In a statement yesterday, the club’s administration expressed its gratitude to fans and old club officials for their overwhelming response.