SPORTS

AEK boss bolsters his standing

AEK soccer club boss Demis Nikolaidis appeared to bolster his overall administrative standing by emerging victorious from an election for control of the team’s amateur division late Monday night. The amateur division, which holds a minority stake in AEK soccer club, controls the team’s amateur clubs in sports such as volleyball, track and field, and cycling. Subsequently, and more importantly from an administrative perspective, it has a say in the club’s plans for a new stadium, expected to be equipped for all these sporting disciplines. Nikolaidis received 40.88 percent of the vote, or six of the amateur division’s 15 board seats, two short of a majority, meaning that he will need to form a coalition with peripheral candidates for the amateur division’s presidential post. Last night, it was still unclear how collaborations between candidates would develop. Nikolaidis’s archrival in this election, Dimitris Melissanidis, a former president of AEK soccer club, who, in recent days, has outlined ambitious plans for his version and location of the club’s future stadium, captured five seats, or 30.82 percent. Of the amateur division’s 650 members, 483 cast votes. Nikolaidis, a former star player at AEK and hardcore fan with a club tattoo to prove it, took over as head of a consortium last summer when the club was mired in deep administrative and financial turmoil. Not long after his takeover, AEK escaped liquidation through Article 44, which legally allowed the club to write off a large part of its estimated 100-billion-euro debt. Besides avoiding financial collapse and consequent relegation to amateur competition, the historic club fared unexpectedly well in last season’s Greek league, finishing third, narrowly behind title winner Olympiakos and runner-up Panathinaikos. AEK went into the season minus five top players, including Greece captain Theodoros Zagorakis, as a result of the financial chaos. So far, Nikolaidis has been widely hailed for taking constructive initiatives at AEK. His approach has included efforts to cleanse the game of fan violence and corruption in order to sell it to a wider public, including families.