Two Cyprus football clubs, Apollon and APOEL, will play in the next round of the UEFA Europa League qualifying groups this autumn after the first was drawn at a ceremony Friday at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, while APOEL got a call-back to replace excluded Fenerbahce of Turkey.
APOEL FC was left stunned on Thursday night following a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Belgian side SV Zulte Waregem in the Europa League playoffs, but was celebrating Friday after being reinstated in UEFA’s special draw of defeated teams to replace the Turkish team.
The draw for the “lucky loser” took place at the Méridien Beach Plaza hotel in Monaco prior to the group stage draw and was proceeded by UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino inviting a journalist from a country without representation in the competition to make the draw. Emmet Malone from The Irish Times took to the stage and drew APOEL out of the bowl.
Fenerbahce received a two-year ban from all European competitions by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday.
Nicosia side APOEL will feature in Group F and will face FC Girondins de Bordeaux, Eintracht Frankfurt and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC coming up in Group F.
Apollon FC from the southern coastal city of Limassol was selected in Group J and will play against FC Lazio of Italy, Trabzonspor of Turkey and Poland’s Legia.
The matches will start on September 19 and will be completed by December 12.
APOEL and Apollon will clash for the Cyprus First Division in Limassol on November 3.
Friday’s call-back is also a financial windfall for the Nicosia side with a club budget deficit of nearly 4 mln euros, arising from 5 mln in earnings and 9 mln expenses, despite cutbacks throughout the past and present season.
The qualification to the group stage will earn each club about 2.3 mln euros – 1.3 mln from the qualifier, 250,000 from TV rights and the marketing pool and 800,000 from ticket sales and other merchandising. A win earns 200,000 euros and a draw 100,000.
Cyprus League title winner APOEL, which made it as far as the Champions League quarter finals in 2012 before being knocked out by giants Real Madrid, has 12 appearances at Champions League level, 10 at Cup Winners and 15 at Europa League. They have won the local League title 22 times and the Cyprus Cup 19 times.
Apollon, that made it to the group stage after a 2-1 aggregate win over Nice in the play-offs, has 2 Champions League appearances, 6 at Cup Winners Cup level and 8 at Europa League.
Get all the latest news and videos in your inbox. Register FREE