Demise of Cyprus’ most successful club

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APOEL FC, Cyprus’ most successful football club, is in financial difficulties after accumulating a debt of €19.7 mln with the future looking grim after not qualifying for European competition next season.

According to the latest Financial results of the APOEL Football LTD, the club was in the red in 2020, as the year’s fiscal report revealed a deficit of €5.7 mln up from €147,000 in 2019.

Boasting 28 Cypriot Championship titles and 21 cups and 7 group stage participation in UEFA’s top tournaments, the Champions League and the Europa League, the club has failed to record any significant achievement the past two seasons.

The club finished third in the table last season, earning a Europa League spot, but was knocked out at the final play-off stage by Czech side Slovan Liberec.

Off to a bad start in 2020-21, the club could not pull itself together, with Chairman Prodromos Petrides giving the command to sack two coaches during the season in an attempt to turn things around.

APOEL is currently playing in the relegation group of this season’s championship, although it is sitting comfortably in a safe zone.

However, the club that recently won seven league titles in a row is not used to being at the wrong end of the table.

Future looks grim

Hit by the coronavirus, as the rest of the teams, lockdown measures meant that most of the season was carried out without fans, APOEL had no income from tickets.

With next season finding APOEL out of European tournaments for the first time in 20 years, the club will have to suffice with ticket sales and TV contracts, making their comeback an even harder task to pull off.

Former club player, coach and once a member of the club’s executive board, Takis Antoniou, said the club would have to do with a budget of €4.5 mln next year, rather than the usual €12 mln in previous years.

The club had grown used to generating €20mln each season from European tournaments and close to €30 in 2011-12 when APOEL reached the last eight of the lucrative Champions League.

APOEL’s failure has been attributed by fans and opposition within the club to the chairman’s ‘bad management.

Opposition within the club has openly fired against Petrides, arguing the club’s leadership failed to bring quality players, while a frequent change of coaches did not allow for stability.

According to CFA data, the club has brought in, over the past two years, 37 players and six coaches.

A run of four games without a win in 2020 proved the end for Greek coach Marinos Ouzounidis in November, who Mick McCarthy replaced as the club’s 12th permanent coach since 2015.

He was sacked in January and replaced by former APOEL player Savvas Poursaitides.