Sports clubs told they have to shape up or lose their licenses

A considerable number of local soccer and basketball clubs, large and small, risked being excluded from the transfer market, and, worse still, having their licenses revoked, if they did not meet stipulated financial requirements, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou warned yesterday. Clubs whose net worth stood at less than 10 percent of equity capital must inject half of the required sum needed to meet the required level by this Friday, New Year’s Eve, Papathanassiou said. If not, they will be excluded from next month’s transfer market dealings and be banned from their respective leagues next season. The deputy minister said that teams had until June, 2006 to fully meet their outstanding financial requirements or, ultimately, have their operating licenses revoked. Yesterday’s warning comes as the latest effort to financially stabilize professional Greek sports clubs and rid them of corrupt internal dealings. «The overall feeling is that, compared to May, when [the current government’s] efforts to tidy up began, many clubs have improved their positions and have the intention of meeting their requirements by the end of the year,» Papathanassiou said yesterday. He said the government would provide final details on action to be taken against clubs that had failed to step in line early in the new year. Financial documents of clubs published yesterday disclosed that many clubs had yet to take action to meet demands, while others had yet to disclose their financial standing. According to yesterday’s revelations, Peristeri and Olympiakos basketball clubs, which both compete in the country’s top league, risked being excluded from January’s transfer market and next season’s competition if they did not meet the aforementioned financial criteria. First-division soccer clubs Iraklis, AEK, Aris and OFI are among the teams warned for unsatisfactory net worth figures.