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Cypriot billionaire to take over Omonia

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A London-based Cypriot billionaire is set to take over Omonia Nicosia FC in a €28 mln deal, less than three years after New-York based investor Stavros Papastavrou stepped in to save the club from financial ruin.

According to local media reports, Yianis ‘John’ Christodoulou, a self-made real estate king in London, is close to reaching a deal with Papastavrou to take over the majority share package of the champions.

Meanwhile, Papastavrou is rumoured to be looking for a way to disengage himself from the club due to his involvement in the banking sector in the US.

Reports say that due to the rapid growth of his business activities in the US, Papastavrou is faced with legal obstacles in the States which forbid him from owning a sports club abroad.

Sources close to the two sides say the deal is almost done, pending due diligence of the financial and legal documents involved.

John Christodoulou, 56, made his estimated €2.4 bln fortune in real estate after leaving the island for the UK following the 1974 Turkish invasion.

According to the ‘Greek Rich List’, Christodoulou left school at 16 to train as a diamond setter, starting his own business in Hatton Garden, the jewellery hub in central London.

He made his first steps in the real estate sector when he bought his first property in 1994, a North London studio flat.

Since then, he has built up a portfolio of more than 2,000 housing and commercial properties in London, which are now under the name of his company, the Yianis Group.

The philanthropist heads the Yianis Christodoulou Foundation, is actively involved in local community projects in Cyprus and the UK and sponsoring sporting events. Earlier this week, he inaugurated a basketball pitch in a state school in Kaimakli.

 

Financial disaster to thriving club

Christodoulou is set to take over from Papastavrou, who had turned Omonia from financial disaster to a thriving club, having won the championship last year and finishing first the previous when the championship was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Papastavrou’s takeover of the club was the best example of how a Cypriot team in the red could be turned around to generate profits.

Omonia’s flagging fortunes were revived after being taken over by millionaire Stavros Papastavrou in 2018. He pledged to invest more than €30 mln.

In May last year, Nicosia’s Greens completed their most successful season after winning the league and participating in a European tournament group stage for the first time in its 73-year history.

Papastavrou made good on his word from day one, saving Omonia by directly injecting €1.5 mln, crucial to pass UEFA’s financial criteria, which the club could not have met otherwise.

He also absorbed €9.5 mln of the club’s €15 mln debt, promising the team would receive €5 mln every year for transfers and the payroll.

Omonia’s Europa group stage qualification had brought in another €8 mln, of which €5 mln is a bonus for participating in the Champions League playoffs after being knocked out by Greek opponents Olympiacos Piraeus.

This year, Omonia are in the newly founded Europa Conference League, where it has cashed in some €4 mln.