SPORTS

PAOK expects UEFA Cup return

PAOK soccer club, which was recently ousted from next season’s UEFA Cup after failing to meet the necessary financial standards set by UEFA, the competition’s organizer and European soccer’s governing body, was expected to win an appeal this week and regain its place, local reports claimed yesterday. The Greek soccer federation’s appeals committee, reports said, was expected to accept the Thessaloniki club’s appeal on Thursday when it convenes to examine the troubled club’s case. In its bid to regain PAOK its place in European club-level competition next year, PAOK’s administration has reportedly injected 6 million euros’ worth of funds into the local soccer federation’s approvals committee. It is now up to EPO, the Greek soccer federation, to deliver its verdict to UEFA, which, theoretically, complies with decisions reached by local soccer federations. However, it remains unclear whether UEFA would accept EPO’s ruling unconditionally. Until late yesterday, UEFA had not provided any further announcement about PAOK’s future in European competition. UEFA’s official website maintained until late in the evening that «an appeal committee decided to uphold the original EPO decision to deny the Thessaloniki-based club the right to compete in Europe due to unpaid debts.»  A group of PAOK supporters, spearheaded by academic and politician Costas Zouraris, a candidate for the leadership of the team’s amateur division in elections tomorrow, held a news conference yesterday to comment on the club’s decline and condemn current officials for the club’s poor state. The club’s administrative future appears unclear. In recent weeks, interested investors have held meetings with club officials about the prospect of taking over the cash-strapped team, but no deals appear to have been reached. PAOK ended sixth in the Greek league last season, scraping into the UEFA Cup. However, the recent decision to expel the club from competition has outraged fans of PAOK, Thessaloniki’s biggest club in terms of popularity and success.