Cyprus football among Europe’s moneymakers

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Despite being battered by two years of the pandemic, Cypriot football has emerged fairly unscathed from the coronavirus crisis and back to making serious cash, according to the Cyprus Football Association.

CFA boss George Koumas told a conference on the finances and future of Cypriot clubs that the topflight’s turnover is around €60 mln.

He noted that 70% goes to the salaries of people directly involved in the sport, from players and coaches to club staff.

Koumas told the audience that Cyprus football’s profitability is amongst the highest in Europe.

“Based on the proportion of our population, we are very high in the European ranking in terms of revenue from football, while the percentages of the people who choose to watch football matches at stadiums are very encouraging.”

He was happy the domestic league offered one of the continent’s most exciting products to watch last season.

“This year’s conference takes place in the aftermath of an exciting football season as the fight for the championship went to the penultimate game, while the five tickets for the three European tournaments were up for grabs until the last minute.”

Koumas also mentioned the exciting Cup Final between eventual winners Omonia Nicosia and relegated Ethnikos Achnas, which was decided by a penalty shootout.

Next season has five Cypriot teams in European tournaments, two in the UEFA Champions League, one in the Europa League and two in the Europa Conference League.

Champions Apollon Limassol and runner-up AEK Larnaca will get a shot at the lucrative CL group stages, with Apollon starting from the third preliminary round and AEK in the second.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, a financial consultant advising clubs on their finances said: “Cyprus football remains attractive, with income equalling 4% of the island’s GDP, as the financial activity surrounding the game is close to €1 bln”.

The source believes local football could generate more than €60 mln next year with five teams competing in Europe in the post-COVID era.

“If we exclude the past two years which saw fans kept out of stadia due to the coronavirus outbreak, then Cyprus first division games had on average over 7,000 fans.

“Compared to the population of the island, which is impressive”.

Noting that European games draw many more fans, the financial advisor said the five teams could yield over €20 mln from their exploits.

Financial losses

First Division clubs lost a combined €15.5 mln in 2021 as big spenders failed to yield profits still being hammered by COVID, but also their poor performance did not help put out the financial fire.

Half of the 12 topflight teams playing in this season’s First Division closed their books in the red, but €14.5 mln losses were absorbed by three clubs, Champions, Apollon Limassol, and Cup Winners Omonia and APOEL Nicosia, who finished the season third.

Cyprus Football Association’s latest report on club finances revealed that APOEL Nicosia lost €9.3 mln. This is the highest loss made by a Cypriot team in a single season.

APOEL is followed by arch-rivals and Cup Winners Omonia with losses of €3.24 mln.

This year’s champions, Apollon Limassol, reported losses of €1.94 mln.

“Last year was not a good season for these clubs, as COVID restrictions in place for most of the season, combined with their poor performance in last year’s European tournaments, pushed them into the red,” said the financial advisor.

“This year, Cyprus’ five top teams have the chance to make up for losses.”

Europe

As the financial advisor noted, two teams, Champions Apollon Limassol and Cup winners Omonia Nicosia, will be cashing in at least €5 mln each from their European endeavours.

Apollon will launch their European campaign from the third preliminary round of the Champions League and Omonia from the Play-off round of the Europa League.

In the worst-case scenario, the two teams will find themselves in the group stage of the Conference League, earning them a minimum of €2.94 mln.

A team winning a group stage fixture in the UEFA Europa Conference League gets €500,000, while a draw means contesting teams earn €166,000 each.

Qualifying for the UEFA Europa League group stage will see each team earning €3.63 mln.

Teams in the group stage get €630,000 per match victory and €210,000 per match drawn.

Should Apollon make it to the Champions League Playoffs, one step before the CL group stage, the Limassol team will bank an additional €5 mln.

In the best-case scenario, in which Apollon makes it to the CL group stage, they will receive a minimum of €15.64 mln.

AEK Larnaca will be starting their journey from the second preliminary round of the CL, meaning they have three chances to reach at least the group stage of a European tournament.

APOEL and Aris Limassol start their campaign in the second preliminary round of the Europa Conference League.

To reach the Group stage of the tournament, they must knock out three teams.

APOEL face Botev Plovdiv, who finished third in the Bulgarian league, while Aris play Azerbaijan’s Neftchi Baku.

“AEK and Aris have been in the black this year, with Aris only joining the big spenders this season, after being taken over by an investor.

“If all teams representing the island are careful with where they spend the money from European games, then Cyprus football will see better days,” said the expert.