SPORTS

AEK opens club gates to new shareholders

AEK soccer club is increasing its share capital, practically putting a majority stake up for grabs, and keeping Giorgos Kintis as president after last night’s extraordinary board meeting. The share capital increase by 15 million euros will have to be completed by January 23 and paves the way for the entry of a man whom many AEK fans and some shareholders look upon as the club’s potential savior, Dimitris Melissanidis. He is a former president of the club and his business in shipping and fuel retailing is blossoming. Kintis had expressed his intention to resign last week as he saw that the club’s financial situation was untenable and the shareholders appeared reluctant to act, but yesterday’s meeting was a clear victory for the successor to Demis Nikolaidis in the presidency. Kintis had always insisted on opening the club’s doors to new investors, while other board members, including main shareholder Nikos Notias and chief executive officer Nikos Thanopoulos, had opted for borrowing some money to make it through the season. Now that the president has had his way, anyone interested can submit a proposal to buy a stake, small or big, until Friday. However, there is also an alternative plan: «In the event no new investors emerge, we will present a new, fully transparent plan. Shareholders will cover our obligations. Of course if there are no new investors then we will be extremely reserved in this transfer window,» said Kintis. AEK’s total debts are estimated to be at least 30 million euros, of which about 8-10 million were added during the current season. «The shareholders love AEK but they have put in too much money, over 30 million euros and have now grown tired. We will open up the share capital and anyone wishing to do so may come and take over the majority stake. We do not want AEK to be held hostage,» said vice president Nikos Koulis.