Zagorakis takes helm at PAOK

The former captain of Greece’s national soccer team, Thodoris Zagorakis, was yesterday named chairman of PAOK and will spearhead efforts to rescue the financially troubled Thessaloniki club. The 35-year-old midfielder, who captained Greece to victory at the European Championships in 2004, will head a provisional five-member governing board. The board was approved yesterday by a court which gave the club six months to settle debts and unpaid taxes totaling an estimated 30 million euros. The first-division club is in negotiations with the Finance Ministry and is hoping to reduce its debt by about half. «PAOK has reached a critical point. New management alone will not solve the problems, the government must help too,» Zagorakis told The Associated Press. «What we need is a lot of hard work, and not a lot of talk… Returning PAOK to financial health is the main goal of the new management.» Before assuming his post at PAOK, Zagorakis set July 19 as his deadline for government debt revisions at PAOK. The player said that if the condition was not met, he would not remain. Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, the country’s sports head, has reportedly submitted a bid to the Finance and Development ministries for debt-relief measures at PAOK. Besides its financial woes, the Thessaloniki club, one of the country’s biggest and most historic, also needs to boost its performance. Last season, PAOK ended sixth in the Super League and failed to qualify for a UEFA Cup berth for the first time in quite a while. Zagorakis had spent the past couple of seasons playing with PAOK. He announced his club-level retirement just days ago, after ending his career with the national team earlier this year. The club’s previous chief, Nikos Vezyrtzis, resigned from his post earlier this month after serving for a year and a half. The new administration has urged fans to purchase season tickets as a show of support for the club, which hopes to sell as many as 12,000 season tickets, up from 8,000 last season. (AP/Kathimerini)

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