Nikolaidis strikes deal at AEK

Greece and Atletico de Madrid striker Demis Nikolaidis said he has successfully completed a bid to buy his troubled former club, AEK, despite declaring the deal dead a week ago. «We have reached an agreement… it’s a very good contract,» the 30-year-old striker said late Tuesday. The financial terms of the deal to buy the first-division club were not announced but Nikolaidis said he and other investors had gained 58 percent of the club’s shares. Nikolaidis moved to the Madrid club this season after eight years at AEK. He gathered a group of prospective investors and former club officials to buy the troubled club, which had debts worth a reported 30 million euros. He named three Greek shipowners as members of his team of financial backers. Last week, Nikolaidis announced the deal had collapsed after several AEK players rejected a plea to write off a portion of money owed them. It was not immediately clear if the players had changed their position. Yesterday, UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, told the Greek soccer federation (EPO) that it should keep a close watch on financially troubled AEK. EPO said in a statement that UEFA had asked to be informed when the 900,000-euro check given by AEK to the federation to clear up some of the team’s debts is cleared on June 15 as dated on the check. «We salute this development [by AEK]. At the same time, however, we make it clear that this move will have substance when the money is deposited to pay off AEK’s debts,» the letter by UEFA’s disciplinary committee to EPO said. UEFA asked to be informed by EPO immediately when the money is cashed. AEK has been told by UEFA to pay off debts, including money owed to present and past players, totaling 11 million euros. A deadline of June 30 had been given or else AEK will not be allowed to play in next year’s UEFA Cup competition. The team qualified by finishing fourth in the Greek league, which ended last weekend. Meanwhile, former AEK coach Dusan Bajevic Bajevic, winner of seven league titles in Greece, yesterday held negotiations with Red Star Belgrade, this season’s winner of the league and cup titles in Serbia-Montenegro. Bajevic, who described the talks as «successful» with some pending issues to be settled, left AEK earlier this year after being hounded by a group of militant AEK fans. Slavoljub Muslin abandoned Red Star Belgrade’s coaching post earlier this week after expressing dissatisfaction with the team’s plans to sell some of its best players. (AP, AFP).

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