SPORTS

AEK boss reports club recovery

Under the threat of bankruptcy and relegation to amateur competition just a few seasons ago, AEK soccer club’s financial situation appears to have improved markedly, according to figures presented yesterday by the club’s boss and his financial director. Club boss Demis Nikolaidis, who led a team of investors in a takeover of the troubled historic club, one of the country’s biggest, told the news conference that his administration had «settled virtually all the debts we found over the past three years.» Nikolaidis, a former player at the Athens club who has undertaken initiatives for violence-free soccer, said AEK’s debt of 23 million euros, when his administration took over, was now almost repaid. Nikolaidis said a total of 19.5 million euros of debt payments had been made, while arrangements with the state had been agreed to cover the remaining amount. The club’s financial director, Pantelis Orfanidis, said AEK’s losses of 5.6 million euros last year were expected to drop to 200,000 euros in the current year. Moreover, club officials said revenues at AEK virtually doubled last season relative to the 2005-06 season. Nikolaidis said equity capital increases as well as a bond loan had contributed greatly to reducing AEK’s debt figure. Responding to a reporter’s question, Orfanidis, the financial chief, said investments through equity capital increases stood at 13 million euros. As last year’s runner-up in the Greek league, AEK will need to get past a home-and-away playoff next month for a place in the upcoming season’s Champions League group stage. Competition money, if AEK makes it to the groups, would further bolster its financial standing.